On March 15 - Cisco Announces Agreement to Acquire WebEx. It is interesting to watch what will happen after Cisco enters into this collaboration technology space.
WebEx started their business by providing the web conference, which is now integrated as a suite of collaboration applications, including web conference, instant messaging, VOIP, etc. These services are also integrated with those more traditional collaboration applications, called the "group ware", including email, calendar, document management, contact management, etc.
If I remember correctly, these vendors have been providing the group ware applications.
Oracle - Fusion Middleware
IBM - Lotus Notes Sametime
Novell - Groupwise
Microsoft - Outlook, Exchange, and iMeeting
They all started with the client /server desktop applications with the focus on the intranet application.
Later, we see the similar offerings from the web portal companies.
Yahoo - Email, Calendar, Group, Geocities (Free Web Page), Y! Messenger, etc.
Google - They challenge Yahoo! by providing all the same services - gmail, calendar, group with usenet support, gtalk, etc.
Google just announced their Google application on Feb 22, 2007. You can use your own domain to access these services: Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Docs & Spreadsheets, Page Creator and Start Page. As a paid user, you can get support from Google and you can integration these services with your SSO.
Many people also use Skype's web meeting feature for international meetings.
Although the services are all integrated and can be available from a single vendor. We are still using them separately.
I mainly use Oracle calendar and almost not use Google or Yahoo calendar. I use Oracle email with the thunderbird client at work and use both gmail and Yahoo! email. I use AIM and Yahoo at work and use gtalk with my family. I also now use Oracle Messenger more often since I do not need to worry about getting my cowork's AIM nickname. I have never used WebEx but use Oracle Web Conference almost everyday. I use Skype once a while since some professional group I participated using the Skype for the weekly meeting. I also use Yahoo! Messenger to talk with people in China since the other services are just not as popular there. Yahoo! Messenger is also the only service I use to watch my daughter's webcam when she is with her grandparent.
Yahoo! Brief Case, Geocities, and Google's Page Creator cannot help me to share files with people outside my intranet. They have size limitation. I found that I can use my AIM account to use the Xdrive, a service provided by America Online.
Since each of them provides some unique features or has different strength, even many of these vendors can provide a one stop shopping, I use multiple of them.
It is interesting to watch what will happen in the next few years.
Will Cisco make the web conference more like a telephone service, which is operated by the local phone companies to almost everyone?