The announced convergence of the Webex and Spark platforms is far more than just a rebrand.
Significant technical work has gone into combining these platforms, including the launch of a new Webex Meetings application, a new Webex Teams application (formerly known as Cisco Spark), the new Webex Assistant, and the Webex Share hardware device.
Here's some of the customer benefits that come as a result.
Prior to this convergence, both Webex and Cisco Spark had meetings capabilities and they were quite disparate, even in the back end. Webex meetings were supported by servers sitting in the Webex data centers, and interconnected with the powerful Webex backbone IP network, optimizing for video quality. While Cisco Spark meetings were powered by servers in public clouds. From the users' perspective, Cisco Spark had its own type of meetings, which were different from the Webex own meetings.
With the convergence it is all simplified: Everything is a Webex meeting, with a common set of features – roster, meeting controls, PSTN connectivity, and so on. All Webex meetings are also joinable from either the Webex Meetings application or the Webex Teams application.
The Webex backbone is used for all meetings, regardless of whether they are joined from the Webex Meetings app or the Webex Teams app. Cisco has meeting servers in both public clouds and in their own data centers and the Webex backbone interconnects with both of them.
This means that customers get the best quality, lowest latency experience possible. This is particularly important for video, since the Webex backbone was purpose built for video meetings.
Prior to this convergence, the Cisco Spark management tool, the Control Hub, provided some basic analytics for Cisco Spark. Webex customers used a different tool, called Site Admin and had a wider set of analytics capabilities there.
With the platform convergence, the Control Hub now supports customers using both Webex Meetings and Webex Teams, and its analytics functions for Webex Meetings have taken a significant jump forward.
Hybrid Media Service, the service that allowed Cisco Spark users to deploy servers on premise which could be used for the audio, video and content share streams, can now be used for any Webex meeting type – regular Webex meetings, PMR meetings, and Team meetings.
Users joining those meetings from SIP endpoints, cloud connected video endpoints, or the Webex Teams app, will connect to the Hybrid Media nodes when joining any of those meetings. With the convergence, Cisco is renaming hybrid media services to video mesh.
It is increasingly common to work outside the boundaries of your company, and our competitors solution for this threat is to allow guest accounts to be created on their team collaboration instance in the cloud. End users need to ask for administrator intervention to create guest accounts, they need to maintain multiple accounts, and they need to log in and out of the app when they want to collaborate outside of their company.
This is a pain and it also creates a huge security risk: Guest accounts enable users to share information outside of their company in a way that cannot be tracked by compliance tools. This means that an employee can accidentally – or purposefully – share confidential information outside the company, and the company won’t be aware of it, and won’t be able to take steps to remove the leak.
Specific to Webex Teams, the back-end convergence has enabled Cisco to deliver the industry's first secure multi-company collaboration solution.
All Webex Teams users reside in a single, shared cloud instance – each with just a single account. There are no guest accounts. B2B collaboration is built in so users can work with everyone, both inside and outside of the company, from the same application, without asking their IT guy for help.
In addition, this means that each company can make sure that their employees don’t share confidential information outside of the company, and if they do, it can be detected and remediated.
The convergence of Cisco Spark and Webex is far from a rebranding – it goes to platform level and brings amazing new benefits to our customers.