What are the Cisco’s Different Web Conferencing & Collaboration Solutions?

What are the Cisco’s Different Web Conferencing & Collaboration Solutions?

From a web conferencing and PCS perspective, Cisco’s offerings are as follow Cisco is well into a transition that is not only refreshing its conferencing and collaboration offerings, but also making them work together, going in some new directions, and (gasp) is transforming Cisco into being hip and relevant again. Here is the list of All  Cisco’s offerings.

Cisco Jabber The company’s “traditional” presence and IM platform, Jabber is for initiating quick, real-time communications. It's "where you live" – contacts log in and their presence status is reflected on a contacts list. Jabber supports text chat, audio / video calls & conferences, voice messaging, and simple screen sharing.

Jabber clients are available for mobile devices and PCs, and it integrates with Cisco Unified Call Manager (CUCM) to interoperate with Cisco phones..

Cisco Jabber

Cisco WebEx (CMR added May 2016), the company’s cornerstone web conferencing offering and a focus of this profile. Acquired in 2007, the offering has been continuously enhanced to be competitive and to integrate with the Cisco product line.

CMRs, introduced as an optional feature in May 2014 that became standard in May 2016, creates an individual “virtual office” that can be accessed at any time using a personal meeting room URL.

Participants can join a CMR meeting using a WebEx or Jabber client, a Cisco video or telepresence system, a third-party video conferencing system, or a Microsoft Skype for Business (SfB) client. Whereas WebEx is the undisputed market leader in its hosted service, an on-premises WebEx server (CWMS) was introduced in 2012.

Cisco Webex Meeting

Cisco WebEx Meetings Server Since its introduction, WebEx focused on being deployed as a hosted service, and selling the benefits of a SaaS model. However, for those customers who either prefer or are required to deploy web conferencing exclusively on-premises, Cisco announced the Cisco WebEx Meetings Server (CWMS), a stand-alone, on-premises solution for hosting WebEx meetings, in 2012.

Implemented as a virtualized software solution under VMware 5.x, the offering features HD video conferencing, SIP / VoIP-based audio conferencing, and the real-time web conferencing features found in WebEx Meeting Center meetings, including support for participants using a PC, Mac, or iPhone / iPad / Android device.

WR notes that the CWMS software was “forked” from WebEx Meeting Center version T27 and is not intended to deliver the WebEx Event Center or Training Center specialized applications. Also of note is that CWMS must be deployed along with a Cisco CUCM server to manage call control for participants that want to use a phone to connect to the WebEx audio conference.

Cisco Spark Messaging & Meetings (introduced March 2015, repackaged March 2016) It is a business messaging service with persistent virtual team rooms – “a place for teams to work together, where their work can live, and a way to stay connected to it all.”

Spark Messaging supports group / project-centric text chat, content sharing / viewing, search, presence, and realtime workflow notifications, and maintains a message history that syncs across all of a user’s devices.

Spark Meetings adds audio / video calls with screen sharing and tight integration with Cisco phones and video conferencing systems. WebEx Meeting Center (with CMR) is included with some plans as an option.

Cisco Spark has been integrated with Box for file sharing; an aggressive developer program with open API’s is expected to result in more integrations to facilitate interworking with the workflow apps people already use.

Cisco Collaboration Cloud While not a product offering per se, the Cisco Collaboration Cloud is the company's new, built-fromscratch platform for delivering cloud-based, real- and non-real time collaboration services.

In building the platform – with its inception loosely coinciding with the arrival of Rowan Trollope and Jonathan Rosenberg at Cisco – the team leveraged "the learnings and technologies" from its existing web conferencing, video telepresence, unified communications, and voice offerings.

This being said, the offering is developed by a San Francisco-based team that is hidden away from the rest of Cisco so that it can freely innovate – and thus actually deliver on new-age concepts such as agile development.

The cloud-based platform is designed around four major tenants-

IterationEnable agile development via fast, continuous delivery. The goal is to roll out incremental versions, measure what users prefer, and continuously refine at a pace that will keep up with consumer services – and help "bring the cool stuff back to work."

FusionTie together new and existing offerings on a customer's premises, hosted by partners, or on the Collaboration Cloud itself. Examples include Cisco Spark, WebEx / CMR, and Jabber; Microsoft Active Directory and Exchange; standards interop with SIP and XMPP; and third-party offerings such as Box.

SecurityGoing beyond SSL traffic encryption, Cisco has implemented "end-to-end content encryption," in which all content is encrypted in the client itself prior to transmission. This ensures the content is secure if it is stored in the cloud. Cisco is also one of the driving forces between the new Privacy Enhanced RTP Conferencing (PERC) working group at the IETF.

The goal of PERC is to enable end-to-end encrypted real-time media. Also of note: with the acquisition of Synata in May 2016, Cisco gained technology that enables encrypted content to be searched.

EcosystemThe cloud is designed to serve the full ecosystem of partners, developers, and administrators as equal "first class citizens." While the first service delivered on the Collaboration Cloud is Spark, Cisco has made a full set of API's available to enable the development of third-party applications and service offerings.

To accelerate thirdparty development, in May 2015, Cisco acquired Tropo, a developer of a cloud API platform designed to make it easier for developers, service providers, and enterprises to embed Spark-driven real-time communications within applications.

Less than a year later, in March 2016, Cisco announced it will make $150 million available through a Cisco Spark Innovation Fund to help incubate applications and integrations built on the Spark platform.

There is a new excitement at Cisco, with the proof points being WebEx CMR, Spark-the-platform, and the Collaboration Cloud. Will it be enough to paint a vision that is distinctly different from Microsoft and compelling enough to derail SfB’s momentum?

About The Author
Kalpana Araya
Kalpana Araya Kalpana is an inquisitive tech enthusiast who loves reading & writing everything under the sun. Currently writing for Tech, SAAS, IT Hardware and Software products. She is a Digital expert with 5+ years of experience in the industry.