Cisco study goes after Skype for its "proprietary standards"

Skype has hundreds of millions of users all over the world, and the popular VoIP service from Microsoft continues to gain traction in the business world. So, it's not exactly a shock to learn that Cisco, who has its own remote communications business, is trying to get people to see Skype, and its owners at Microsoft, in a bad light.

In a press release this week, Cisco said it commissioned a study from two economic professors, with the idea for them to look at the "economic potential of combined, video, data and voice systems that work together over the Internet". Cicso says that the results of the study show that such systems could have a positive impact on business ... if they use unified standards.

That's where the slam against Microsoft and Skype comes in. Cisco says that while its own TelePresence VoIP solution conforms to such standards, " ... Microsoft's Skype relies on proprietary standards, which hinders Skype's more than 600 million users from calling non-Skype users, and prevents businesses from reaching them via systems that offer services such as healthcare and job training by remote video."

This is not the first time that Cisco has been publicly critical of Skype. The company tried to protest Microsoft's acquisition of Skype to the European Union in February, after Microsoft bought Skype for $12.5 billion in October 2011. As it did in this week's press release, Cisco said it wanted the EU to ensure that Skype worked with more Internet standards.

Source: Cisco press release | Image via Microsoft

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I'd like to point out (even though this is a little late) that the Skype team played a key role in creating the Opus codec, which is now an open source audio standard. It's been shown to be the leader in audio quality from 12kbps-128kbps; even higher than MP3 and AAC.

The Linux version of Skype even runs pretty good. I was amazed that almost immediately after Microsoft bought it, they did a little bit of polishing on the Linux version and took it out of Beta, something the actual Skype devs failed to do for years. I may not like their operating system, but I give Microsoft kudos for that. Skype is pretty universal. It'd be nice for them to open the standards up so other people could call from outside Skype, but it's free, cross platform, and works good, not sure what the problem is.

Gerowen said,
The Linux version of Skype even runs pretty good. I was amazed that almost immediately after Microsoft bought it, they did a little bit of polishing on the Linux version and took it out of Beta, something the actual Skype devs failed to do for years. I may not like their operating system, but I give Microsoft kudos for that. Skype is pretty universal. It'd be nice for them to open the standards up so other people could call from outside Skype, but it's free, cross platform, and works good, not sure what the problem is.

The problem is they can't push their own stuff because:

a) It can't compete with Skype and
b) It can't talk Skype-talk

Hence they are losing money.

Gungel said,
Skype just announced a new service for businesses "Skype in the workspace" or SITW which offers LinkedIn integration. Wonder if that study released today has something to do with that?

https://workspace.skype.com/

No, because Skype can't compete at all. The only thing Microsoft has that can compete in Voice and collaboration is Lync - not Skype.

bidz said,

No, because Skype can't compete at all. The only thing Microsoft has that can compete in Voice and collaboration is Lync - not Skype.

Yeah, right. The most popular VoIP solution in the world - "can't compete at all". To begin with - compete with who, seriously?

Oh god, please turn off your reality distortion field, at least for a brief moment.

bviktor said,

Yeah, right. The most popular VoIP solution in the world - "can't compete at all". To begin with - compete with who, seriously?

Oh god, please turn off your reality distortion field, at least for a brief moment.

Like it or not Skype is the Apple of the VOIP world and by that I mean people want to use it in the Enterprise like people want to use an iPad. IT don't like Skype because of the security and network issues they believe endanger the Enterprise much like the security and IT guys don't like the iPad for much of the same reasons.

Skype was making changes to deal with these concerns and then MS bought them. So in that respect this is their biggest "in" to the Enterprise. MS has been rearchitecting the solution to integrate into Lync and deal with security. Will it work? I don't know, is it a risk to other VC and voice players in the Enterprise (i.e. Cisco) hell yes. Only time will tell if they supplant Cisco. I haven't seen any stories saying so but suspect Lync and Skype along with other vendors have a better chance of getting new customers and young start-ups than supplant current Cisco installations.

