In November 2009 Cisco Mail was introduced to the world, but yesterday Cisco announced that they were abandoning this hosted mail service.   It should come as no surprise that we have been watching the coverage with some interest and have some thoughts of our own to share.

The Wall Street Journal, in Cisco Pulls Plug on Web Email, suggests that they had trouble gaining traction and differentiating against the market leaders.  IDG News, Cisco Kills off Its Hosted E-mail Product, cites Matt Cain, a leading email analyst with Gartner, who gives a word of caution that “Before committing to any cloud e-mail platform, companies ought to validate its success and momentum.”

ZDNet also notes Cisco’s lack of traction against market leaders in Cisco nixes hosted email: Where does email fit in the collaboration mix?  In the piece, Larry Dignan states email is the price of admission in collaboration.  No Jitter takes this question a step further in Cisco Giving up on Email by asking “Does the company that owns the email own the communications platform and user?”

Cisco says their customers just weren’t interested in commoditized email.  And it’s hard to disagree with that.  If your email provider is approaching their application as a commoditized tool without any differentiation, then maybe you need to turn to a provider who understands that email is the core of business communications with the ability to significantly enhance productivity.  On the Exchange team it is our mission to delight our customers every day. Whether it is the latest archiving features in Exchange Server 2010, Mail Tips to Outlook and Outlook Web App users, a rich mobile experience on any smartphone, integration with Lync Server around instant messaging, presence, and voice, or integration with SharePoint enabling people to display multiple Exchange and SharePoint calendars together.  We view email as the gateway to business collaboration and enhanced productivity and we have been investing for the past 15 years to help our customers realize those benefits.

Along these lines, email is considered mission critical by most organizations, so our long term commitment is essential for our customers. We have been in the business of email for a long time and we are in it to stay.   As Matt Cain questions in eWeek’s Cisco Kills Hosted E-Mail Service 13 Months After Launch, “If Cisco is pulling the plug in such an extensive effort, what reassurances do potential customers have that the same fate does not await other products?"  Meanwhile, Microsoft is doubling down on email and collaboration tools, delivering Exchange, Lync, and SharePoint via on-premise servers and as an online service with Office 365.

For those of you who were using Cisco Mail and are now without email, give us a call.  Or check out the Microsoft Online Services offering

Julia White

Senior Director, Exchange Product Management