Cisco Jabber is not a household name yet. But a long-term showdown -- involving Cisco Jabber vs. Microsoft Skype -- could eventually emerge, especially in the business market where Microsoft (MSFT) and Cisco (CSCO) both compete and cooperate. The story starts with Cisco's latest TelePresence initiatives but it ultimately leads to end points, tablets and smart phones... and Cisco Jabber, an upstart video instant messaging and collaboration platform. Here are the implications for channel partners.

During recent WebEx meeting between The VAR Guy and Richard McLeod, senior director of business development at Cisco Systems, McLeod could barely contain his enthusiasm.

The discussion involved:
  • Cisco extending its Jabber collaboration portfolio to the Apple iPad and Windows. Jabber, a potential Skype alternative, already was available for Android, iPhone, Mac, BlackBerry and Cisco Cius tablets. Jabber supports presence, instant messaging (IM), voice, video, voice messaging, and conferencing.
  • Cisco introducing the TelePresence TX9000 Series. It's basically the fusion of Cisco and Tandberg technologies. Compared to Cisco's previous TelePresence systems, the T9000 requires 20 percent less bandwidth and partners can deploy the system in half the time of previous systems, McLeod said. The $299,000 system is roughly the same price as previous Cisco options, but offers far more capabilities and a lower total cost of ownership.
Blend Jabber and the TelePresence systems together, and channel partners can empower customers to offer collaboration solutions across all types of endpoints. "Whether you're in an immersive TelePresence room or using a PC, a Mac, a tablet or a smart phone, you can collaborate anywhere," asserted McLeod.

For channel partners, the new TelePresence and Jabber offerings open up opportunities for managed TelePresence services, mobile application management (MAM), network infrastructure upgrades and more.

Emerging Battle?

McLeod did not mention any potential Jabber vs. Skype showdowns during his discussion with The VAR Guy. Clearly, Cisco wants Jabber and the TelePresence TX9000 to drive demand for new Cisco network infrastructure.

But the potential Cisco Jabber vs. Microsoft Skype showdown popped into The VAR Guy's head multiple times during the discussion. Jabber looks and sounds pretty slick. And Microsoft has raised a few eyebrows since acquiring Skype for roughly $8.5 billion last year.

The VAR Guy suspects Skype strategy updates will surface at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2012 (June 8-12, Toronto). And the potential synergies between Skype and Microsoft Lync in the business market are undeniable.

Still, don't overlook Jabber.