Macromedia, Cisco Push Telecom Apps

With the telephony and IT worlds rapidly collapsing into one thing, the Web-development software titan Macromedia Inc. (Nasdaq: MACR) has partnered with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) on a Web conferencing platform.

San Francisco-based Macromedia is announcing at the Voice On the Net (VON) Coalition show today (Tuesday) it has licensed its Flash-based Breeze Web conferencing technology to Cisco for use in a new suite of business applications aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.

In addition to putting Macromedia in the telecom market for the first time, the partnership represents Cisco's biggest move into applications so far. Both Cisco and Macromedia will now be going head-to-head with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), WebEx Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WEBX), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

The new Cisco product suite, called the “Business Communications Solution for Mid-Market Companies,” is a set of IP communications applications based around Cisco’s popular CallManager softswitch product (see Airbus Uses Equant, Cisco for VOIP).

Specifically, Macromedia’s slick conferencing UI is used in Cisco’s MeetingPlace Express, a browser-based version of its somewhat higher-end conferencing product, MeetingPlace (see LR Poll: Cisco Likely to Make VOIP Buy). Macromedia general manager Tom Hale called Light Reading Monday and quickly initiated a Breeze-based conference to demonstrate what Cisco is getting. After opening a browser window and logging in, the conference page opens. The application's central pane is used for a slideshow presentation, while smaller panes are placed at the left for participant status and IM functionality. Hale soon opened yet another pane for live video from his office in San Francisco, then began using an arrow to point out various parts of the presentation. To demonstrate the application’s integration with the Cisco softswitch, Hale dialed a cell phone, which rang then played a recorded invitation to join the online conference. The feature will be more commonly used to dial Cisco IP phones in an enterprise's network.

Cisco chose Macromedia mainly for its popular user interface, and because Macromedia Flash is already installed on 98 percent of all PCs, according to the companies.

Macromedia's Hale says Cisco’s new suite should be attractive to mid-sized businesses because its applications are all IP-based. “They don’t want to pay a provider for the services because there is a markup, and every enterprise has an IP network.” Hale also points out that the Breeze Web conferencing application is friendly with machines running practically any type of operating system.

Macromedia earlier announced the integration of its Flash development platform with the Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) service delivery platform (SDP) for use by service providers developing next-generation converged applications and services (see HP Takes Flash Approach to SDPs).

Macromedia also has a deal with VOIP business application provider Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV). “We built a connector to Avaya and we sell the product together," Hale says.

Cisco’s new mid-sized business suite includes Mobile Connect, which creates a single IP phone number for a variety of handset types, and Unity Connection, a Web browser-based voice-messaging system.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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