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3/7/2007
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Cisco & IBM Partner On New Open Standards Communications Platform At VoiceCon

Cisco is teaming up with IBM to promote industry adoption of unified communications and collaboration via a platform based on open standards like Eclipse and OSGi.

Cisco is serious about driving unified communications and collaboration capabilities into mainstream applications. With already a large presence at this week's VoiceCon conference in Orlando, Florida, Cisco revealed a partnership with IBM to develop a new communications platform based on open standards.

The networking industry is in a transition where voice, data, and video are converging over networks instead of functioning as separate forms of communication, said Charles Giancarlo, Cisco's senior VP and chief development officer, at a Tuesday morning keynote at VoiceCon. "A new generation of users is about to enter the workforce and they're bringing new communications with them: YouTube, IM, and text messaging. They expect to have new tools at their fingertips." That's why Cisco is promoting unified communications, a way of integrating voice, video, and data into a single platform.

Conventional proprietary networking and telephony systems are closed to outside developers, limiting the applications that they can interoperate with. But more vendors like Cisco are pushing toward open standards to broaden the options for businesses. "We want to create an open standards-based environment where communication and collaboration apps could be integrated with business apps," said Giancarlo.

Cisco at VoiceCon said it's teaming up with IBM to promote industry adoption of unified communications and collaboration. The two companies are planning to develop a platform based on open standards like Eclipse and OSGi to allow developers to include collaboration and unified communications in their applications. IBM will offer a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) as a subset of its Lotus Sametime collaboration software and Cisco will offer communication APIs for accessing voice and video services.

Cisco and IBM also will roll out "specific client offerings" based on the new platform and a set of "plug-ins" to combine the collaboration and unified communications capabilities of both companies.

In a separate announcement, Cisco said it's expanding its support for Microsoft's software. Cisco is now providing collaboration capabilities for customers that use Cisco's unified communications tools and Microsoft Exchange 2007, Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005, and Microsoft Office Communicator.

Giancarlo said Cisco has internally deployed telepresence, a form of unified video communications, eliminating the need for executives to travel as often to meet with customers. Now they can meet virtually with them through a video feed and exchange information. Companies that want to replace business travel for their employees can do the same if they move to a unified communications platform, said Giancarlo.

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