Cisco has announced a new collaboration portfolio designed to help companies accelerate business processes, increase productivity and speed innovation.  The Cisco collaboration portfolio consists of unified communications, video and a new Web 2.0 applications platform all of which leverage the network as the platform to enable people to connect, communicate and collaborate from any workspace.

The portfolio is designed to integrate with business applications, existing IT infrastructure and other web services, and allow developers to create new and customized applications and network-based services.  The new collaboration portfolio products announced today include:
* Unified Communications-Cisco Unified Communications (UC) System Release 7.0, the latest system release offering significant improvements in total cost of ownership, ease of use, and interoperability with business applications.
* Video-Cisco TelePresence Expert-on-Demand that integrates the immersive Cisco TelePresence experience into the contact center for high-value, in-branch customer service and the ability to summon expertise instantly from a Cisco TelePresence meeting.
* Web 2.0 Applications Platform-Cisco WebEx Connect, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that integrates, presence, instant messaging, web meetings and team spaces with traditional and web 2.0 business applications.
"Collaboration is the next phase of the Internet, a phase analysts see as a R272-billion ($34-billion) market opportunity, and at the center of this phase is the network," says Chris Thompson, senior director of solutions marketing: Unified Communications at Cisco. "Our network platform uses open standards protocols to expose critical collaboration services such as presence, instant messaging, call control and policy to a broad range of devices and applications. The Cisco collaboration portfolio leverages this network architecture to create a seamless collaboration experience, from simple text messaging to immersive TelePresence sessions."
With the network as the platform, the Cisco collaboration portfolio is designed to interoperate with business applications, communications devices and web-based tools while allowing IT organisations to maintain their mandate of security, policy and compliance.
An open architecture and standards-based application programming interfaces (API) expose application and network services and support end-user customization, IT integration and third party application and hardware interoperability.
This means customers can create collaborative mashups with public web-based tools as well as corporate applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). This open architecture also allows Cisco collaboration capabilities to be delivered to a range of devices including Windows and Mac OS desktops, and mobile phones running Symbian, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile.
Cisco provides an open application development environments based on Web 2.0 tools and APIs including:
* Cisco Unified Applications Environment (CUAE) to deliver web applications to the Cisco IP Phone screen
* Cisco Applications eXchange Platform (AXP) to expose capabilities within the router to applications in branch offices
* Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance 8.0(4) to provide an open, network security platform that makes it possible for employees to connect and communicate remotely via a virtual private network that converges data and voice. The appliance allows businesses to extend their collaboration capabilities securely with a distributed, agile workforce.
* And now, Cisco WebEx Connect to bring together business applications, web tools and team workspaces.
Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0 enables collaboration so that organisations can quickly adapt to market changes and improve competitive advantage through speed and innovation. Accelerating the deployment of unified communications requires the ability to leverage existing infrastructure and applications.
It offers enhancements to its applications development environment and provides deeper integration with desktop products from IBM and Microsoft. Mobility enhancements extend productivity features across every workspace.
Cisco TelePresence Expert on Demand integrates Cisco Unified Communications and Cisco Unified Contact Center with the immersive "in person" experience of Telepresence to transform the way organisations deliver high-touch customer and point of sale services.
It enables customers to connect with subject-matter experts for tailored, in-person service at the touch of a button.  This gives users the ability to summon expert assistance directly in a Cisco TelePresence meeting or use a dedicated customer-facing Cisco TelePresence endpoint and get face-to-face assistance.
Cisco WebEx Connect is a cloud-based application platform for collaborative business mashups. It includes a number of standard applications including enterprise instant messaging, team spaces, document management, calendaring and wikis, which can be combined with third party widgets built using open APIs, enabling companies to work from a single workspace. Extensive administrative controls support enterprise policy, security and compliance requirements to enable highly secure inter-company collaboration.
Cisco Unified Communications Manager 7.0 and TelePresence Expert-on-Demand are available immediately. WebEx Connect is currently available as a desktop and Web-based client with mobile clients available in early 2009.