RealTime IT News

Cisco Takes Comms Mobile With Orative

Cisco Systems  today moved to improve its Unified Communications system by buying software maker Orative Corp. for $31 million in cash.

Orative, of San Jose, Calif., makes Enterprise Software, an application that will allow Cisco to leverage its communications and IT suite via smartphones and cell phones.

Representing a new trend in blending communications products with IT gear, the Unified Communications system is a suite of voice, video and IP communications products that tap into all services in a network "from anywhere, with any device, at anytime."

Cisco will mix Orative's Enterprise Software with its Cisco Unified CallManager for call control, Cisco MeetingPlace for collaboration and Cisco Unity as the voicemail platform.

The combination will let mobile phone users coordinate conversations, collaborate with colleagues, view information on voicemail messages, screen unwanted telephone calls and access personal and corporate phonebooks.

The Orative acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2007. Should the deal close, Orative's 33 employees and product portfolio will be integrated into Cisco's Voice Technology Group under Senior Vice President Donald Proctor.

The buy points to recent company pronouncements to be more active in collaborative communications, or allowing multiple employees to communicate via voice, video, data and mobile applications, said Cisco CEO John Chambers.

During recent keynote sessions at Gartner's Symposium ITxpo and Oracle's OpenWorld customer show, Chambers said the networking giant's plan is to make more products that bring more data to more businesses at a faster clip.

"Collaboration, unified communications, tele-presence, virtual meetings – the ability to meet each others [from across long distances] in the same room," Chambers said at OracleWorld Tuesday. These have huge implications, and not just for travel," he said.

"Collaboration will be the next frontier. It will be the power of the human network in ways that we're just beginning to understand. There are huge implications for revenue streams."

Cisco's Unified Communications plan aims to realize Cisco's quadruple play dream in revenue streams.

Hence the recent investments: Before the Orative bid, Cisco spent $47.8 million in cash on IP communications software maker Metreos Corp. and VoiceXML software maker Audium Corp.

Cisco traditionally competes with Nortel , Alcatel  and Juniper  in the market for networking hardware and related software, but its increased interest and acquisition of certain middleware components places it into direct competition with IBM , Oracle  and BEA Systems .