Today at the eighth-annual Cisco Collaboration Summit taking place in San Francisco, the company unveiled a series of enhancements that, as promised, turn its Spark collaboration application into a platform.
Regular No Jitter readers and industry watchers will recall that Cisco previewed its collaboration application as Project Squared at last year's summit. It then formally launched the app under the new Cisco Spark brand and announced general availability at Enterprise Connect 2015 in March.
I take my title from the opening comments of Ross Daniels, Cisco senior director, collaboration marketing leader, during an hour-long pre-briefing for industry analysts last Friday. Kudos to Daniels, a 15-year Cisco contact center and collaboration veteran, on an excellent session. He has worked with so many of us for so long that he wasn't just prepared for our questions, but he often predicted which analyst would ask which question.
While Cisco has made an enormous investment in Spark, it recognizes that "a massive portion of our installed base, indeed of the market as a whole, still wants to have one foot, one leg, half a body remaining in the on-prem world," Daniels said. "We aim to help them extend the value of that prem investment while allowing them to participate in cloud services."
Recalling Cisco Collaboration Summit 2015, Daniels pointed to the declaration there by Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group, that "we're showing you an app, but we're building a platform." Cisco is now making good on that promise, turning Spark into a full collaboration and communications platform with a number of services, Daniels said.
Spark Calling Service
Arguably the most important of those services, which you can see in the graphic above, is Cisco Spark Service. With this offering, for small and medium-sized businesses and the midmarket, Cisco will go head to head with cloud communications providers such as 8x8 and RingCentral. Cisco describes the Spark calling service as "a complete business collaboration service from the Cisco cloud that enables customers to message, meet, or call anyone, anywhere, and anytime."
Those of you familiar with the Cisco collaboration app will know that users have been able to make Spark-to-Spark calls for a while. The Spark calling service is an extension, or as Daniels said, "a re-invention," of that providing full cloud PBX capabilities under the Spark brand.
The Spark calling service includes:
"The calling service is new code. This is not a port of Unified Communications Manager to the cloud. This is built from the start as a cloud PBX. The same way that we built Spark as a messaging service, we built the calling service as a cloud PBX," Daniels said.
In other words, he added, Spark calling service is not available for on-premises use. "It's just not possible -- it is true multitenant."
Cisco has not announced which of its preferred media partners will provide the PSTN services. That information should come closer to the first-quarter 2016 availability Cisco has planned for the Spark calling service, Daniels said. He did say, however, that Cisco will form peering relationships with those providers for voice calling.
Voice peering refers to the forwarding of calls from one service provider to another directly using VoIP technology. In other words, the peering arrangements will let Spark calls move from one VoIP cloud to another without needing to traverse the PSTN and taking the transcoding hit that would require. This means Cisco should be able to offer the service at lower cost and better quality than it could in the absence of peering partners. I suspect that existing Cisco Intercloudpartners such as British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, and Telstra will be on the list of preferred media partners for Spark the Service.
Hosted by Cisco, Sold by Partners
Cisco will host the Spark platform in its data centers for partners to resell. This is in line with how Cisco has offered Spark to date, as well as how it sells its WebEx Web conferencing service, but represents a departure from how Cisco has handled its premises-based collaboration offerings and sold its Hosted Collaboration Service (HCS). This is a major change -- and potentially a challenge -- for the company, which for years has emphasized a go-to-market model based on its technology hosted within partner data centers.
"We've been briefing major HCS partners for several months. There are no secrets here; they know what we have been doing," Daniels said.
Cisco believes existing HCS partners will have opportunities as Cisco Spark services expand, Daniels said. The Spark platform will allow partners -- presumably more easily than was true with HCS -- to extend the services they offer beyond voice into conferencing, video, and collaboration, he added.
Similar to the flurry of posts that followed on the announcements of Project Squared, Unify's Circuit nee Project Ansible, and Interactive Intelligence's PureCloud, No Jitter will be filled this week with stories coming from Collaboration Summit. Look for another by me on Spark for Developers, which will highlight the integration Altocloud announced with Cisco Spark and other Spark implications for the contact center market.
SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Building on the strength of a decade-long relationship, Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM) announced today that its voice desktop and conferencing portfolios will be the first that support and interoperate with the Microsoft Office 365 Cloud PBX services. Organizations migrating to Office 365 will be searching for voice solutions that meet or exceed those they currently experience on traditional PBX lines; Polycom’s solutions portfolio uniquely addresses the needs of new Office 365 Cloud PBX service customers with rich collaboration features that work both on the desktop and in the conference room.
The Polycom® VVX® business media phones are the first Open-SIP interoperability phones to support Office 365 Cloud PBX services, giving customers the key additional features that they have been looking for including a touchscreen interface, intercom, group paging and a shared line experience.
The recently announced Polycom® RealPresence Trio™, the first smart hub for group collaboration that transforms the iconic three-point conference phone into a voice, content-sharing and video system that can fit into any team environment, will provide a state-of-the-art conference room experience for businesses of any size (read the related press release).
“Our relationship with Polycom has provided our customers with innovations that have allowed for the highest quality in human collaboration across the world,” said Giovanni Mezgec, General Manager of Applications and Services Marketing at Microsoft. “Polycom solutions, like the Polycom VVX business media phones and the Polycom RealPresence Trio, already interoperate with Skype for Business and will provide enhanced desktop and conference room applications that will offer a superior user experience for our Office 365 Cloud PBX customers.”
