Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
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Sheila McGee-Smith | June 27, 2013 |


CiscoLive 2013: Tomorrow Starts Here

CiscoLive 2013: Tomorrow Starts Here The company's cloud collaboration business seems to be headed toward a reset; CEO John Chambers says, "We have to get our collaboration act together."

The company's cloud collaboration business seems to be headed toward a reset; CEO John Chambers says, "We have to get our collaboration act together."

The theme of this week's CiscoLive, noted in the title of this post, might aptly be applied to the company's cloud collaboration strategy as well. That is not to say that Cisco is just beginning the cloud journey with respect to its unified communications and collaboration solutions--the company's Hosted Unified Communications Solution (HUCS) has been in the market for over six years.

On the face of it, there are signs of success. In a Cloud Collaboration roundtable session with four senior collaboration leaders and about 10 analysts, Bill Barnes (Director of Product Management for UC and Collaboration in the Cloud) quantified the achievements to date.

* 47 direct partners signed, ~30 delivering service,
* 70+ resellers (e.g., offering Cisco Collaboration in the cloud through two-tier distribution),
* 700,000 seats sold.

It's the 700,000 number that is the issue. This number just doesn't seem that high after so many years. And it doesn't even mean 700,000 active users. It refers to licenses purchased by service providers--some of whom have yet to deliver Dollar or Euro One of revenue to anyone but Cisco.

And the 700,000 number hasn't been growing very quickly. Cisco explains that it only includes Hosted Collaboration Service--a single-instance offer that is about three years old--and not the licenses sold under HUCS. But shouldn't the uptake be millions by now?

A Cisco executive described WebEx as the second largest application cloud after Salesforce. It seems that WebEx should have been a bigger driver of cloud success across the portfolio than it has been.

"Tomorrow starts here" could describe a reset that the cloud collaboration business seems to be headed toward between now and the end of the year. What indications are there that a change is in the offing? The appointment of Rowan Trollope as the head of the Collaboration business in November 2012 is one solid piece of evidence. Before Cisco, Trollope was Group President and GM of the SMB and Symantec.Cloud Business Unit at Symantec. The relevant word there is cloud.

I had the opportunity during a Q&A session with Cisco CEO John Chambers and COO Gary Moore to pose the following question: "Cisco has had great success in the cloud with its data center and UCS solutions. Growth of Hosted Collaboration Service is arguably lagging that. You have the major carriers signed up. Do you think those service provider partners are moving quickly enough and/or are there issues with the mix of collaboration applications you have given them to offer?"

Chambers, never one to pull punches, answered, "We have to get our collaboration act together." He mentioned the addition of Trollope to the senior management team, with both cloud and software expertise. He alluded to other organizational changes that are occurring within the collaboration organization as well that might result in additional new talent.

John Hernandez (VP and GM for Collaboration Business Applications) said this about Trollope during the Cloud Collaboration roundtable discussion: "Rowan has been here 8 months now. He spent the first seven months in listen mode. He's going into execution mode."

October 22nd is the date set for the next Cisco Collaboration Summit. I'm looking forward to seeing what form the next evolution of cloud collaboration solutions from Cisco takes.

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