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March 6, 2006

Microsoft and Cisco do joint and separate communications deals

Posted by David Hunter at 9:24 AM ET.

Microsoft and Cisco together:

Today, at the VoiceCon 2006 conference, Cisco Systems and Microsoft Corp. announced they are working together to provide collaborative real-time capabilities for businesses through the integration of Microsoft® Office Communicator 2005 and the open Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 with the new SIP-based Cisco Unified Communications system.

The new communications solution from Cisco and Microsoft will allow customers to do the following:

• Click to call as well as transfer phone calls from Office Communicator, eliminating the need for users to act as human middleware

• Launch or answer a phone call from within Office Communicator, and choose to conduct the call from a computer or a desk phone

• View Cisco Unified IP Phone presence status from within Office Communicator, providing users with an expanded view of presence information

• Transparently escalate between Office Communicator instant messaging and voice sessions, enabling users to communicate more effectively

This phase of the Cisco and Microsoft interoperability solution is expected to be generally available in August 2006 for new installations and upgrades to existing customers.

But Cisco isn’t Microsoft’s only partner:

Today at the VoiceCon Spring 2006 conference, Microsoft Corp. announced growing industry support for Microsoft® Office Live Communications Server 2005 as a hub for unified communications solutions that provide rich capabilities to allow people, teams and organizations to communicate simply and effectively while integrating seamlessly with business applications and processes. Microsoft is focused on extending the rich capabilities of presence and people-centric communications to encompass voice and apply the power of desktop software and software platforms to improve and advance communications.

To this end, Microsoft is collaborating with telephony companies to enable further integration between business desktop phones and the rich collaboration environment on the PC, allowing customers to more effectively communicate in real time. Microsoft is working with Alcatel, Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, NEC, Nortel and Siemens to enable Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based interoperability between voice communications solutions and Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile, the PC and mobile phone unified communications clients for Live Communications Server. The solutions will enable business customers to launch and answer private branch exchange (PBX) and Internet protocol-PBX (IP-PBX) phone calls and view phone presence state from within Office Communicator. They also allow customers to seamlessly switch between instant messaging and voice sessions.

And Microsoft isn’t Cisco’s only partner:

Cisco Systems is bundling up its tools for all kinds of communication in enterprises and giving the set an appropriately broad brand name: the Cisco Unified Communications system.

The range of products covers voice, e-mail, text, collaboration, and videoconferencing capabilities, as well as the ability to reach the right person on the first try on matter what device they are using through presence technology. It builds on Cisco’s current lineup offered under the IP Communications banner, namely its CallManager, Unity, MeetingPlace, and IP Contact Center products, and adds three major new software products as well as new features.

More details by following the link, but here’s the nut:

Though it is still immature, SIP will emerge as a glue that will let enterprises combine communication platforms and applications from many vendors, said Forrester Research analyst Elizabeth Herrell.

“SIP is going to force these vendors to stop being so proprietary,” Herrell said. Cisco and other network players are emphasizing overall systems but they are also open to cooperation with software vendors such as Microsoft and IBM, she added.

“They want a common platform, but I’m not sure all the applications on that platform will be theirs,” Herrell said.

The San Jose, California, company also is deepening cooperation with Nokia for mobile IP calling at enterprise sites, allowing a softphone client being developed by Nokia to register as a client on CallManager. This will let employees use the softphone as they would a conventional enterprise phone, with features such as four-digit extensions.

Randy Cook, director of global voice networks at Oracle, welcomes Cisco’s adoption of SIP for call control. Use of the standard, instead of a proprietary protocol used previously, will allow for tighter integration with third-party software such as Oracle’s own applications, he said.

Another good move on Monday will be the introduction of CallManager on a Linux-based hardware platform, Cook said. The appliance will run a hardened version of Linux based on a Red Hat’s distribution of the open-source OS. He would like to move the software off Windows to a more stable OS that is less plagued by viruses, he said.

It looks like anyone’s game at this point and everyone is playing.

Filed under Alliances, Cisco, Coopetition, IBM, Linux, Nokia, Office, Office Communications Server, Open Source, Oracle, Red Hat, Technologies, VoIP

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One Response to “Microsoft and Cisco do joint and separate communications deals”

  1. Microsoft and Cisco promise again to compete but interoperate -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] If you are interested in the details there is a replay of the webcast and a briefing document whose title, Microsoft-Cisco Alliance Update, sums up the situation well enough. Last year (e.g. [1], [2]), Microsoft and Cisco apparently decided that their emerging individual pursuits of the enterprise communications business weren’t playing too well with customers who actually had to use the fairly complex systems. In a nutshell, the average customer will have products from both Cisco and Microsoft (and their respective allies) in house for other reasons and doesn’t want to be forced to choose either one or the other. Hence, this renewal of shotgun wedding vows for the two competitors who will, of course, still be scuffling behind the scenes while smiling for the camera.   Filed under Coopetition, Cisco, Microsoft   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

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