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How Are Large Enterprises Utilizing Collaboration in the Cloud?

Today, we ‘re featuring a guest post from Brian Blatnik, a senior manager within Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group:

In the month since our CloudVerse announcement the notion of a world of many clouds – public, private, and hybrid – has resonated with our customers, partners, and industry analysts. I’d like to share some perspective on how those types of clouds address different customers in the collaboration cloud services market. Since last month’s announcement highlighted our private cloud model in that market, Hosted Collaboration Solution for Large Enterprises, I’ll focus on that model. As a reminder, the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution gives partners, including service providers and integrators, the ability to deploy multiple collaboration applications on one server in a virtualized environment and then host those applications for multiple client organizations. The solution is designed to be run from partner data centers.

I’m often asked, “Haven’t enterprise voice and other UC services always been delivered from what we now call a private cloud?” It’s true that IP PBXs and other UC servers, like their PBX predecessors, provide services to users from a remote room or facility via a network. But there are two ways in which today’s cloud service delivery differs. First, there is the efficiency of pooling computing, network, and storage resources across multiple locations and services. Second, the services can be delivered in an on-demand fashion with elastic scaling.

The financial and strategic benefits deriving from these two factors are leading many businesses to consider consuming collaboration services in a utility model from Cisco’s partners in the Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS). But the same drivers can result in substantial benefits to businesses that aren’t looking for services from a third party’s public cloud. Read More »

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HCS: Now bringing flexible customer collaboration to an SMB near you

I’m pleased to announce that customer collaboration solutions are becoming available in the cloud with the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution for Contact Center (HCS) in early 2012. These solutions are optimized for companies with 500-1,000 agents, with emphasis on scalability, simplicity, flexibility, and speed.

Scalability allows the technology to be deployed to a wide range of customers. Thus, powerful customer collaboration solutions can scale based on the specific size and makeup of the customer. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all contact center solutions; now if you’re a small to medium-sized business you can cater to your customers’ needs and concerns with the same tools as a large one, and at vastly accelerated speed.

Midsize businesses often do not have the resources to deal with complex IT systems, which is why simplicity is paramount. With the simplified management of a cloud-based contact center solution, SMB’s IT departments can focus their time on more urgent matters.

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Connect to your colleagues through the cloud, no matter where you are

Most of us cannot imagine our lives without our smartphones. When it comes to business, it’s no secret that most employees consider their smartphone their alternative to access work resources when away from their laptop or desktop. With this in mind, Cisco extends a number of additional services through HCS including one of the more popular collaboration features, enterprise dial, through something we’ve just added to our HCS portfolio called IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) integration.

Through this network integration of fixed to mobile, service providers offering our HCS portfolio can leverage their own infrastructure to differentiate and drive fixed mobile convergence and thus extend enterprise dial to its customers’ end users.

So what does this all mean?

Mobile Service Providers will now be enabled to deliver business call features onto all mobile devices, without being dependent upon the device being ‘smart’ or ‘client enabled’.  These features include, single number reach, seamless call transfer and mid call transfer.

Another valuable benefit from IMS integration is that it facilitates access of multimedia and voice applications from wireless and wireline terminals. For example, this means if you are a smartphone and traditional mobile phone user away on business in China, and someone rings your desk-line, the call will now transcend through the network seamlessly and reach your mobile. Read More »

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CloudVerse: How Does Cisco Collaboration in the Cloud Tie In?

Today, Cisco introduced CloudVerse, an end-to-end solution to build, manage and connect clouds. Cisco revealed how it sees the cloud: one in which it enables the world to operate more simply not just from one collective cloud but rather a world of many clouds where the organizations can choose how their cloud solutions are developed whether it’s a highly secure private cloud, a more open public cloud or a hybrid. Within these various cloud environments, IT is delivered as a service and end users can collaborate dynamically and consume content on-demand.

With Cisco’s network based cloud solutions serving as the foundation, Cisco also introduced new enhancements and functionalities to its ever growing Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS). The Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution gives partners, including service providers and integrators, the ability to deploy multiple collaboration applications on one server in a virtualized environment and then host those applications for multiple client organizations. The solution is designed to be run from partner data centers.  Just last week, Fujitsu’s Andy Stevenson, executive director of their hosting and network services group discussed how they’ve combined their experience and expansive network to develop anew hosted offer, the Fujitsu Cloud Connect service.. Fujitsu’s new service helps employees collaborate more efficiently on any device using a uniform suite of Cisco collaboration technology available on demand.

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Where is the Cloud Collaboration Market Heading?

The hosted services market has seen tremendous growth over the past year. In particular, Cisco’s own Hosted Collaboration Solution has received the greatest validation from service providers, including key deployments with Verizon earlier this year and Orange Business Services recently announcing their Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in June. Businesses are now realizing the value of providing a rich suite of collaboration applications that are accessible anywhere, on any device.

The next question remains, once these solutions are developed and initially adopted, what’s the next innovation in the market that will keep current customers, while attracting potential ones?

There’s no denying that mobile devices are a part of everyday business life. With many users accessing business applications and resources via their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops, it’s only natural for the next iteration of cloud collaboration to stretch into the mobile realm.

In a recent study conducted by Cisco’s independent research arm, The Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), it was revealed from those surveyed that business users will be key adopters of mobile cloud services.

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