When Cisco acquired WebEx, the technology world waited in anticipation for what the combined company would bring to market. Cisco answered back recently by releasing a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) communications platform that brings users a combined presence, instant messaging, Web meeting and team space for workplace collaboration. The company aims to offer an attractive set of communication tools that will deter enterprise users from looking for external options that are outside organizations' firewalls. Cisco WebEx Connect is designed around enabling communication and collaboration while respecting the security and management surrounding an enterprise application.

Addressing the New Enterprise

Cisco has learned that in a changing workplace, enterprises need communication solutions for business processes to move. Today, co-workers are communicating with one another via instant messaging, voicemail, video-conferencing and screen sharing applications. Looking beyond Unified Communications, a need exists for a toolset of collaboration options for communication among co-workers and business partners such as channel partners, customers and others. If such a toolset does not exist from an enterprise's IT department, individuals are more likely to seek outside Web-based services to satisfy their business requirements. Cisco, by merging the capabilities of WebEx and Cisco Unified Communication in Cisco WebEx Connect, provides a solution to this problem.

The Cisco WebEx Toolbox

Cisco WebEx Connect provides an online home to the various types of data associated with projects. Using WebEx's trademark tools such as wikis, calendaring and social bookmarking, the product combines Cisco's Unified Communication platform with integrated messaging components (such as video conferencing, instant messaging, email and voicemail) to enhance a project work site. IT can administer the site; therefore, enabling an enterprise to enforce corporate information policies and security to project work spaces. Cisco WebEx Connect
Cisco WebEx Connect

What Cisco WebEx Connect Means

For today's enterprises and organizations with proprietary information flowing around their network, the thought of confidential intellectual property ending up on Twitter or YouTube is a frightening one. With Cisco WebEx Connect, employees and project participants now have a useful cloud-based home for their project workspaces and communications needs. For IT, they have a way to facilitate the communication and collaboration, all while preserving the organization's policies and security. Having the project home page on the Web will empower enterprises to engage with customers and partners outside the host company's firewall. This feature will avoid a complicated set-up involving solutions such as VPN or a reverse proxy server. Cisco WebEx Connect seems eerily similar to Microsoft SharePoint. While SharePoint has better integration with Microsoft Office products and a Microsoft-based network, Cisco WebEx Connect offers project managers and participants an attractive option. Cisco is wise to integrate the new service with its existing messaging option, as this is a distinction from Microsoft's SharePoint product. If a company already has a Cisco Unified Communication platform as a component of their daily workflow, Cisco WebEx Connect will undoubtedly pique interest.