Cisco Systems Inc. has completed its acquisition of WebEx Communications Inc., entering the online collaboration services business through a US$3.2 billion deal.

Cisco will maintain WebEx’s current business model of selling subscriptions for a Web-based service to enterprises that don’t want to buy or build a collaboration system of their own, especially small and medium-size organizations.

The acquisition, announced March 15, further extends a networking equipment giant that is increasingly positioning itself as a software and services company. It followed buyouts of two social-networking companies, Five Across Inc. and Utah Street Networks Inc., and all the technologies will complement each other, chief development officer Charles Giancarlo said in March.

The buyout will help Cisco compete against Microsoft Corp. and other vendors in collaboration and communication, and enhance Cisco’s Unified Communications portfolio, according to Giancarlo.

WebEx also offers a suite of productivity applications under the WebOffice brand.

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