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Cisco launching series of new collaboration tools

Cisco's Quad, Prosumer Video, and WebEx Connect products are designed to let workers remotely connect and collaborate with their colleagues.

Cisco is debuting a trio of new and enhanced products that it believes will help people better collaborate and share content with each other, as more companies go virtual and more employees work remotely.

Announced on Friday, the company's new Quad, Prosumer Video, and updated WebEx Connect IM products each serve a specific niche, allowing business users to find and connect with the right people and share information within their organizations, said Cisco.

Cisco''s Quad collaboration tool
Cisco''s Quad collaboration tool Cisco

Cisco Quad is an enterprise collaboration tool that offers voice, video, and social networking in one application. Through Quad, people will be able to search their organizations for content and find colleagues with specific expertise, according to Cisco.

Users will be able to access their Quad workspaces through a PC or through an Apple iPhone or iPad. Cisco said it will release mobile apps for people who work on the go but need to stay connected with their colleagues.

Quad will also let people search for files within their current content and document management systems, such as Microsoft SharePoint and Documentum, said Cisco.

Following a series of early trials, Cisco said it will introduce Quad on a limited basis in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand between August and October 2010, which is the company's first quarter of fiscal 2011.

Cisco's Prosumer camcorder.
Cisco's Prosumer camcorder Cisco

Cisco's Prosumer Video is designed for business users who need to store and manage video content, according to Cisco. The product includes an online video workspace called FocalPoint and a business-grade camcorder named MinoPro. FocalPoint will allow corporate teams to share and view the same videos, while MinoPro's integrated software will let them edit and store the videos on their own PCs before uploading them to FocalPoint, Cisco said.

The Prosumer video package will be available through channel partners starting in August, according to Cisco.

Finally, Cisco is unveiling WebEx Connect IM 6.5, the latest version of its enterprise instant-messaging tool. The new edition will let users access their contact lists and send instant messages through a browser-based IM program. That ability will give workers the flexibility to use the product on any PC without the need to install local software, said Cisco.

"Cisco's vision for a new workspace is about empowering organizations with a broader range of collaborative experiences," Tony Bates, Cisco senior vice president and general manager, enterprise, commercial and small business, said in a statement. "Not only is it seamless and integrated, but it also gives people and teams the power to choose what combination of content, media, and devices will make them most productive."

Cisco said it will demo all three products on Tuesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

Seeing a growing demand for collaboration tools, Cisco has been aggressively pursuing this market over the past few years. In 2007 the company paid $3.2 billion for WebEx to grab WebEx's collaboration products and customer base.

Last May, Cisco unveiled a new initiative called Collaboration in Motion to integrate different collaboration tools for remote workers. And in October, the company went on a bidding spree to acquire video-conferencing firm Tandberg before finally completing the offer in April for $3.3 billion.

Correction, 11:00 a.m. PDT on Tuesday: This story initially gave an incorrect date for Quad's availability. Cisco plans to introduce Quad between August and October of this year.