Inside a Cisco Systems office. Today, Cisco Systems acquired Broadsoft to boost its cloud communications and collaboration play.
Today, Cisco Systems acquired Broadsoft to boost its cloud communications and collaboration play. PHOTO: Sabine Lobmeier

Cisco has now topped the $6 billion mark in acquisitions this year with its latest buy — $1.9 billion for cloud communications and collaboration provider BroadSoft.

Cisco officials announced the deal this morning, which they said combines cloud-based unified communications, collaboration and contact center software solutions. 

It marks the fifth acquisition this year for the San Jose, Calif.-based company (200th overall), following AppDynamics (application performance management, $3.7 billion), Observable Networks (cloud security, fee undisclosed), Viptela (application performance management, $610 million) and Perspica (machine learning, fee undisclosed). 

A Cisco-BroadSoft Collaboration Play

Why BroadSoft

BroadSoft, which had nearly 1,600 employees as of Dec. 31, 2016, offers team collaboration in the form of its TeamOne collaboration tool. It also offers standards-based cloud voice and contact center solutions delivered via service provider partners.

Where will BroadSoft fit in Cisco's portfolio? The move could align with 72,900-employee Cisco's "universal federation" collaboration approach it pushed earlier this year: promoting Cisco Spark's ability to allow workers to communicate with "anyone else, anywhere in the world." Or it could play a part in the network hardware services company's continuous journey to provide cloud services.

"It will be interesting to see the positioning of BroadSoft TeamOne versus Cisco Spark," Constellation Research collaboration analyst Alan Lepofsky told CMSWire this morning. "Will they be aimed at different audience segments, or combined? How will the partner ecosystem be handled, as TeamOne is sold through BroadSoft's channel? It should be an interesting day."

Rowan Trollope, Cisco senior vice president and general manager of its applications group, said in a conference call this morning Cisco envisions leveraging the BroadSoft offering with its WebEx platform.

Cisco's Path to Cloud in Overdrive

BroadSoft bought cloud contact center provider Transera in 2016 to complement its unified communications suite. 

And now, Cisco's acquisition of BroadSoft "accelerates the path to the cloud" for the legacy networking hardware company, according to Forrester analyst Art Schoeller.

"It is a move to accelerate the path to cloud versus Cisco’s own organic development," Schoeller told CMSWire. "Spark Care (cloud customer care) and Spark Calling (cloud-based calling) were the beginnings of Cisco building their own fully (Software-as-a-Service) offerings in both spaces, which now at this point are really in doubt as to whether or not these efforts go forward at all. I suspect that the Spark Team messaging app will survive though and get integrated into the BroadSoft portfolio."

In a conference call this morning, Cisco's Rob Salvagno, vice president of corporate development, said mergers and acquisitions are a core part of the company's strategy in collaboration. 

He cited acquisitions in artificial intelligence (including its most Perspica buy last week) and called the BroadSoft acquisition an, "opportunity to move from a cloud perspective."