Cisco Miami: Microsoft vs. Cisco in 2008
The VAR Guy tried his best to avoid tech talk this week. He spent the past two days blogging about marketing, branding and PR strategies during Cisco’s first marketing forum for partners in Miami. But this morning during breakfast, a discussion with four Cisco partners turned technical. The big topic at hand: Cisco, Microsoft and their unified showdown. Here’s what solutions providers expect in 2008.
First, some background: The VAR Guy promised this morning’s sources that he wouldn’t reveal their names in this blog entry. The discussion included a big government integrator, a regional service provider and SMB VARs.Initially, the chat focused on Web 2.0 technologies — particularly blogs written by VARs for their customers. Then, the dialog somehow shifted to Cisco … and Microsoft. How will they compete, how will they cooperate? How will they coexist in the unified communications market?
One VAR working with both companies strongly believes that Microsoft will leverage old strategies to push into this new market. A prime example: In the 1990s, Windows NT Server originally cost $1,000 per server and there were no client license fees to access the server. Fast forward to the present, and the VAR thinks Microsoft will give away VoIP phones in a bid to attack Cisco from the desktop.
But are Cisco and Microsoft really enemies in this market? Not always. Sure, Microsoft works most closely with Nortel Networks in the unified market. But during a recent Microsoft event with Nortel on hand, Microsoft executives spent more time speaking about Cisco interoperability than Nortel interoperability.
Another key topic that came up this morning: The death of desktop phones. One solutions provider pointed to recent college graduates. They typically own one smart phone for voice, text messaging, email, and more. No more land line. No more home phone.
That trend, the solutions provider asserted, could spill over into the business market. Incoming workers may not want company-provided desk phones in the future. Rather, they may want their office “identity” mapped to their personal smart phone.Hmmm. The VAR Guy would welcome that power on his iPhone. Oh my. Where does Apple fit in all this? Cisco has been taking a close look at the iPhone. And Apple recently announced a software development kit for the iPhone. It ships in February…. …. … Stay tuned.