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Cisco pushes package for mobile collaboration

The Collaboration in Motion initiative pulls together a range of Cisco products, with the promise of making it easier for mobile workers to jump from wired to wireless to cellular workspaces
Written by Sally Whittle, Contributor

Cisco has launched a product initiative designed to make it easier for mobile employees to move between wired, wireless and cellular networks while working.

The Collaboration in Motion programme, announced on Tuesday, brings together products and services from the company's WebEx conferencing service, the Unified Communications system, Unified Wireless Network and Cisco Advanced Services. It includes WebEx software for the iPhone that is downloadable free from Apple's Apps store, and the Cisco Compatible Extensions Services programme, a revamp of its existing system that lets device makers select the most relevant service for their hardware.

On the hardware side, Cisco is putting forward its new 5500 series Wireless Controller, tailored to 802.11n networks. It is also setting up the Cisco Developer Program for Mobility in the hope of building a community of developers around the initiative.

The intention is to provide customers with a simple way to bridge the gap between wired networks, mobile cellular networks and wireless internet networks, said Ray Smets, general manager for Cisco Wireless Networking, in a statement.

"Modern businesses are comprised of workspaces that are rarely physically connected, and critical business information is collected and shared using mobile and wireless devices. Our approach with Collaboration in Motion is to help create a borderless organisation," he said.

The announcement may help Cisco position itself as a one-stop shop for enterprises, said Clive Longbottom, a research director with Quocirca. However, customers should be aware that interoperability is still a major issue in unified communications, and vendor lock-in could be a possibility.

"I think this is just pulling together various parts of the message, which is fine, but remember that nobody is offering full interoperability, and you need to think about what you'll use wireless systems for," Longbottom told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

One competitor could be Siemens Enterprise Communications, which launched OpenScape Mobility in October. That system brings together a range of unified-communications products including enterprise telephony, wireless and video.

Customers using unified communications for instant messaging or VoIP will find life easier than those hoping to use video, says Longbottom. "With SIP and VoIP, there are now standards in place, but if you want to use video, then it's important to think about what you'll be using and how it all fits together," he said.

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