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Software, Software, Software

Having made a quick perusal of the web, it seems no one else has addressed this particular angle from C-Scape in detail. Many of the stories, e.g., from Jon Arnold, have focused on TelePresence and the use of video. This is understandable given that the two-day session opened with Cisco CEO John Chambers conducting a 45-minute TelePresence with a CIO from Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, a professor from the Sloan School at MIT in Cambridge and the controller of the future media and technology group from the BBC in London.

While video is obviously important to Cisco (would that everyone would create the network infrastructure to support wideband video in Cisco-built rooms), for me the Software, Software, Software session contained fascinating data points on how Cisco may choose to compete with Microsoft in the coming years.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Don Proctor, who until mid-2007 had responsibility for Cisco's Voice Technology Group, now heads an organization called the Software Group. Under that umbrella is included Voice Technology Group, the Collaboration Software Group (WebEx), Network Software and Systems (the group that manages the Cisco operating system IOS), and Policy Management, created from the recently acquired Securent.

Cutting to the chase, here are some thoughts on the implications of this new group:

* "Organization is one way we have to drive change in the business," a quote from Proctor during the session. If Cisco wants all of these currently disparate technologies (Unified Communication Manager, IOS, WebEx) to work more tightly together, what better place to start than with a unified team (pun intended) and a single vision headed by an executive with a successful track record?

* Alan Baratz: Just as organization can drive change, people can as well. Heading the IOS organization is a new executive with an impressive resume, including managing the organization at Sun Microsystems that drove the growth and adoption of the Java platform. With no historical loyalty to IOS, Baratz talked about componentizing IOS and moving it to a UNIX environment. * WebEx Hosted Communications Solutions: Combined with the assets of the Voice Technology Group, Cisco has a real opportunity to jumpstart delivery of communications applications via a software as a service model.

* IOS versus Windows? One of the touted advantages of Microsoft's Office Communications Server is its tight integration to applications that are already pervasive in the enterprise environment. Cisco's networking market share rivals that of Windows.

Is the new battlefield network-based IOS/ Unified Communications Manager versus a desktop-based Windows/OCS?