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Combining Rich-Media Conferencing with Cisco's Leading IP Communications Portfolio

Cisco VP Don Proctor talks about how the integration of Latitude Communication's rich-media conferencing.

Cisco Systems has announced that it will acquire the publicly-held Latitude Communications, Inc. of Santa Clara California. Latitude is the leading provider of enterprise conferencing products with its MeetingPlace audio and web conferencing solution.

The acquisition will boosts the company's IP communications portfolio by adding rich-media conferencing, which combines voice, video and web conferencing, to Cisco's Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) product portfolio.

Don Proctor, VP/GM of the Voice Technology Group recently explained how this acquisition will further the integration of rich-media conferencing, instant messaging, IP phones, and the desktop environment to help enable more efficient and effective business communications.

How does the acquisition of Latitude relate to Cisco's overall technology strategy?

Don Proctor: By adding rich media conferencing capabilities to the Cisco portfolio of Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) voice solutions we will provide significant productivity benefits for our customers.

This acquisition will enable Cisco to deliver intelligent multimedia communications solutions which combine dynamic network information—such as presence and location information about network users—with organizational policy and personal preference to improve workplace productivity. Basing these solutions on industry standards, such as SIP, H.323 and XML ensures solutions that seamlessly integrate voice and video conferencing, as well as emerging technologies such as instant messaging and data collaboration.

Why did Cisco choose Latitude?

Don Proctor: The IP Communications market is in transition. Business customers are shifting from "off-network" services to "on-network" solutions behind the firewall for greater security and significant cost-savings. As use of "on-network" conferencing grows, enterprises are looking to combine voice, video and data on the converged IP network. Rich-media conferencing provides that experience, cost-effectively and securely.

A strong conferencing component has always been part of Cisco's strategy. The acquisition of Latitude allows us to accelerate that strategy with a multi-modal application that clearly demonstrates the value of IP versus traditional TDM solutions. Beyond that, Latitude's superior technology, track record of innovation and cultural values make it a good fit for Cisco.

How will the acquisition of Latitude complement Cisco's existing IP Communications strategy?

Don Proctor: The combination of Cisco's leadership in IP Communications, and Latitude's rich-media conferencing leadership will allow Cisco to drive innovative business communications solutions and help enable productivity through the convergence of voice, data and video. Adding Latitude to Cisco's portfolio builds on our commitment to open standards and introduces innovations in presence-enabled communications that leverage the dynamic location and service intelligence of the network. Presence (are you there) and location (where are you) will be combined with user preference and policy to enable new business communications services that are integrated with the IP network for quality of service (QoS), security and availability.

By adding advanced rich media conferencing capabilities to our existing portfolio of AVVID voice platforms, Cisco will offer the industry's most comprehensive IP communications system, including IP PBXs, IP Phones (desktop, wireless, and softphones), IP Customer Contact, Unified Messaging and comprehensive security solutions, as well as world-class service and support.

How will customers benefit from Cisco's acquisition of Latitude?

Don Proctor: By integrating with Microsoft Outlook, IBM/Lotus Notes, and IBM/Lotus Sametime, the MeetingPlace solution will provide Cisco customers a seamless interface for scheduling multimedia conferences, while moving seamlessly between audio, video, instant messaging and file sharing through an integrated user interface. Latitude MeetingPlace also offers significant integration with Cisco CallManager, enabling users to schedule and attend meetings using the display on Cisco IP Phones, adding new capabilities to the more than 2.3 million Cisco IP phones sold to date.

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