First there was Notes and then Exchange. This week the collaboration suite space got a lot more competitive with both Cisco and Oracle introducing new collaboration suites.
This morning Cisco will announce WebEx Connect as part of a broader Unified Communications push that also includes Cisco Unified Communications Release 7 and Cisco Telepresence Expert on Demand. WebEx Connect is an open collaboration space that pulls together voice Instant Messaging, Web conferencing, video conferencing, e-mail, calendaring, and discussion boards. WebEx Connect also supports widgets for extending collaboration capabilities. Release 7 adds 100 features to Cisco’s UC platform. Telephony Expert on Demand is a Telepresence kiosk so branch offices can share experts located in the main office.
The news comes on the heels of Oracle's Beehive announcement this week at OracleWorld. Beehive is an open, integrated communications system with instant messaging, video conferencing, and e-mail. (See Larry’s summary and video of the Beehive launch and Dana great analysis of the economics underlying enterprise messaging. )
Clearly both vendors will target their installed bases and many will adopt the technology due to a common sales and support structure. But for those evaluating the application in the context of Notes and Exchange what will they offer that the existing incumbents lack?
For Cisco, the emphasis will be on three points:
- Delivery Mechanism. WebEx Connect is delivered as Software As A Service (SAAS) so overhead costs should be be significantly lower than with a premise-based solution, such as Notes and Exchange. Larger organizations will prefer the flexibility of hosted based solutions, but Small to Medium sized Enterprise (SME) will like the lower costs associated with SAAS.
- Tighter Integration with Unified Communications. Cisco will argue that WebEx Connect focuses on pulling together real time elements in tighter way than Notes or Exchange. By contrast, Notes and Exchange users will only get the benefits of real time collaboration with the integration of SameTime or OCS..
- Open standards. Cisco will emphasize that it’s built on open standards.
For Beehive, Oracle is playing up what it calls Collaboration Fragmentation. As a result of the different collaboration applications, there’s been a increase in the number databases, ways of identifying users, managing users, and not to mention security credentials. Oracle will in turn emphasize its database, identity management suite and other applications underling Beehive.
So there you have it: traditional messaging platforms or the new real-time-centric or IT-centric communication platform. Which will you choose?