Cisco and its partners are looking to wrest back some ground from Microsoft in the unified communications (UC) space with the launch of the networking vendor's Jabber application.
Jabber, which works with all client devices and operating systems, allows users to access Cisco's voice, video, presence, messaging, presence and conferencing platforms. There are no server or client licensing costs for existing customers.
Wayne Stephens, EMEA director of Cisco's Collaboration Partner Organisation, claimed that, despite the lack of licence revenue, VARs can use Jabber to create upsell opportunities and drive adoption of the wider collaboration portfolio. He added that it could help partners win market share from Microsoft.
"Some deals get stalled by the fact that customers say ‘I have [Microsoft] Lync in my licence estate'. I think this should help," he added.
Mike Danson, managing director of partner Touchbase UK, told ChannelWeb that Microsoft has enjoyed some success against Cisco in the collaboration space in recent months. He indicated the Cisco had little option but to forego licensing costs for Jabber.
"Cisco had to do it in that way, with Microsoft Lync gaining traction. In a lot of our proof-of-concepts, [the presence of] Lync is the single biggest threat," he said. "Monetising [Jabber] - we all have to handle that. We have to culturally get our heads around that if we are going to stand a chance of beating Microsoft on the desktop, and we need to do it at speed. It is a platform to future profit, and I'm sure there is a services opportunity."
Master and commander
Jabber was the headline announcement on a day dominated by tech talk at the Cisco Partner Summit, taking place in San Diego this week. Cloud was, unsurprisingly, a major focus and partners voiced a positive reaction to yesterday's news that the latest Cisco Master specialisation will be for cloud builders. Resellers refuted the suggestion that Master badges can represent a large investment for something that may not be a deal-breaker for customers.
Chris Gabriel, vice president of solutions management at Logicalis, said: "[Master certifications are] less customer-facing, so much as inward-facing into Cisco. I think one of the things Cisco has done better than anybody is provide support in building out clouds. It is more than a badge, it is an engagement that we have [with Cisco]."
Steven Sanderson, senior manager of cloud go-to-market for Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organisation, told ChannelWeb that, in addition to increased rebates, partners can benefit from greater traction with customers.
"We are going out of our way to actively promote it so that customers recognise the [Master] brand, as well as our own sales force," he said. "They find a lot of opportunities, and they need to go to our approved cloud builders."
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