In February 2018, Cisco completed the acquisition of Broadsoft – the world’s largest cloud telephony platform – and left the IT industry wondering exactly what they would do with it. There were also questions around what it would mean for their existing collaboration portfolio, particularly the on-premise Communications Manager solution. Around a month ago, Kevin Rama, Softcat’s Cisco Alliance Manager, and I were invited to an exclusive briefing of just 20 European Cisco partners at Cisco’s German offices in Frankfurt, where we were fully informed about the acquisition.
Firstly, the detail.
Everyone knows that Cisco was already the dominant player in on-premise collaboration and Telephony, with market share approaching 45% in some regions. Similarly, most people were aware of Broadsoft’s dominance in the cloud telephony market, either through their direct offering, Broadcloud, hosted in Broadsoft datacentres, or their ISP hosted offering, Broadworks, sold and rebranded by ISPs around the world.
At the same time, Cisco was no stranger to Cloud collaboration solutions, having purchased and developed Webex Meetings, and created Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark) in recent years. So, the real question was how Cisco would bring all of these different solutions and technologies together to create a coherent solution for customer. The answer is Cisco Webex Calling.
What is Cisco Webex Calling?
Simply put, Cisco are taking the best parts of the Broadsoft solution, namely a true Enterprise grade cloud PBX platform, and integrating this with their other class leading cloud collaboration platforms – namely Webex Meetings for cloud conferencing, and Webex Teams for team messaging, file sharing, and whiteboarding.
These two platforms have been merging over the last couple of years, and with Calling now available to complement them, Cisco has a fully featured cloud-only platform available for customers who wish to migrate all of their collaboration workload into the cloud, all access by the end-user through a single desktop client, for calling, meetings, and messaging.
What about Communications Manager?
All of this begs the question: what is happening to Communications Manager? The straightforward answer is that it’s not going away anytime soon. There are literally millions of deployed phones in existence registered to Cisco Communications Manager, and Cisco are committed to supporting them and developing this platform in future. Cisco Jabber is the most widely deployed collaboration client in the world, used by millions of people daily. We believe Cisco will provide a wide range of options to either integrate cloud and on-premise solutions to create hybrid options where that's most suitable (such as the integration between Communications Manager and Webex Meetings that you can see today), as well as migration paths from on-premise to cloud solutions for customers that deem them appropriate, that make sense both technically and commercially. A major example of this is the introduction of the Flex plan, allowing customers to convert their existing perpetual licensing into a monthly or annual subscription that can be used to deploy either on-premise or cloud solutions.
How do I find out more?
I mentioned at the start that the briefing we attended in Frankfurt was limited to 20 European partners only -that translates to just 3 partners in the UK. As one of these 3, Softcat are a launch partner with Cisco for Webex Calling. This means that we have already received both sales and technical training in Webex Calling and are ready to discuss with you how Webex Calling, or any other part of the Cisco Collaboration portfolio, will best fit your requirements. Simply reach out to your Account Manager at Softcat and ask to speak to one of the Collaboration team, or fill in the form below.