Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cisco Collaboration Summit - Day 2

Tuesday was end-to-end Cisco, starting at 8, going through til 5 with a series of presentations around various aspects of collaboration and cloud services. It was a pretty intense day, and if there was one thing everyone could agree one, it was the overwhelming amount of information.

There was definitely a lot of interesting content here - a mix of demos, announcements and vision - but it's not the kind of thing you can distill into a sentence of two. To me, that's the strength and weakness of events like this. It's a strength in that having us all here is an efficient way to get all this information across - fair enough. However, it's also up to us to make sense of it all, and with so many new things to take in, everyone will have their own take on what Cisco is doing here.

Without a doubt, the word of the day around here is "collaboration", and it turns up in about every third sentence. Fair enough, and there's no doubt that the focus is on how people work together, and Cisco wants to be in the middle of all this. Until recently, most of Cisco's messaging has been around the network and convergence of various technologies. There's a definite shift now from convergence to collaboration, but as we're seeing across all the sessions, there are so many branches to this tree.

As hard as Cisco is trying to be the great enabler of collaboration, it's a very broad pallet, and these capabilities don't emerge overnight. They're about as far along as any company can possibly be, and as you get your head around the scope of all this, you have to wonder how willing and able enterprises are to run with Cisco. No doubt Cisco is getting its share of traction, but I think it's going to take some time for businesses to catch up with all this, especially since we heard very little about the ROI story.

I'll leave you with some photos and narrative to give you a sense of the topics we heard about yesterday. If there was one takeway to share it was their WebEx Mail announcment. I commented about this briefly in the last two photos below, but I'll also point you to an article that David Greenfield wrote yesterday on ZDNet about the news.

I should add that the genesis of this story very much embodied the spirit of collaboration we've been hearing so much about here. During the WebEx Mail demo yesterday, I was IM'g with David on Skype, and within an hour I had given him enough narrative and one of my photos for him to get an article written and posted. That's pretty much a real-time form of collaboration, and I'll bet he had the very first published article about this launch. Way to go, Dave!

I'll stop now, and leave you with some photos.

Demo with David Knight and the virtues for enterprises to use a blend of premise based and cloud based collaboration solutions

Charles Stucki and the rationale for Cisco's big push into video

Video demo where Charles talked about Tandberg and how Cisco can seamlessy interop with Tandberg, Polycom and Lifesize - all at the same time

Rick Emery, talking about what Jabber brings to Cisco

Laurent Philonenko demonstrating Cisco Unified Presence 8.0, and their advanced capabilities for working across various IM platforms

Murali Sitaram talking about ESS - Enterprise Social Software - and Show and Share, their new solution to enable video-based collaboration. Pretty neat stuff, including tagging video content and making it searchable, just as you would with text-based content.

Duncan Greatwood and the "evolution of email". This was the highlight for me, and we got a solid demo of their just-launched WebEx Mail service. For any heavy user of email, it wasn't hard to see how they've added intelligence, and made the user experience more powerful. It's especially attractive in that you never have to leave the email interface to do other things such as start a chat session, retrieve and review files, and access the personal profile and contact history of anyone in your log of messages.

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