First Cisco Connect Cloud Calling Regional Business and Technical Summit
This week, in Richardson, TX, the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group hosted our first Cisco Connect Cloud Calling regional business and technical summit. With over 100 of our North American channel partner organizations in attendance – this event provided a deeper dive into Cisco’s overall cloud calling strategy, our newest product innovations and a sneak peek at where Cisco will be taking the collaboration business over the coming months.
Three Key Messages
For those that were not able to attend, I will highlight three key messages and takeaways from the event.
1) We are offering Webex everywhere
Webex is the leading global platform in communications and collaboration. Because of the significant investments we have made over the past 18 months, Webex is the only platform in the world that delivers a fully integrated hardware and software experience for calling, meetings, messaging and customer care. With the cooperation of our partner community, we are driving Webex into every customer segment – from micro-business, all the way to large multi-national enterprises.
Our Jabber, UC-One and Webex experiences are converging into a common look and feel, and they now reuse many of the same back-end Webex cloud services for the collaboration workloads. With the upcoming unified Webex app, we will enable a common calling, meetings and messaging experience for use on all our calling solutions – including Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM), Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), Cisco UCM Cloud, Cisco BroadWorks, Cisco BroadCloud for Carriers, and Cisco Webex Calling. As a partner, this will greatly simplify your life, because it means your customers only download one application – regardless of what offer you are selling them.
2) Our cloud calling strategy continues to be partner driven
To offer cloud calling in every segment of the market and every part of the world requires a diverse set of channel partnerships. In some markets, like the mid-market, we continue to work closely with the value-added strengths and services of our VAR community. In other segments, particularly the highly transactional micro and small-medium business segments – we value the differentiation, bundling and calling plans our service providers can offer in their respective regions around the world. We also have partners that take our complete portfolio and serve everything from micro-businesses to large multinationals.
Our global partners are serving more than 29 million business seats across 80+ countries using Cisco’s cloud calling platforms and we remain committed to their continued growth and success. With representation from 100’s of VAR and service provider organizations at the Connect Cloud Calling event, we were excited to see the high level of engagement in our partner community to continue to grow their UCaaS offers. Many partners have built very successful offers around our partner hosted infrastructure – Cisco HCS and Cisco BroadWorks. Others are focused on leveraging the Cisco hosted offers, like BroadCloud for Carriers. Earlier this year we introduced Webex Calling as the integrated calling offer in Webex. This allows our partners to offer the complete suite of calling, meetings and messaging from a single platform in the Cisco cloud – without having to deploy any infrastructure. We were excited by the level of commitment and adoption from our partners to take this new offer to market.
Cisco is a partner-driven company. The knowledge we gain and the knowledge we share together at these events helps ensure that we are in lock-step with each other. As we move forward in partnership, it’s this level of open dialog that ensures our collective advantage in delivering the collaboration solutions needed to lead our customers prosperously through their digital transformation journeys.
3) Partner Hosted Calling Infrastructure is alive and well
Probably the most important thing we wanted our partners to take away is that Cisco is fully vested in both our partner hosted calling infrastructure solutions Cisco BroadWorks and Cisco HCS, as well as Cisco hosted solutions, Cisco Webex Calling and Cisco UCM Cloud. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for calling, across all markets and segments, and we recognize that our partners need choice in how they offer the best product for their specific customer needs.
Cisco Collaboration sneak peek
Next year, we will deliver a major update, Release 24, of Cisco BroadWorks, our flagship multi-tenant cloud calling, partner hosted platform. Cisco BroadWorks continues to be our strategic solution for enabling service providers around the world to offer their own customized cloud calling offer. The majority of business cloud calling seats around the world are powered by Cisco BroadWorks, and we will keep that strong momentum.
Cisco BroadWorks already has the most advanced set of business calling features in the industry, so our focus in the latest updates are around helping our partners reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO). We are enhancing system monitoring capabilities, to automatically capture and archive Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and traffic measurements, facilitating ease of troubleshooting and monitoring of system health. Release 24 allows service providers to independently upgrade each server component of their platform, thus simplifying the upgrade dependencies of their system. This will enable operators to adopt a more modern, automated and continuous software deployment process, so they can get new updates to market faster.
We are also adding tighter integrations between Cisco BroadWorks and the industry leading portfolio of Cisco phone sets. While Cisco BroadWorks remains an open platform, interoperable with any standards compliant phone vendor, the Cisco MPP phones allow us to add differentiating capabilities, including zero-touch device activation through the Cisco Global Discovery service and MPP device onboarding optimizations.
How we can help
We still see strong demand from businesses that want to move their PBX into a hosted service, but aren’t ready to move to a multi-tenant platform. This is common in market segments where customers build custom integrations or workflows around calling. They want a dedicated cloud platform, so they have more control over when the platform is upgraded. For this reason, Cisco offers cloud-based options for the large installed base of Cisco UCM customers – HCS, hosted by our partners, or Cisco UCM Cloud, hosted by Cisco. Both platforms are built on the same UCM software and receive regular updates. Today, HCS and UCM Cloud are aligned with UCM version 12. Next year we will align with the upcoming release of UCM version 14. So HCS and UCM Cloud get all the great features of UCM, usually within a six-month window.
Focus on helping our partners
Cisco HCS continues to be our strategic infrastructure platform for partners that want to host a multi-instance offer to their larger enterprise customers. Like Cisco BroadWorks, with HCS we are focusing on helping our partners become more profitable. To help our partners drive down their TCO on HCS, we are simplifying the license management and on-premises to hosted migration processes. We are also improving overall performance and reliability.
The key point we want everyone to takeaway is that our hosted infrastructure is a critical part of our overall cloud calling portfolio at Cisco, and we continue to invest in both our HCS and Cisco BroadWorks platforms.
In closing, I want to send a big thank you to all of our partners who were able to spend time with us in Richardson, Texas this week. For those of you who were not able to make it, we hope to see you at another event soon, in your region.
I encourage you to reach out to your Cisco account manager today to learn more about these and other collaboration-related topics.
Happy holidays to all.
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