Cisco has quietly acquired Collaborate.com to bolster its mobile and cloud-based collaboration strategy. The company also has federation capabilities that help business users communicate externally with third parties.
Collaborate.com is a Boston-based startup that offers integrated, cloud-based instant messaging, document sharing and task management through a Web browser or mobile application for iOS and Android devices. Some observers speculated that the Collaborate.com URL itself may have caught Cisco's eye, too. But the acquisition will help keep the vendor's collaboration strategy in line with market trends -- like mobility and cloud -- while making federation more of a reality for its users.
"Collaborate's platform integrates with email and third-party cloud services to make collaborating efficiently … while on-the-go that much easier, … [allowing] workers [to] instantly create virtual collaboration rooms where they can chat and share documents, notes, photos and videos," wrote Hilton Romanski, Cisco's senior vice president of business development, in a blog post.
While the Collaborate.com platform allows users to integrate collaboration and communication directly into their workflow, questions remain about how, or if, Collaborate's capabilities will be integrated with WebEx Social, Cisco's standalone enterprise social platform.
Cisco will probably integrate Collaborate.com's technology with WebEx Meeting Spaces, Cisco's cloud-based platform that gives users access to recordings of past meetings, document sharing and communication with colleagues via IM, voice and video, said Tim Banting, principal analyst for collaborations and communication for Washington, D.C.-based Current Analysis Inc. "Integration with WebEx Meeting Spaces will extend Cisco's reach to a more mobile workforce and allow users to federate with other businesses -- rather than just internally collaborate and communicate," he said. "That federation capability within the collaboration market is really important as we look into 2014."
The acquisition may also help Cisco target small- to medium-sized customers, which have shown more interest in cloud-based unified communications (UC) than larger enterprises. "Cisco has really focused on the enterprise space historically," Banting said. "I think developing its mobile and cloud technology will help make their [collaboration] offerings more appealing to the SMB market."
Cloud-based, mobile collaboration apps lack integration
In addition to helping businesses communicate externally with third parties -- such as partners -- Collaborate.com's technology could also enable integrations between disparate cloud-based collaboration applications, an approach that Siemens -- recently rebranded as Unify -- is pushing with Project Ansible, said Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Mokena, Ill.-based Nemertes Research Group Inc.
Businesses adopting cloud-based apps for UC are noticing there often isn't a way to integrate these separate, stand-alone applications, he said. "On the surface, the acquisition [could] help with federating various cloud-based collaboration applications into a single user workspace -- [such as] Box.com, cloud-based email, etc.," Lazar said.