However there is a big collaboration and UC industry which started to threaten the established players and soon afterwards Cisco jumped on it bandwagon to try and convince people they knew what this was. This is more successful as it deals with all aspects of communication (email, IM, blogs, web platforms, voip, mobile telephony, vc etc.).

For example I believe Wells Fargo did a study that stated they were paying for voice three times (deskphone, mobile and softphone). They removed a huge percentage of their deskphones because studies showed a massive decline in desk phone usage as people typically call you on your mobile as there is a far greater chance of getting an answer.

Cisco doesn't have an answer in the mobile hand held telephony space that resonates with anyone so they have an issue there.

Cisco uses industry open standards for their TelePresence systems. Any SIP or H.323 compliant device can call a Cisco TelePresence system by using a SIP URI (user@email.com - and the URI can be the same as your email address for example). You don't need to register any place, you don't need to create a user anywhere, you don't need to build a contact list and add and approve users.... Cisco TelePresence systems basically enable you to use video communications between SIP and H.323 compliant devices just like mobile and landline phones do today (you can call any other phone brand, it doesn't matter)...

And in regards to Skype - Cisco has a very strong point... If you can't see that you seriously have no clue in regards to the SIP/H.323, UC, TelePresence business AT ALL. Skype is nice for home users but it is utter **** for companies, and it will be until it is opened or until it implements standards compliant protocols for communication between other devices and SIP / H.323 capable software clients.

bidz said,
Cisco uses industry open standards for their TelePresence systems. Any SIP or H.323 compliant device can call a Cisco TelePresence system by using a SIP URI (user@email.com - and the URI can be the same as your email address for example). You don't need to register any place, you don't need to create a user anywhere, you don't need to build a contact list and add and approve users.... Cisco TelePresence systems basically enable you to use video communications between SIP and H.323 compliant devices just like mobile and landline phones do today (you can call any other phone brand, it doesn't matter)...

And in regards to Skype - Cisco has a very strong point... If you can't see that you seriously have no clue in regards to the SIP/H.323, UC, TelePresence business AT ALL. Skype is nice for home users but it is utter **** for companies, and it will be until it is opened or until it implements standards compliant protocols for communication between other devices and SIP / H.323 capable software clients.


Preach it man.
I was surprised to see so little agreement on this around here.

GS:ios

Uh. It was a very nice intro about Cisco TelePresence (*place your ad here*), but may I ask, who dafuq cares? Go use it, be happy, and leave us alone. Not a single enterprise which I've worked with uses it. On the other hand, all of them uses Skype.

If you think it is obligatory for Microsoft to open its protocols, it only proves you have no clue about reality. AT ALL. It is not a requirement for ANY software in the world to have public interfaces/protocols. It's like saying MS should provide specs for all aspect of AD too, merely because it's more popular than other, mediocre solutions like FreeIPA. No, it's not the way things work.

Cisco is free to compete any way they like, but apparently they're failing. That's what hurts their butts so badly. Skype is big enough to rise nicely without Cisco or any other partner, that's their source of whining. Or are you for real thinking they're sooo concerned about YOUR freedom or something? Oh come on, grow up. To begin with, it's not true, but even if they were, they have no points. Skype doesn't restrict your freedom, you're not forced to use it. It's a free, voluntary solution with additional non-free premium services. Period.

Not to mention it's the typical case of double standards, since Cisco's also using proprietary protocols itself. So let me summarize this paper: Bullsh*t at its finest.

**** off with your open standards. I'm sick of these "open" idiots who start whining whenever something proprietary becomes huge. I never see these guys do anything except feel entitled to steal the hard work of companies who created a great product and built up a huge userbase and put in tons of money and hard work into it.

vcfan said,
**** off with your open standards. I'm sick of these "open" idiots who start whining whenever something proprietary becomes huge. I never see these guys do anything except feel entitled to steal the hard work of companies who created a great product and built up a huge userbase and put in tons of money and hard work into it.

