Apparently Monday was just a warm-up. Tuesday started with several announcements before sunrise and just kept going past sundown with the Cisco Reception. The energy level throughout the day? A strong buzzing. And there was a lot to buzz about, starting with the morning press release kicking off the day with announcements tied to Cisco Spark, including:
- The $150 million Spark Innovation Fund to encourage and support application and integration development
- U.S. availability of the Cisco Spark service through providers and partners
- The acquisition of Synata to support search of highly encrypted data in the cloud
All of the energy around the announcements brought even more into Rowan Trollope’s keynote session. Rowan definitely has a way of telling the Cisco Collaboration story. He talked about joining Cisco three years ago and realizing there was one thing preventing Cisco from creating delightful user experiences: complexity. And the barrier to creating amazing user experiences still today? The complexity of the industry. He’s a big fan of simplicity.
He called out that two industries – web conferencing and video conferencing – really should be one. There shouldn’t be a distinction between the type of meetings. As he puts it, “people just have meetings.” His example got a good laugh: “Think of it like WebEx and telepresence had a baby – and it was a really beautiful baby.”
Rowan describes the development of Spark as “simplification of complexity.” He went through the different elements of Spark – messaging, meeting, and calling, and how the new Spark service brings all the functionality into a new experience for customers and partners.
But another key part of the message goes beyond simplicity to openness, saying “If we’re going to call it a platform, it has to be open.” He explained how Collaboration CTO Jonathan Rosenberg made a rule for our engineering teams: Cisco developers must use the very same APIs that we publish to you for free.
And for the demo – no smoke, no mirrors, no flash, all live — he made a Spark call on a mobile, walked over to a room endpoint that recognized him as soon as he got close to it. He could then swipe on the mobile to move the call and video to the endpoint. When he wanted to go to another room, he swiped on the mobile to bring the call back and walked over to another endpoint where he could again just swipe to move the call to the endpoint.
The Spark Innovation Fund
A $150M endeavor by Cisco to unlock the great ideas that have the potential to change the way we work together, the Spark Innovation Fund is growing the Spark ecosystem further. The idea is to reach more developers globally to build upon the Cisco Spark platform. So what does the fund support? They’re looking for customer-focused ideas that utilize the communications services in a transformative way. The fund activity will include direct investments, non-equity seeding, and joint development programs.
APIs and More APIs, Oh My
Speaking of developers and APIs… Jason Goecke, director and GM of Tropo Operations at Cisco, participated in a panel session on APIs, The API Ecosystem: Getting What You Need, moderated by Dave Michels, principal analyst at TalkingPointz. (Two points for Michels for mixing up the panel format and not asking having each panelist answer every question alphabetically by company. Been there, done that, started dozing.) For Jason’s part he focused on simplicity of APIs and how important it is to advocate for developers as first-class users of products. The Spark for Developers portal itself is a better example than anything I could write. (In fact, I’ve actually used it to create integrations with Spark. No really, I did. It’s that straightforward.)
Busy, busy once again. The Cisco booth tours seemed to be running non-stop with people coming in for demos of the latest products. I took some time this afternoon to with some of the partners showing integrations with our customer care, Spark, and Tropo products. Some pretty cool things happening with these companies: Altocloud, IntelePeer, Istonish, LookingPoint, KBZ (a scansource company), Telstra, Upstream Works, and Unified FX Limited.
On the Way for Wednesday
The Best of Enterprise Connect award presentation (I’m admittedly partial to a particular finalist called Cisco Spark), panels with Jonathan Rosenberg and Tom Richards, one more day of the show floor, and a couple of keynotes from some of our competitors.
Further Tuesday Tidbits
- More News of a Sparky Nature: Cisco Teams with Verizon to Offer Cloud-Based Collaboration
- Cisco Champions in the House! One of the benefits of my job is being the Collaboration Lead for the Cisco Champions program. Today I got to spend time with @ChrisKnowsIT and one of his colleagues, connecting them with some of my wise collaboration teammates for endpoint demos in the booth.
Missed the Day 1 wrap-up? Here it is. Right here.