Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cisco to Acquire Tandberg

Cisco announced today that they will acquire Tandberg, and this will have significant impact on the video communications market. It will reduce competition, and limit customers’ choices, especially in the telepresence space. It will, hurt Radvision who now fills the gap in Cisco’s video infrastructure portfolio.

I am however more concerned about the standards-compliance that have been the pillar of the video communication industry for years. Tandberg and Polycom worked together in international standardization bodies such as ITU-T and in industry consortiums such as IMTC to define standard mechanisms for video systems to communicate.

Cisco on the other hand is less interested in standards, and considers proprietary extensions as a way to gain competitive advantage. The concern of the video communication industry right now should be that the combined company will be so heavily dominated by Cisco that standards will become last priority, far after integrating Tandberg products with Cisco Call Manager and WebEx.

Telling is the fact that both Tandberg and Cisco declined participating in interoperability events over the last few months.


  1. above comment by Stefan Karapetkov... Director at Polycom

  2. Your probably right. It will also represent chaos at Cisco for quite some time. The overlap in product lines is big, rationalizing what gets kept and what gets abandoned, will leave customers in the lurch. Would expect Tandberg employees to jettison to other startups in this segment as they find the Cisco maze 'unappealing'

  3. I can recall the troubles Cisco had integrating Scientific Atlanta. I have a dejavu, like watching the same movie again.

  4. This will bring a world class video product portfolio in many area and inter-working with many vendors based on SIP standards.

  5. This is just huge. One stop shop for all Video related Customer needs. Must be exciting for Customers as well as now they can make the most out of their investment getting a better, feature rich End-to-End Solution ..

    It will definitely bring down RadVision and other competitiors business.

    BTW, not sure what standards the author of this post is talking about..Cisco, AFAIK, is all about standards and don't invent unless it needs to be.....

  6. Pot calling Kettle. Polycom, the company responsible for the proprietary Siren codecs, proprietary H.26L video codec, People and Content and numerous other proprietary methods of trying to secure competitive advantage.

    Excuse me if I don't take your word for it.

  7. Obviously there's a little bias in the original post (ET Director of Polycom... would expect some competitive concern). It's very common that when someone is trying to pitch against Cisco, they usually have to pull out the 'proprietary' card. Sure, there are proprietary extensions, but for a majority of them, they are for customers who have asked for such features and Cisco has listened to them and delivered.... and in time, some of these eventually become part of the open standards we see today. Plus, Cisco does support open standards.

  8. Microsoft roundtable CX5000, Microsoft phones CX100-CX700 Hey, do they speak SIP? Isnt SIP a standard

  9. Hi Stefan,
    new try. I was expecting this transaction since 2-3 years.
    Tandberg will become more propriatory again, probably having two major impacts:
    1) Commercial customers will be led back to expensive IP providers instead of using TAAs VCS / Expressway firewall traversal products into the open internet.
    2) Network costs have never been a concern of users in research. BUT we will not get comparable discounts as in the past, due to the strong position in the new VC situation.
    So good luck Stefan, Polycom will be back in the noncommercial market.
    See you in Munich I hope.
    Ulli Schwenn

  10. I understand what Stephan is saying and I completely agree with him. Cisco can afford to pick and choose what standards live and die because they will, or will not implement them.

    Cisco is also huge. They move slowly compared to the rest of the industry. Tandberg and Polycom are much more flexible. Usually this means Cisco is 1-3 years behind the game. However their game is good when it is delivered.

    Given that I think we will see creativity at Tandberg stifled for 1-3 years as Cisco wraps it head aroung the 323 market. That should give Polycom, and others, a chance to develop a real management solution and compete with solution (VoIP and Video) Cisco will offer going forward. (I can only hope!)

    The positives. I look forward to have TAC, the absolute, bar none, best support I have ever had. No one, not even Polycom's elite service has come close yet. I also look forward to more open information on "How things work." You dig deep enough on and you can get extremely detailed information about their equipment, far more than you can get from Tandberg and Polycom.

  11. Why would Cisco remove the standards compliancy of TANDBERG when that is why Cisco is buying TANDBERG? Cisco tried proprietary and the market spoke - they are paying $3B for that strategic error. This argument is flawed.

  12. I have worked a number of 3rd party video SD/HD endpoints over the years. Polycom endpoints resist negotiating desired video capabilities. No matter what configuration is performed. FRUSTRATING. Only when its talking to its own platforms does it perform optimal audio/video. This is a close system in my opinion.