Thank you for that, Mr Corporate Apologist. The GOP are proud to have your support.

vcfan said,
**** off with your open standards. I'm sick of these "open" idiots who start whining whenever something proprietary becomes huge. I never see these guys do anything except feel entitled to steal the hard work of companies who created a great product and built up a huge userbase and put in tons of money and hard work into it.

This has got to be one of the most ignorant comments posted ever on Neowin.
That's quite an achievement actually.

GS:mac

vcfan said,
**** off with your open standards. I'm sick of these "open" idiots who start whining whenever something proprietary becomes huge. I never see these guys do anything except feel entitled to steal the hard work of companies who created a great product and built up a huge userbase and put in tons of money and hard work into it.

Open standards has nothing to do with stealing anything or being entitled. Just FYI.

bviktor said,
Uh. It was a very nice intro about Cisco TelePresence (*place your ad here*), but may I ask, who dafuq cares? Go use it, be happy, and leave us alone. Not a single enterprise which I've worked with uses it. On the other hand, all of them uses Skype.

Then you haven't worked with big enterprises: All the major oil companies, HSBC globally, other banks, financial institutions, IT companies, etc.

Not one single serious and above SMB level company would ever base their business on Skype. I love Skype for what it is, but seriously. Even Lync comes waaay too short for serious video conferencing. Have you ever used (or even seen) a Cisco immersive CTS 3000 or T3 video conferencing room? Not everyone uses point-to-point video calls between computers, you know. And for many big corporations these systems are mission critical. Many companies even use these solutions for healthcare and for communication on oil rigs.

So sorry to burst your bubble, but you haven't worked with "enterprise" level customers if your customers uses Skype for their business.

bidz said,
Cisco uses industry open standards for their TelePresence systems. Any SIP or H.323 compliant device can call a Cisco TelePresence system by using a SIP URI (user@email.com - and the URI can be the same as your email address for example). You don't need to register any place, you don't need to create a user anywhere, you don't need to build a contact list and add and approve users.... Cisco TelePresence systems basically enable you to use video communications between SIP and H.323 compliant devices just like mobile and landline phones do today (you can call any other phone brand, it doesn't matter)...

And in regards to Skype - Cisco has a very strong point... If you can't see that you seriously have no clue in regards to the SIP/H.323, UC, TelePresence business AT ALL. Skype is nice for home users but it is utter **** for companies, and it will be until it is opened or until it implements standards compliant protocols for communication between other devices and SIP / H.323 capable software clients.

This is the biggest FUD of all time. Cisco's Telepresence Interoperability Protocol is proprietary as f*ck, it is even more closed than Skype's protocol. Microsoft actually cares about interoperability, Cisco doesn't. Just see the list of good guys at ucif.org (the likes of Juniper, Huawei, Intel et. al. are there, Cisco isn't).

bidz said,
Cisco uses industry open standards for their TelePresence systems. Any SIP or H.323 compliant device can call a Cisco TelePresence system by using a SIP URI (user@email.com - and the URI can be the same as your email address for example). You don't need to register any place, you don't need to create a user anywhere, you don't need to build a contact list and add and approve users.... Cisco TelePresence systems basically enable you to use video communications between SIP and H.323 compliant devices just like mobile and landline phones do today (you can call any other phone brand, it doesn't matter)...

And in regards to Skype - Cisco has a very strong point... If you can't see that you seriously have no clue in regards to the SIP/H.323, UC, TelePresence business AT ALL. Skype is nice for home users but it is utter **** for companies, and it will be until it is opened or until it implements standards compliant protocols for communication between other devices and SIP / H.323 capable software clients.

Spin that rubbish somewhere else man. I have gone through the end to end video conferencing solutions with Cisco and their add-ons into desktop VC which forklifts out any other solution so that all they use is the authentication directory and their lack of TRUE interoperability stinks. Yes they use H.323 but read up on how they implemented in before you spout this rubbish. Also look into H.323 AVC.

