Cisco to acquire conferencing vendor

Cisco Systems Inc. will bolster its multimedia networking portfolio with audioconferencing, videoconferencing and Web-based collaboration tools through the acquisition of Latitude Communications Inc., the company announced recently.

Cisco agreed to pay approximately US$80 million cash for all the outstanding shares of publicly held Latitude – an enterprise conferencing company with headquarters near Cisco in San Jose – said Don Proctor, vice-president and general manager of Cisco’s Voice Technology Group.

Latitude’s MeetingPlace product, which consists of conferencing software that runs on Latitude appliances and on client systems, will become part of Cisco’s IP Communications product portfolio, Proctor said. That collection of hardware and software products is designed for the convergence of data, video and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) communications across a single IP network.

Latitude’s software already can be closely integrated with Cisco’s IP phones and CallManager software for IP call control, Proctor said. It also has been integrated with enterprise applications such as Microsoft Corp.’s Outlook and IBM Corp.’s Lotus Notes and Sametime.

That means an enterprise employee could schedule an audioconference through Outlook and MeetingPlace would reserve the network resources to make that audioconference happen at the scheduled time, Proctor said. The user also could schedule, manage and attend meetings using the display on a Cisco IP phone.

In addition, MeetingPlace works as a standalone system with its own user interface, he added.

The deal is expected to close in Cisco’s fiscal second quarter, which ends in January. Latitude, which has 183 employees, will become part of Cisco’s Voice Technology Group and move its operations to Cisco offices. Cisco will convert outstanding Latitude options to Cisco options. How many employees will move over to Cisco has not yet been determined, Proctor said.

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