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Tom Arbuthnot MCSM Communications

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Cisco to Acquire Acano, My Thoughts

Published 22/11/2015 - 7 Comments


Interesting collaboration news at the end of last week. Cisco announced it’s intent to acquire Acano.

Acano is a conferencing and collaboration MCU bridging and gateway solution that allows interop between various platforms, all joining the same collaboration meeting, most notably Lync/Skype for Business interop with Video endpoints like those from Cisco. It is deployable on prem and cloud. Founded in 2013, Acano is a privately held and headquartered in London, UK, with around 200 employees.

Interestingly Acano is the baby of CEO cofounder OJ “Odd Johnny” Winge, who was a key player at Tandberg which Cisco bought in 2009 for $3.3 billion. Upon close of acquisition the Acano team will report into Winge, who will be reporting into Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, led by SVP/GM Rowan Trollope.

So the big question for me is, have Cisco bought Acano to help support Skype for Business interop, or to slow it down/stop it. Radvision had an interesting Lync interop story, but that pretty much died with Avaya bought them. I’m hoping the same thing doesn’t happen here. Also, will Cisco try to tightly integrate this technology into it’s offerings, or run it as a kind of parallel unit like they did with Meraki Wireless. The latter approach seems to have been much more successful than the former.

Simon Leyland, a UC Expert with experience of Skype, Cisco and Acano presented some interesting thoughts and questions here.

This is probably greeted as good news for Polycom, the dominant and most “Microsoft blessed” player in Skype for Business interop and PexIP, who offer a similar interop solution, and also come from the ex Tandberg team.

I hope Cisco have bought Acano to open up their interop story, their UC&C story seems to be moving away from Jabber towards cloud based Spark, so maybe they are keen to pickup room based Video in Skype for Business customers, however I worry this might not be the case.

What are your thoughts?


Some relevant articles:

Why Cisco paid $700 million for this guy’s company after buying his last one for $3 billion

Cisco’s $700M Purchase Of Acano Heralds Tighter Integration With Microsoft, Partners Say

Cisco to Strengthen Collaboration Position with Acano Acquisition

Tom Arbuthnot

Tom Arbuthnot

Principal Solutions Architect at Modality Systems
Tom Arbuthnot is Principal Solutions Architect at Unified Communications specialist Modality Systems. He is a Microsoft Certified Master and MVP, blogger, regular on The UC Architects Podcast, and speaker at events including Microsoft TechEd and Ignite. He co-runs The Microsoft UC User Group London.


James Frost - 22/11/2015 Reply

My sentiments exactly. I work for a Microsoft UC and Acano partner, and have found the product to offer a compelling set of Lync/Skype for Business interop features, with some unique advantages over the competing Polycom and PexIP solutions. My biggest fear now is that Cisco are going to either smother the capability, or perhaps worse, somehow bundle it up with their wider product set in a way that makes it unpalatable for your usual Microsoft (non-Cisco) shops.

I would also add the company acted like a startup and were very happy to come to the party with incentives or pricing bundling… can’t imagine Cisco will be as inclined.

I’ve spoken to some of the local Acano guys, and understandably they’re very excited about the sale (their share options can now be realised after all)… but it does make you wonder if they reached a 700 million valuation in only two years of having a commercial product offering and less then 50 million in revenue last year, just how much bigger could they have gotten if allowed to run for a few more years?

soder - 23/11/2015 Reply

Played with their product, smelled like yet another “bricolage” software on the market, I felt like just the holy spirit keeps it from falling apart during production.

Graham Walsh - 23/11/2015 Reply

Interesting times on how Cisco will execute this integration. They have recently spent a lot of time trying to work out their bridging licensing and then this happens. The existing interop story with Lync/S4B is not good, this changes that a lot.

You make a good point Tom around whether they will try and stall adoption of Lync in enterprise clients and try to push them down the Jabber route?

Wainhouse reckon they valued it 18x sales value and that there was a bidding war going on too.

Interesting times for Polycom again as they may have a breathing space to gain market share, same as when Cisco acquired Tandberg going back a few years. Or will others look at cloud based solutions, just to keep away from Cisco?

What Cisco brings to Acano is call control which it lacked. On the other side, Acano is a great audio bridge, how will that affect the WebEx minutes from Cisco if clients want to bring it in house again to save costs?

RebelCaptain - 24/11/2015 Reply

Why don’t we talk about when Microsoft acquired Skype and closed down all the API’s so no third parties could continue to integrate with it?

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