Cisco Kills Hosted E-Mail Service
The cloud services industry may be growing, but there is a limit to how many providers the market can support. A case in point: Cisco Systems has quietly shut down its Cisco Mail hosted messaging offering after 13 months of limited release. Cisco says that it’s going to honor existing contracts with support through their expiration and assist customers in their migration to other messaging platforms, but they’re not accepting new users. What went wrong?
The answer, in short, is nothing. Cisco Mail, by all accounts, was a well-received, highly functional, and price-competitive SaaS offering. And no one’s getting fired over the failure — Cisco’s blog entry indicates that all software engineers on the project are getting reassigned to other new initiatives. Also of note: Cisco Senior VP Edison Peres earlier this week said Cisco has no intention of competing with service providers — a key differentiator as Cisco strives to help VARs profit from cloud computing.
But while Cisco’s blog entry announcing the shuttering of Cisco Mail doesn’t say it in so many words, the real roadblock between the offering and audience was the fact that, well, it was only mail.
E-mail, as Open-Xchange CEO Rafel Laguna would tell you, is a commodity these days. What customers are looking for are a way to build social collaboration, productivity, and conferencing tools on top of their messaging systems. Google Apps, for example, layers productivity tools on top of and integrated with the cloud messaging.
To that end, Cisco is refocusing on their collaboration architecture, rather than abandon the SaaS market entirely. But let this be a lesson — if a major IT player like Cisco couldn’t differentiate their messaging offering enough to find a fanbase, smaller cloud service providers should proceed with caution.