Cisco, WebEx, Qwaq, Ning, etc {*Update 2*}

I was doing a bit of research into the state of today’s PLM (product lifecycle management) offerings and while there’s not been the kind of progress I’d hoped, there’s definitely a trend… toward services for small businesses. Among the services/applications, there’s UGS’s TeamCenter Community and PTC’s “PLM on Demand“. While not exactly “PLM”, the newly-announced Croquet-based Qwaq certainly provides some of those collaborative capabilities… in a three-dimensionally immersive, avatar-centric “virtual workplace”. And on the other end of the spectrum from Qwaq are services like WebEx which provide on-demand collaboration through more traditional means: voice, video, aso.

Well, as I’m researching all this stuff I see news popping up that Cisco has issued a press release (Link) announcing they’ve just purchased WebEx for about $3.2B. With Cisco buying social networking applications and business collaboration companies, one has to wonder if the Internet’s routing giant is thinking along the lines I’d earlier ascribed to Microsoft (reLink). Imagine if Cisco were to use Croquet to build out WebEx and then use the principles behind social networking applications like Ning to offer a kind of 3D world without boundaries; something more like the island-to-island system I thought Doppelganger could build using their brand-targeted spaces. Every user becomes an “island”. Or, to make it easier to visualize, every user creates their own “world” as in the upcoming videogame “Spore”; and Cisco is a galaxy… or maybe the networked universe.

And maybe Cisco just acquires Qwaq.

{Quick note: I just watched a demo for TeamCenter Express over on YouTube. I can’t embed it so you’ll have to go see it (Link). I’ve got one word for that interface – criminal. One look at that and it’s not hard to imagine how much easier it would be to organize everything using something immersive. Imagine a combination of Kaneva with Bumptop.}

{Update: I just read a post on the “baack to the future” blog (Link) that includes a link to a piece on (Link) that said much the same thing I said above, only two days ago… before Cisco bought WebEx. Guess I need to be visiting that website. I’ve been pwn’d.}

{Update 2: There have been a few “Why Cisco Bought WebEx” pieces on the net. All interesting. But O’Reilly’s is the first to mention Groove in his piece (Link). If you check that old post on Microsoft I mentioned above, you’ll see Groove mentioned front and center. The reason I think all this will extend beyond Cisco and Microsoft is because other players start to get drawn into the whole converging mess. Google won’t sit around; not when they’ve got the makings of a usable virtual world and productivity software. Oracle and SAP and other big enterprise companies won’t sit around because they know this could become a threat to their business models. I’m not sure the responses will come quickly though. Croquet is a game changer. I’m not sure the old guard is ready to deal with what it could do to the computing landscape. Then again, I’m no expert. So let’s just watch and see.}

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