WebEx: What Cisco gets from acquisition

WebEx: What Cisco gets from acquisition

President of WebEx products and operations discusses last week's Cisco acquisition

From a technical perspective what are the defining characteristics that let you build and maintain your huge lead over Web conferencing competitors?

To do that it really does come down to technology. What has given us the edge here is that we made an investment in the technology realizing that the standard public Internet was not sophisticated enough to handle the real-time demands of a truly global integrated real-time service where you had to provide real-time voice, audio, data. It's a lot different from serving up static page views like Google to actually conducting a session where you can have thousands of people sharing audio and video in real time. If you are in a meeting and you have a two-second delay in the audio, forget it, that meeting is over. Those are the challenges that have made it difficult for competition to get into this market and are why WebEx has enjoyed such a lead.

What do you bring to the table in terms of infrastructure to support software-as-a-service, such as your MediaTone platform?

Our MediaTone is quite a technological marvel. We have invested about US$180 million in it. It has delivered the rocketship kind of reliability that really is required if you are going to have businesses that depend on your service.

How does MediaTone work?

It is a complicated set of servers. It has the multimedia servers that are sharing the application interfacing with audio servers and audio switches. And the whole thing is broken into pre-meeting and post-meeting experience, where you are dealing with the Web, and then in client, which is running on the desktop. It is Linux-based, somewhere around 4,000 to 5,000 servers, very scalable, very efficient.

Why did you decide to sell at this time when you guys are clearly at the height of your game?

We certainly weren't looking to be bought. But if we are going to be bought, I can't think of a better company out there to link up with.

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