Cisco Bulks Up Its Softer Side With Jabber Buy

Networking giant Cisco Systems said Friday that will acquire instant-messaging software maker Jabber. Terms of the pending deal were not disclosed.

Denver-based Jabber makes an open source instant-messaging software that supports an assortment of devices across a business’ IT network. Jabber also makes it possible for users to talk to one another across different instant-messaging platforms. For example, a user on Yahoo Messenger can connect with another user on Google Talk.

The acquisition is expected to close early next year.

Good Fit for Cisco

San Jose, Calif.- based Cisco has made a number of moves lately intended to streamline data-sharing across corporate networks — the underlying strategy behind its WebEx collaboration platform.

The WebEx platform is a suite of Web-based software applications designed to make it easier for users to communicate via e-mail, voice, video and, now, through Jabber, instant messaging.

“[The Jabber acquisition] kind of fits with what Cisco is doing with WebEx,” Matt Robison, an equity analyst with Pacific Growth Securities, told the E-Commerce Times. “Jabber gets them into instant messaging in a pretty big way.”

Last month, Cisco announced the acquisition of Mountain View, Calif.-based PostPath, which adds cross-network e-mail and calendar-sharing functionality to Cisco’s platform.

“Because of where Cisco sits inside the firewall, Jabber makes it very convenient for them to deliver instant-messaging capabilities,” Robison said. “Cisco touches a lot of their network elements already.”

Move It to the Web

Cisco isn’t the only big player in technology migrating its network communications capabilities to the Web. Microsoft has also been hard at work in that arena.

Cisco’s latest moves could bring it into direct competition with Microsoft, a company with which Cisco has often closely collaborated.

“Cisco and Microsoft are converging as competitors as much as they are as collaborators,” Robison said. “You’ve got Office Communications Server in Microsoft and WebEx at Cisco.”

The development of the WebEx platform could also result in higher sales of Cisco’s bread-and-butter networking equipment, something Microsoft does not have.

“Cisco is going to the customer and proposing a value proposition that says if you choose our software, you’ll be able to reduce cycle times and improve asset utilization,” Robison said. “It’ll give Cisco the chance to sell more switches and routers, both of which are necessary to make this stuff work.”

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