Cius: All about giving control back to IT

If nothing else, Cisco officials wanted to drive home a point about the Cius tablet: It’s intended for business users, not consumers.

Early Cius adopters in health care, education and communications have deployed up to a few dozen of the 7-inch Cius tablets because they are intertwined with Cisco’s respected IT management, security and collaboration features.

Part of the way Cisco is extending management benefits to Cius is through AppHQ, which is a combination of an app store and tablet management and app development system. AppHQ can become a company’s app storefront to house the apps a business has approved for its workers. But AppHQ also extends controls to IT administrators over which applications can be downloaded by users.

Orlando Portale, CIO for Palmora Pomerado Health, said he has deployed the Cius to doctors to allow them to collaborate − sometimes with video − in secure ways not possible with other Android devices. “We have Android devices already and all are consumers, but [they] don’t run over the VPNs we need,” he said. “Cisco’s value-add…is to lock down” the devices.

Kara Wilson, vice-president of marketing for collaboration solutions at Cisco, made it clear what the Cius mission is all about. “Cius is about control,” she said. “Cius gives control back to IT.”

To establish that control, the $750 tablet will run on a company’s IP-PBX communications infrastructure that requires a secure wired LAN and secure Wi-Fi along with a PBX switch. The latest version of Cisco’s communication manager software, version 8.5, will be required as well. Even a docking station with a traditional telephone desk handset will cost $400 each, said Chuck Fontana, director of product management for Cisco Cius.

Cisco also said it will offer “basic” access to AppHQ management capabilities within the price of each Cius device, but then will charge an extra amount, undetermined, for higher level functions. Ken Dulaney, an analyst for Gartner, said the Cius tablet is “unique” among tablets because of all the Cisco-related communications functions.