M_Lyons10 said,
Yeah, because there's nothing proprietary about Cisco's crap...

Wow did Cisco run over your dog or something?
Whether you like it or not your internet access is most likely traversing some Cisco hardware (among other vendors) and since they make up over 50% of the worlds routers iirc (I think it was higher actually) its not bad for a product that "when Cisco's stuff even works" to reference your other post in this news item.
From my experience people who don't like Cisco equipment simply don't like it because they don't know how to make it work correctly

Teebor said,

Wow did Cisco run over your dog or something?
Whether you like it or not your internet access is most likely traversing some Cisco hardware (among other vendors) and since they make up over 50% of the worlds routers iirc (I think it was higher actually) its not bad for a product that "when Cisco's stuff even works" to reference your other post in this news item.
From my experience people who don't like Cisco equipment simply don't like it because they don't know how to make it work correctly

So market share means a product is the best !? What codswallop. I know how to use Cisco gear and anytime you want to try and get that rubbish Cisco WAAS or more recently their UCCE contact centre platform you can call me. The first just didn't work very well, the second is an atrocious kludge of technologies that isn't even reliable, much less work the way it should. For millions of dollars UCCE should be miles better.

Cisco kit per port is more expensive than any other switched technology out there and the sooner people get off of their priorietary stack technology and realise switching in the main is a comoditised service that doesn't justify the high expense the better.

MS mess up and so do many other companies but I have never come across a company like Cisco where their answer to every problem is apply the latest patch and then deal with the bugs that this new patch introduces. They have no concept of backwards compatibility and expect everything in your network stack to be at the latest patch level. No flexibility and tons of cost.

600 million people is almost 1/10th of the entire population of the world. It's a free service. I'm failing to see the issue.

screw cisco. we use their webex in our company and it truly sucks. first of all you should have flash plugin and java virtual machine enabled. for some reason it only works in IE (at least for me) the sound has just ok quality but the quality of images is kinda bad. Its like really dated and dull system. I have heard from my friends in other companies that they use lync and its awesome. considering companies are turning away from webex and go with lync it must have been really tough for cisco. If I were them I would upgrade my systems and offer more modern solutions instead of wasting money like this.

Edited by trojan_market, Nov 8 2012, 6:07pm :

S3P€hR said,
screw cisco. we use their webex in our company and it truly sucks. first of all you should have flash plugin and java virtual machine enabled. for some reason it only works in IE (at least for me) the sound has just ok quality but the quality of images is kinda bad. Its like really dated and dull system. I have heard from my friends in other companies that they use lync and its awesome. considering companies are turning away from webex and go with lync it must have been really tough for cisco. If I were them I would upgrade my systems and offer more modern solutions instead of wasting money like this.

We use Lync and not only does it work, its integrated approach so that it works really well for users Cisco can only dream of and keep trying to show they can do the same (they can't). Overall the Cisco solution is more expensive, complex and not a good long term solution.

The most flexible approach is either Lync (office based or in the cloud) or Skype in my opinion.

Joshie said,
Having worked with Cisco solutions, this is roughly on par with Acer whining about competing hardware.

Agreed. And that's when Cisco's stuff even works!

Simon- said,

That's pretty rich coming from Cisco

Agree +1,000,0000

Cisco, is only commenting about Skype because they are the biggest threat to their own interests in Video and less to do about being standards based. Its a card Cisco always touts "standards, standards" but they almost NEVER adopt any without changing them and making them theirs (non standard).

They took over the corporate video conferencing market when they bought Tandberg in their battle against MS with it's OCS video conferencing solution. They were giving away their own VC systems at the time to get market share!

Then MS realised that Skype would invade the corporate market so they bought it and are integrating it into OCS. Cisco now doesn't really have any answer, so it's now down to a battle in this space with the cards these two companies have settled on.

Also lets also not forget that Facetime doesn't work with other systems either.