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Cisco goes deeper into unified communications

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The company is buying Jabber, a U.S. maker of strong presence and messaging software to boost its collaboration capabilities. An industry analyst believes the move is a shot at Cisco partners IBM and Microsoft

Cisco Systems intends to extend the collaboration capabilities of its unified communications products by buying a maker of carrier-strength presence and messaging software.

The company is buying privately-held Jabber Inc. of Denver for an undisclosed price to boost not only Cisco's on-premise products but also its hosted WebEx collaboration service.

"We bought Jabber because we think presence and messaging need to be a ubiquitously available service for the next generation of applications," said David Knight, Cisco's senior director of product development, "and they've got the best platform to do that."

Cisco intends to integrate Jabber technology WebEx and some of its various Unified Communications telephony products, after which the Jabber products will disappear. Jabber customers will be given an option of shifting to either the WebEx or a Cisco UC product.

Cisco partners with IBM and Microsoft on their messaging and unified communications platforms, but Knight suggested they're not enough for enterprises with a wide range of remote offices as well as partners, distributors and customers around the world.

While not directly speaking to IBM or Microsoft products, Knight said that "people have some pretty simple messaging applications to simply connect to people, and mostly behind the firewall. No one is making this a widely available service, and that's what we intend to do."

Knight called the acquisition "a very significant deal we're going to have a very robust platform that spans enterprise and hosted networks, and that's a pretty big deal. I think it's the basis of a whole new generation of applications."

The deal shows that Cisco is working to plug key holes in...