Apple & Cisco: A Match Made in Heaven?

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In a move to rival all power moves, Cisco and Apple have joined forces to bring Cisco’s enterprise level Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) solutions to the consumer electronics world where Apple rules the roost. Just as summer ends, Cisco and Apple seem to have quietly announced a new partnership that involves Cisco’s network capability and Apple’s iOS devices and apps, and it couldn’t have come sooner.

According to the Good Technology Mobility Index Report, the majority of mobile and tablet devices being used in the enterprise happen to be iPhones and iPads, respectively, but perhaps until now, the applications have been disparate and more than likely the bane of an IT department’s existence. Someone somewhere had to realize the level of attachment employees have to these specific devices, with the number of new activations growing each quarter, and as the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.

The cool simplicity of Apple and their beloved iOS coupled with the vast and powerful networking of Cisco could mean more innovative, seamless, and streamlined ways users will interact with technology across the business environment. As the world prepares for the Internet of Things (IoT) we have to think about the way Apple already delivers digital mobility with iPhone, iPad, and now, Apple Watch. As for mere preference and ease of use, it could mean the undoing of some of Cisco’s enterprise favorites, such as Jabber, but the pumped up delivery of Cisco applications like WebEx. When you have apps that are as highly thought of as Apple’s, with cross-platform integration, or that any app could be opened to any endpoint as needed; well, change is going to come. If it comes down to a competition, be it performance or merely popularity, it must be a risk Cisco is willing to take.

The high performance mobile experience tied to the iPhone is one of the reasons users are so loyal and why it commands more enterprise market share than other mobile phone manufacturers. The Apple computer (running on Mac OS X) has long been thought of as the safer, more secure choice for personal computing systems; impervious to most malware and viruses. In the world of UC, the problem with mobility has often been the issue of security, so the idea that a powerful enterprise platform like Cisco’s collaboration network products for voice, video, and IM/Presence through Cisco Jabber could be integrated with the best features of iOS, also sparks the imagination. The robust UC&C environment offered by Cisco is one way to bring control back to the IT department and still celebrate that loyalty to the Apple devices.

For now though your guess is as good as ours as to what the two giants have in store. The statement about the collaboration is somewhat vague and leaves room for interpretation. The press release offers a quote from Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers, that partially reads, “Through this engineering and go-to-market partnership, we’re offering our joint customers the ability to seamlessly extend that awesome Cisco environment to their favorite iOS devices.” But as we know in the world of tech, that could mean so many, hopefully wonderful, things.

You can read more about the collaboration here on Cisco’s blog.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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