Cisco updates TelePresence, unified communications products

Cisco TelePresence TX9000A new, easier and quicker to install TelePresence suite may open the door for more partners to get in on Cisco Systems’ immersive videoconferencing experience, company executives say.

Cisco Tuesday morning introduced the latest products in its TelePresence and unified communications families, and chief among the new products was the Cisco TelePresence TX9000, the latest evolution of its flagship “in-room” immersive videoconferencing solution.

The TX9000 brings together Cisco’s TelePresence package and technologies from its acquisition of Tandberg. The result, said Richard McLeod, senior director of worldwide channels collaboration sales at Cisco, is TelePresence “moving from the boardroom to the mainstream,” including new roles in other “high-intensity” collaboration assignments, such as product development and engineering design, strategic planning, brainstorming, and “war rooms.”

With the TX9000, Cisco moves from a full-room to a freestanding solution, reducing the cost and complexity of the solution, but still driving the immersive approach. It’s a three-screen design with a built-in desk, just like its forebear. And like the previous generation, it’s available in a “two row” version for situations where companies need to bring up to 18 people into the same collaboration session.

But it differs dramatically in the partner process when it comes to deployment. McLeod said the TX9000 can typically be up and running in “less than two days,” meaning the deployment is one-third to one-half the time required for its predecessors. It will also be deployable in more locations because the TX9000 requires 20 per cent less bandwidth than previous generations.

A larger total addressable market and reduced installation time mean there’s more time and budget for partners to deliver value-added services on top of TelePresence. There’s also an opportunity for more partners to get involved as the footprint of the solution grows into more and more businesses.

The company is “careful” to bring partners into the high-end of the TelePresence space, and it remains an invitation-only area, McLeod said. But more invitations are being issued to the company’s Advanced Unified Communications partners, he added.

“Very quickly, you can see this portfolio of partners expanding as customer demand upticks,” he said.

As TelePresence catches on, McLeod posited that it could drive a network refresh cycle for Cisco partners unseen since the early 2000s with Power over Ethernet and Quality of Service drove substantial investment.

On the unified communications side, the company has introduced new versions of its Jabber software suite for Windows and for the iPad, extending what was once an instant messaging client to include presence, voice and voicemail, video, and desktop sharing. With those platforms in place, Jabber now runs on both major desktop platforms, as well as RIM, Android and Apple iOS mobile platforms.

Cisco also announced tightened connections between Jabber and Microsoft Office software products, particularly its Outlook e-mail and collaboration application, part of what McLeod describes as the “click to anything” approach it’s taking.

“As people become more and more mobile, they can become more disconnected, or with the right tools, it can be just as good or better than being there,” he said.

Demand for mobile access is high in Canada, said Ian Gallagher, systems engineer manager for collaboration at Cisco Canada. Although mobile data rates have historically been high in Canada, the demand to reduce corporate travel and provide the best possible experience to employees and customers have led to high demand.

“With more and more mobility, and a greater percentage of users spending their time mobile, mobility is right at the top of the list” for IT departments here, he said.

Cisco Canada has had success with mobility solutions across the board, but verticals with particular hotspots include banking and financial markets, healthcare, education, and government, Gallagher added.

It’s also an area where the company has a large and well-defined group of partners – and those ranks have swelled in recent years as the company has either gained the business of former Nortel UC partners, or gained more share of business from partners it shared with Nortel/Avaya, according to McLeod.

Both the TX9000 family and the revised Cisco Jabber client are expected to debut in the second quarter of 2012.