Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
Read Full Bio >>

Eric Krapf | August 27, 2008 |


Cisco Acquisition Aims at Microsoft? (Updated)

Cisco Acquisition Aims at Microsoft? (Updated) This acquisition by Cisco, of a company called PostPath, looks an awful lot like Cisco is gearing up to go head to head with Microsoft's Unified Communications strategy.

This acquisition by Cisco, of a company called PostPath, looks an awful lot like Cisco is gearing up to go head to head with Microsoft's Unified Communications strategy.

This acquisition by Cisco, of a company called PostPath, looks an awful lot like Cisco is gearing up to go head to head with Microsoft's Unified Communications strategy.Here's how the company announcement describes the PostPath technology:

PostPath offers a Linux-based e-mail, calendaring and collaboration solution. It is interoperable with many other e-mail solutions and provides a browser-independent AJAX Web client. In addition, PostPath's software is compatible with a number of mobile clients.

PostPath bills itself as a "replacement or supplement to Outlook...the only drop-in Exchange patches, no plug-ins."

The company wasn't gunning for Exchange:

PostPath realizes that better doesn't necessarily mean incompatible. In fact, PostPath recognizes that Microsoft Exchange™ has become the defacto standard for email in businesses large and small. To create a better email server, one that businesses can actually use, PostPath set out to build one that is interoperable with Exchange™ at the network protocol level.

To achieve this, PostPath set out to break open the compatibility lock that Exchange™ has had over email infrastructure. The result is the only non-Microsoft email server that offers drop-in/native interoperability with Outlook™, Exchange™ and with the rest of the existing email ecosystem - including Active Directory™, ActiveSync™, and applications like BlackBerry™ Enterprise Server (BES). This means that NO plug-ins or cumbersome middleware are ever required.

So it sounds like Cisco's aiming squarely at Microsoft UC. Not at the Exchange server, but at the endpoint, with PostPath's web client, and its compatibility with mobile endpoint enablers like the Blackberry Enterprise server. This reflects the reality of today's mobile email world and doesn't seek to overturn it.

And I hate to say I told you so, but some months back I asked the question, "Should Cisco Compete with IBM for Second-Place in the Desktop Market?" I based that proposition on my reading of a Wainhouse Research survey that indicated Cisco was just about the only IP-PBX vendor that any significant number of enterprise users would consider for their UC client. I was thinking of Cisco's own desktop client tied to the Unified Communications Manager IP-PBX, but with PostPath, Cisco is obviously looking to broaden its play.

Update: I totally agree with Om Malik: "This battle is more fun to watch than anything else out there."

Om also pays attention that I initially failed to pay to the deal's $215 million price tag. Compare that with some of the other acquisition prices in the communications business:

  • NEC-Sphere: $42 million
  • Aastra-Ericsson PBX: $103 million
  • Mitel-Inter-Tel: $723 million
  • Gores Group-Siemens Enterprise (SEN): $550 million between the 2 JV owners (Gores and Siemens AG)

    That means that PostPath was worth almost exactly as much to Cisco as SEN was to Gores Group, and twice as much as Ericsson's PBX business was worth to Aastra. That would be the Siemens and Ericsson that still hold market-leading positions with thousands of customers around the world in a big-ticket equipment market. Whether that says more about Siemens and Ericsson than it does about PostPath and Cisco, I don't know. Is the PBX business really so yesterday? Or is the Web 2.0/SaaS bubble really that inflated?


    April 19, 2017

    Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

    April 5, 2017

    Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

    March 22, 2017

    As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

    April 20, 2017
    Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
    March 23, 2017
    Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
    March 15, 2017
    Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
    March 9, 2017
    Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
    March 3, 2017
    From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
    February 24, 2017
    UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
    February 17, 2017
    From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
    February 7, 2017
    UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
    February 1, 2017
    Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
    January 26, 2017
    Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
    January 23, 2017
    Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.