Enterprise collaboration continues to be a major focus for networking giant Cisco, which on Friday announced new features for its yet-to-be-released Quad enterprise collaboration offering that roll in new enhancements targeting users of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Cisco also unveiled an enhanced WebEx conferencing platform and a cloud storage system that integrates with the iPhone, iPad and Cisco's own Flip MinoPro camcorder.
Cisco calls Quad an "immersive platform" for enterprise collaboration that integrates voice, video and social networking into one space. Currently in beta testing, Cisco Quad is set to be available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia/New Zealand by this fall, with a broader worldwide release to follow.
The company has been charging hard into enterprise collaboration. In November, Cisco CEO John Chambers outlined the importance of enterprise collaboration in tandem with a slew of new Cisco collaboration, e-mail and communications announcements. While social media services like Facebook and Twitter and have enjoyed booming popularity among consumers, Chambers said they don't have the security, compliance and other business-oriented features enterprise that CIOs demand.
Now, Cisco is further refining Quad to better meet enterprise needs. With the platform's newest enhancements, Cisco said users will be able to search across all content within their organization as well as locate people and expertise online. Mobile Quad apps optimized for the iPad and iPhone will also be available.
Cisco said Quad integrates with content management systems such as Microsoft SharePoint and Documentum as well as Cisco's Unified Communications, WebEx conferencing, Unified Presence and Show and Share, Cisco's video-sharing system.
"In the past, video was used primarily as a communication tool, but now we're seeing it being used more and more as a content tool," Grace Kim, senior manager of marketing for Cisco's WebEx collaboration suite, told InternetNews.com. "As a content tool, we want to make video available for collaboration and that's what we're doing with Quad, making video part of the ecosystem."
Cisco is also talking up enhancements to WebEx and its Prosumer Video offering.
Cisco WebEx Connect 6.5, the latest version of Cisco's instant messaging software, gives users access to their contact lists and the ability to send IMs via a browser-based IM client that doesn't require any client download. Cisco said the system's server-side IM logging will let organizations capture logs of all IM traffic for more efficient regulatory compliance, and companies already archiving e-mail can continue to use their existing infrastructure.
Cisco Prosumer Video, set for availability in August through Cisco's channel partners, gives enterprises a private and "highly secure end-to-end solution" for video capture and management. The system includes a new cloud-based video workspace called FocalPoint and works with a new "business-class" version of Cisco's mini-camcorder called Flip MinoPRO that can store up to four hours of video.
Cisco's FlipShare software, pre-loaded on the camcorder, is designed to let users edit, store and manage video content locally on a workstation and share the content with individual colleagues, teams or other parts of the organization via the FocalPoint cloud. Cisco said the software client uses an encrypted upload protocol while FocalPoint uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to ensure highly secure Web sessions and data protection.
With its latest announcements, Cisco aims to tap into a need for more collaboration tools for an increasingly mobile workforce.
"More than 90 percent of organizations now consider themselves 'virtual,' with work groups physically separated across offices, regions or continents," Irwin Lazar, vice president of communications and collaboration at Nemertes Research, said in a statement. "Couple this with the speed of today's global economy, and the result is a need to rapidly support interaction-oriented collaboration. We see rapid growing interest in, and adoption of, solutions including social media, video, and content sharing, to enable globally dispersed workforces to securely collaborate productively, within and across firewalls from both desktops and mobile devices."