While Cisco and Microsoft enjoy a close working relationship on a few fronts, it's clear that they both want to control the enterprise communications space, and their visions do not seem to allow for more than one of them to do that. Regardless, $3.2 billion is a lot of money, especially for a company that only does about 1/10th of that in sales. Of course, Cisco spent a lot more to acquire Scientific Atlanta, so we may not have seen the biggest deal yet.
It's hard to tell where this is all going or when it all ends. Both companies have money to burn, and at this stage of the game, time to market is everything, and it's simply more expedient to buy rather than build. Of course, there's the ongoing challenge of integrating these companies once acquired, and figuring out the details about branding, channels, R&D, staff retention, etc. However, this is the price you pay to get what you need, and perhaps more importantly, to keep it out of the hands of your competitors.
There won't be any shortage of media coverage today about this, although I'm surprised at how little blog coverage there has been so far.
Rather than re-hash the details, I'll steer you to Business Week Online. Their feature is out already, and it provides a good overview of Cisco's deal and the overall context for what's driving this. They were also nice enough to cite me, so I'm more than happy to share this with you.
Technorati tags: Cisco, Jon Arnold, Microsoft, J Arnold & Associates, Business Week