I have always enjoyed my work. It’s a big part of who I am. Right now I am having an unprecedented amount of fun leading the collaboration team at Cisco. We are completely reinventing how the world connects and communicates. We are right on the cusp of massive change that will be fueled by machine intelligence and virtual reality. Our goal is to get amazing technology into everyone’s hands. It is both an honor and a real joy to work on this.

Today at Partner Summit, we announced innovations that will help us get amazing technology into more hands, faster.

Simple to Buy: Cisco Spark Flex Plan
Cloud is the way of the future. Transitioning to the cloud is critical for companies large and small. But not every company is ready to move everyone and everything to the cloud today. We want customers to transition to the cloud when and how it makes sense.  The buying process has made this tricky. Customers have had to buy cloud and on-premises solutions in different ways. Sometimes it meant choosing the solution based on whether want an OpEx or CapEx purchasing model. We are fixing that today with the new Cisco Spark Flex Plan.

In a single contract, the Cisco Spark Flex Plan lets you choose cloud, on-premises based services, or a little of both. Change your mix at any time; the price stays the same.

  • For meetings, choose from cloud-based Cisco Spark Meetings, WebEx, or the recently announced on-premises Cisco Meeting Server.
  • For calls, choose either Cisco Spark call or a Cisco Unified Communications Manager-based option.

Change your mind on either or both at any time. It’s flexible, affordable, and simple.

Simple to Use and Integrate: Cisco Spark Depot
Cisco Spark Depot
We need our favorite tools to work together simply, magically even. That is why we built Cisco Spark as an open platform. This makes it easy to natively integrate Cisco Spark into other apps like we are doing with Salesforce.

Cisco Spark Depot will make it super-simple for users to find integrations to simplify the workday. Go to the Depot to find integrations that make Cisco Spark work magically with Google Calendar, Jive, Trello, Box, Red Booth, and others. Check back frequently as partners are adding integrations daily.

Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Media Service
Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service lets us bring a little “cloud magic” to on-premises deployments. It gives customers the option to deploy Cisco Spark meetings on-prem, in the cloud, or even both at the same time. The service automatically determines the best way to deliver the meeting for each user – from the premises if users are local or from the cloud if not.

It simplifies resource planning by adding users via the cloud after local resources are tapped. With Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service, any meeting can hold as many participants as needed—no limitations. The service improves the quality of audio and video, keeps media on-prem for privacy, and lowers Internet bandwidth costs by eliminating media hair-pinning to the cloud. It can be set up in as little as ten minutes. Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service is available now at no extra cost to Cisco Spark meetings customers.

Simple for Smaller Businesses to Get Started: Business Edition
We know small companies have big collaboration needs, and we are so excited to be serving this underserved market. We want to help businesses of all sizes get started with great collaboration. And we want to help our partners make that happen. To that end, we’re excited to announce two updates to the Cisco Business Edition portfolio.

  • Cisco Business Edition 4000 is a new premises-based, cloud-managed telephony platform that is ideal for SMBs. It provides affordable IP telephony and voice mail for up to 200 devices. Super easy to install, partners can have this up and running in less than one day. In addition, Business Edition 4000 sets up smaller companies for success: The initial investment in phones will work with the technologies they need as they grow and their communications needs evolve – whether they move to the cloud or stay on-premises.
  • Partners will be able to get customers up and running on Business Edition 6000 a whole lot quicker. Our new management tool lets partners do a lot of the work before delivery to the customer site, reducing installation times by up to 60%.

Our partners are excited about getting all this into the hands of their customers. Read more about that in Gary Wolfson’s post “Collaboration Just Got Simpler and More Flexible.

There has never been a better time in the team collaboration space. I can’t wait for what comes next. Stay tuned and stay in touch with me on Twitter @rowantrollope.