Cisco is upping the unified communications stakes with the launch of Cisco Jabber, which will bring presence, instant messaging, voice and video, voice messaging, desktop sharing and conferencing to the device of your choice.
While Mac users will have to wait until the summer, Jabber is available today or in development for Windows, iPhone, iPad, Nokia, Android and BlackBerry platforms. The application also integrates with Cisco video endpoints including Unified IP Phones, WebEx MeetingCenter and TelePresence connections.
Prior to acquiring Jabber in late 2008, Cisco had been working with the real-time messaging company to integrate its Unified MeetingPlace conferencing product with Jabber Extensible Communications Platform (Jabber XCP). This week's announcement means users can collaborate from any workspace and any device, says Cisco. It's not just about the PC anymore, Cisco adds.
Based on the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) for presence and IM, Jabber enables users to interact with others regardless of whether they're using applications from Google, IBM, Microsoft or AOL. In addition, the integration with Microsoft Office enables users to see a colleague's availability status and escalate communications to an instant message, phone call or conference from within the application, says Cisco.
In addition to the Jabber announcement, the company also unveiled two unified communications solutions for small and midsized businesses. The Cisco Unified Communications 300 Series for two to 24 users includes data and wireless support, along with features such as voicemail and automated attendant.
Its bigger brother, the Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000, supports 300 users across 10 sites. The 320W is currently available, listing at $995, while the 3000 is scheduled to be available in the second quarter, at $12,400 for 100 users.
According to the most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications (Oct. 15, 2010), Microsoft, Cisco and Avaya (in that order) were the only three in the Leaders quadrant, down from six vendors last year. However, it cautions that despite the emergence of complete UC portfolios, these products are still in an early stage, and no vendor product adequately addresses all of an enterprise's UC needs.
While analyst Ted Schadler, Forrester, agrees that UC adoption is still a work in progress, he believes Cisco Jabber is a solid branding decision because it unifies Cisco's real-time collaboration assets under a single product line. "But it's also a nice extension to Cisco's unified communications [meaning voice and video conferencing] products. Finally, having a click-to-conference and a soft phone/video client will let Cisco compete directly with Microsoft Lync and IBM Sametime."