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How the two companies will integrate products, and what it could mean for Hangouts, WebEx, Google Docs, and collaboration.

Day 2 of the 2014 edition of Enterprise Connect started with a bang. The first keynote of the day was by Cisco’s Collaboration Business Unit General Manager, Rowan Trollope. Although Trollope has presented at other conferences, this was his first Enterprise Connect keynote. As expected, he showed off the new video endpoints the company had announced last week and talked a lot about ease of use and the problems with UC today.

Trollope certainly saved the best for last, though, when he invited Google’s director of product management for Chrome for Business, Rajen Sheth, to join him on stage, then proclaimed that the two tech giants would be teaming up in the area of unified communications. The two companies demonstrated Cisco’s WebEx running natively on a Google Chromebook within a Chrome browser.

WebEx has not been able to run on a Chromebook, the fastest growing segment of the laptop market, because WebEx requires a browser plug in to be installed on the device. I, like many of you reading this, probably use WebEx regularly on a Windows or Mac OS computer, but this partnership opens up the Chromebook market, which now accounts for around 20% of the US laptop market.

The company announces beta schedule and GA plans for its new product.

Enterprise Connect kicked off today in sunny Orlando, FL. Certainly a lot nicer than the weather we’ve been having here in the Northeast where temperatures this morning were single digits. In addition to the great weather, this should be a fantastic conference with many great themes such as cloud and software, and even video is seeing a bit of a rebound. Another point of interest is that this is the first Enterprise Connect for Unify, the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications.

Unify wasted no time in making noise at the conference as early this morning the company issued a press release providing more details on its not-so-stealthly product, Project Ansible. In case you’re not familiar with Ansible, the product is Unify’s next-generation UC platform designed at enabling the new world of work. The company had actually given a few details on the product in July of 2013 at its analyst conference, and then provided a few more highlights when it launched the name Unify in fall of 2013.

A complete product line refresh and some new features are among the highlights.

It seems like ages ago that Cisco first moved into video with the launch of its immersive TelePresence systems, and its subsequent acquisition of Tandberg. Post-acquisition, the entire industry benefitted from the marketing muscle that Cisco brought to a market that had floundered for years. John Chambers and other Cisco executives told us that video would be the new voice, and we had several years where the video industry saw sustained growth as businesses deployed video systems to enhance corporate collaboration and slash travel budgets.

A couple of years ago though, the growth in video infrastructure slowed down, causing some to wonder, is the video industry dead? It’s a fair question, as many of the research firms that track markets have forecasted slow to no growth for video infrastructure over the next several years.

I’m here to warn the entire corporate collaboration industry to watch your backs because the era of consumer collaboration is coming.

This week of February has been filled with some big events. First the Kerravala family went on vacation to Aruba (the country, not Aruba Networks, as some of you have asked). For those of you not lucky enough to be part of this family, you may have enjoyed February school vacation (in MA) or settled for the Lync Conference in Las Vegas. While I’m not at the Lync Conference, I have been following some of the news from the event, and all of us that cover the collaboration market have been more than impressed by the growth that Lync has shown over the past few years–as I wrote in my 2013 wrap-up blog, last year was “The Year of Lync“.

Why is there this much excitement and hype over Lync? We’ve all been fascinated with the momentum of Lync–somewhere between 10 Million or 30 Million seats based on whose numbers you believe; we’ve all had channel partners tell us about the interest they’ve seen as well; and we’ve all seen Microsoft Lync as a huge threat to the traditional UC vendors such as Cisco and Avaya.

Over the past couple of years, Polycom has moved with the trends of software, cloud and mobility, and now it’s time to push the channel in the right direction.

Last week Polycom held its annual channel event, TEAM Polycom, in one of my favorite cities, Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver boasts the mildest climate of all the major cities in Canada and is able to attract some of the best professionals, so the city itself is constantly changing to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse community. This is one of the reasons why I thought Vancouver provided a nice setting for the event, as Polycom’s channel is currently undergoing a major shift.

Historically, most people thought of Polycom as being a manufacturer of large hardware based video conferencing technology with a few voice products, like conference phones, sprinkled in. Given the perception that video is a flat or even a declining market, it was easy to assume that the company and its channel partners were in for a long, slow decline towards irrelevance.

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