Cisco nixes hosted email: Where does email fit in the collaboration mix?

Cisco nixes hosted email: Where does email fit in the collaboration mix?

Summary: Cisco will sunset its Web email, which has been on the market since November 2009 for trial customers. The company plans to focus its collaboration efforts elsewhere.

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Cisco will sunset its Web email, which has been on the market since November 2009 for trial customers. The company plans to focus its collaboration efforts elsewhere.

In a blog post, Cisco said it thought the transition to the cloud would make its hosted email---Cisco Mail---a hit. However, Cisco customers said email is "a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy."

That would be code for the fact Cisco couldn't see a way to scale in a crowded hosted email market. Indeed, it's a bit hard to compete with Google, Microsoft and IBM's Lotus franchise. All offer hosted arrangements.

Cisco said it will reassign the folks that built Cisco Mail to other collaboration projects.

The move to nix hosted email is likely to be blown out of proportion as a retreat given Cisco hired a new operating chief to streamline the company and is in a networking dogfight with Juniper and HP. The Cisco Mail decision should be viewed independently.

But the death of Cisco Mail does raise a larger question: Where does email fit into the collaboration mix?

While most folks acknowledge that email has run its course, the bottom line is that a lot of business is conducted that way. Do collaboration players need email as the price of admission?

I'd argue that email and collaboration are likely to morph into one big category. Clearly, Google thinks email is part of the mix. Microsoft is looking to leverage Outlook as a collaboration tool. In many respects, email is the price of admission to the collaboration category.

What are your thoughts on email and collaboration? Are they separate or the same suite of tools?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Cisco, Collaboration, Software

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3 comments
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  • Should have kept PostPath as an on-premises product

    Exchange is one of Microsoft's most powerful weapons, driving SharePoint adoption, Active Directory, Windows Server upgrades, CRM and, most relevant to Cisco, Lync/Office Communications Server. When customers buy the Enterprise CAL Suite, Microsoft has done most of the work it needs to do to sell its unified comm stack (although the decision to sell the voice CAL separately from the ECAL suite may still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory).
    But it Cisco made its tactical error first, when it pulled PostPath, one of the strongest Exchange competitors, off the market to focus on Web mail. An acquisition, and an opportunity, blown.
    pdegroot
  • Email's role is definitely shifting

    I agree that email and collaboration will become less and less distinct, and that overtime we will become less dependent on email messaging for collaboration as other alternatives become more widely used. This may not be an obvious shift though, as I expect the email client (as it is today) to become the primary vehicle for this in terms of providing access to and integration between these different tools (think IM, web conferencing, document sharing, microblogging, etc etc). There's already some evidence of this happening with Lotus Notes (IBM's Project Vulcan is about doing exactly that) and Outlook (e.g. with the Social Connector).
    aashenden
  • Email is central to collaboration

    I'm surprised that people seem to be so anti-email. It feels like half the world has already written it off, yet we all use it daily. The fact is that it's a person-to-person and person-to-people medium in one, works reliably and ubiquitously, and easily lends itself to persistent storage and presentation as conversations/threads/topics. Emails actually is still pretty great. What isn't great is the dross we receive on it, and some of the baggage associated with it - for instance, many people expect it to be treated like regular mail. Cherished, acted on swiftly, presented clearly and formally. What actually happens is that we all receive tons of it and ignore as much as possible. Mind you, "social media" is significantly worse.
    The trick is to sift email to that important messages get priority. Providers like Google are trying to do this, but it's a long road.
    Eventually, I hope people will forget about the technology and focus more on how they share and receive information. Whether it's via email, web forums, micro-blogs or other channels is largely irrelevant.
    I blogged on this at mikbarne.wordpress.com, for those who want to read further.
    mikbarne