Sometimes, small deals are big indicators about where companies are heading next. Cisco's $215 million acquisition of PostPath, for instance, speaks volumes about where John Chambers is taking the networking giant. Some folks say it's a direct attack against Microsoft Exchange. The VAR Guy claims otherwise.

Traditional email systems are old school. Large enterprises are tired of managing Exchange Server, Lotus Notes and the like -- but they continue to put up with the software because it's a necessary evil. The VAR Guy doesn't think Cisco is heading into that slow-growing, mature market.

Talk to Chambers about Cisco's future, and he'll utter the word "collaboration" a few dozen times during even the shortest of conversations.

All About Open Source?

Sure, PostPath runs on Linux and it competes with Exchange. If The VAR Guy wanted to generate some real traffic with this post, he would have suggested that Cisco is going to wage an open source email war against Microsoft.

But that's not the case. (At least not yet...) What Cisco really wants to do is leapfrog beyond the email discussion, and put the spotlight on WebEx. In theory, PostPath could bolster the collaboration capabilities of WebEx.

Ironically, The VAR Guy was on the phone with Cisco yesterday, viewing a WebEx demo. The system sure looked slick -- but our resident blogger has had mixed experiences attending WebEx seminars (shaky voice and sound connections, etc.), so he's not fully sold on the platform.

Still, it's good to see Cisco investing in WebEx by acquiring Postpath. And even more important, it's good to see Cisco acquiring companies. During the dot-com implosion, Cisco's acquisition spree slowed down dramatically. The PostPath buy suggests Cisco feels pretty good about the economy. At least, that's The VAR Guy's take on the situation.

Of course, opinions about the deal vary widely. For more tech background about PostPath, and a look at why the deal may truly target Microsoft, Check out what Steven J. Vaughan Nichols has to say.