Polycom’s portfolio includes more than 40 existing voice, content collaboration and video solutions that deeply integrate with Skype for Business/Microsoft Lync and are qualified by Microsoft. Polycom also remains the only industry partner to offer Skype for Business conference phones. Currently, seven Polycom VVX media phone models come pre-configured with Skype for Business and the RealPresence Trio smart hub will be the first to offer deep integration across multiple UC platforms including Skype for Business and Microsoft Lync that will allow for industry-leading conference features. For more information about Polycom’s solutions for Skype for Business, visit Polycom.com.
“We are witnessing a disruptive technology transformation that continues the trend of the demise of traditional PBX’s,” said Ashan Willy, Senior Vice President, Product Management & Worldwide Systems Engineering at Polycom. “The new cloud-based communications services from Microsoft are truly game changing and Polycom is proud to participate in this journey to provide the richest, highest quality and most natural solution in the industry.”
SAN JOSE, Calif. – November 20, 2015 – Today, Cisco announced its intent to acquire Acano Limited, a privately held company based in London that provides collaboration infrastructure and conferencing software. Acano’s hardware and software includes gateways, and video and audio bridging technology that allows customers to connect video systems from multiple vendors across both cloud and hybrid environments. This acquisition will accelerate Cisco’s collaboration strategy to deliver video everywhere, providing the best collaboration experience across every endpoint, every screen, every workspace, and to every user.
Today, less than 10 percent of the conference rooms in the world are connected via video. However, there is a massive market shift underway in collaboration – customers want the ability to easily connect from anywhere, from dedicated hardware endpoints to sharing video on a mobile phone. Cisco’s collaboration business is already seeing the impact of this trend, with 17 percent year-over-year growth in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016. As the momentum continues, there is a need to deliver solutions that will connect any system, regardless of vendor, at a scale that is dramatically higher than ever before. Acano’s technology and expertise will enable us to accelerate our development in the key areas of interoperability and scalability.
• Interoperability: In this rapidly growing industry, customers expect any new collaboration solution to work with their existing technology. Acano shares Cisco’s commitment to interoperability; they have focused on developing products that connect a wide variety of endpoints and systems from all the major collaboration vendors. Their technology further enhances Cisco’s ability to deliver video from the cloud to any screen. This includes enhanced support for Microsoft’s proprietary protocols and mobile browsers through WebRTC support.
• Scalability: As collaboration adoption grows, so does the need for infrastructure models that can support a higher capacity of users and systems than customers have ever required before. This is important in both cloud-based environments and hybrid environments where customers have a mix of cloud and on premises solutions. Acano has solved several key challenges in delivering collaboration at dramatically increased scale – with both dedicated hardware appliances and virtualized software options that allow customers to connect tens of thousands of users and meeting rooms without compromising on the audio and video experience.
With Acano, we believe we can accelerate our collaboration momentum and bring new capabilities to market faster. Together, Cisco and Acano will be able to capture the expanding market opportunity in collaboration and deliver open and interoperable solutions whether in the cloud or via a hybrid model.
“People, companies and organizations are more geographically dispersed than ever before, and collaboration is essential to helping teams increase productivity and drive growth,” said Rob Salvagno, vice president, Cisco Corporate Development. “Acano’s innovations make it easier for customers to collaborate when, where and how they want. Together, we will help our customers to extend collaboration to every room, every screen and every user.”
The Acano team will join the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group led by Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay $700 million in cash and assumed equity awards, plus additional retention based incentives for Acano employees who join Cisco. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of fiscal year 2016, subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory review.
December 04, 2015 at 01:04 PM | Permalink
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Cisco has been busy the last two days pushing out a patch and security advisories for a number of its products, including a fix for a remotely exploitable vulnerability in its WebEx Meetings mobile application for Android.
Cisco said the vulnerability affects versions prior to 8.5.1 of the app, and that it is not aware of public exploits.
“A vulnerability in the custom application permissions handling for Cisco WebEx Meetings for Android could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to change platform-specific permissions of a custom application,” Cisco said in its advisory published Tuesday.
The Android developer website, however, warns that developers defining custom permissions is often unnecessary and could expose apps to attack. In the case of the WebEx for Android vulnerability, an attacker would need to trick the user to download a malicious app to the device that would exploit the flaw and gain the same permissions as the WebEx app.
“An exploit could allow the attacker to utilize the custom application to silently acquire the same permissions as the WebEx application,” Cisco said. An updated version has already been added to Google Play.
Also on Tuesday, Cisco published three security advisories, warning users of vulnerabilities that have yet to be patched.
The first advisory was for its Unified Computing System (UCS) data center platform, addressing a server-side request forgery vulnerability. The flaw affects UCS version 1.3 and 18.104.22.168. The software platform allows data center managers to unify network, storage and virtualization management into one system.
“The vulnerability is due to improper validation of user-supplied input on the affected system,” Cisco said. “An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending the user of the web application a crafted request. If processed, the attacker could gain access and perform unauthorized actions on the targeted system.”
Cisco also warned of a cross-site scripting vulnerability in Cisco Unity Connection, a messaging (email, instant messaging) and voicemail management product. The flaw is in the web-based management interface and remote attackers could use XSS attack against a user’s browser. Version 9.1 is affected, Cisco said.
“The vulnerability is due to insufficient input validation of a user-supplied value,” Cisco said in its advisory. “An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by convincing a user to click on a malicious link. An exploit could allow the attacker to gain access to sensitive information on the targeted system.”
The final advisory addresses a vulnerability in the Cisco Unified SIP Phone 3905 that enables an attacker to remotely cause a denial of service condition and crash the phone.
“The vulnerability is due to a resource limitation of the device. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending large amounts of traffic to the affected device,” Cisco said. “An exploit could cause the device to stop functioning properly, resulting in a DOS condition.”
by Michael Mimoso (Twitter: @mike_mimoso)