Networking titan Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) has slapped a dollar value on its burgeoning portfolio of net-based collaboration tools -- and it's a biggie.

Using "the network as the platform" -- in an eerie echo of Sun's (NASDAQ:JAVA) old "the network is the computer" slogan -- Cisco's business-communications offerings include a spate of recent acquisitions like WebEx and Jabber alongside in-house developments such as TelePresence teleconferencing and Unified Communications servers. Together, they target a $34 billion annual revenue opportunity, as businesses everywhere start to expect advanced collaboration tools to be available everywhere a businessperson might go.

Since Cisco likes to work with open architectures and standards, most of these tools run on a variety of platforms, including Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows PCs and Windows Mobile gadgets, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Macs, and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) popular line of BlackBerry smartphones. All of these vendors are also competitors in this multibillion-dollar market, and Cisco will have its work cut out for it to establish a foothold amongst all the incumbents with plenty of power over the hardware and software involved.

The well-respected Cisco brand name could help convince some customers to adopt its products, and the company already has sales and support relationships with thousands of the world's biggest and most data-hungry corporations.

Cisco doesn't even bother to break out the collaboration portfolio as a reportable business segment yet, and main rival Microsoft rolls it into the $18.9 billion annual revenue of the business division, which also includes much bigger contemporary fish like Office and Exchange. The growth story in this market has hardly even begun yet, and even a modest market share would give Cisco a welcome boost to its current $39.5 billion in annual sales. The economies of scale and generous profit margins that will turn that extra revenue into boosted cash flows and profits are already in place.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolish disclosure believes the network is, uh, the network.