Written by Rob Quickenden, Cisilion’s Chief Technology Officer.
The latest partnership between Cisco and Microsoft is the most significant breakthrough in video conferencing interoperability we have seen yet.
Don’t underestimate this announcement. This news is huge in the world of collaboration. Cisco and Microsoft have always been competitors in this space.
For years, customers have been asking for a simpler way to achieve interoperability between Cisco and Microsoft Teams Rooms. At Microsoft’s global tech conference, Ignite last week, those customers’ asks may have been answered, giving customers the option to run Microsoft Teams by default on Cisco Room and Desk devices.
This is not simply an “if you can’t beat em join em” thing – there are some huge benefits to Cisco’s existing customers in addition to Microsoft, Cisco and their partners.
Cisco has been an innovative leader in the collaboration devices category for over two decades and its collaboration products have always been in high demand due to their design, reliability, and security.
The Teams experience you know, on Cisco collaboration devices you’ll love.
Microsoft Teams certified devices from Cisco promise to unlock greater flexibility and improved experiences for businesses, IT and employees.
Why this is good for Customers
We see these three key advantages of this newly released partnership for existing and new Cisco customers:
1. Cost Efficiency and Choice
By retaining and reusing the investment in Cisco Video Conferencing technology, organisations moving to Microsoft Teams can achieve significant cost savings, not to mention time and effort, from not having to purchase, implement, fit out and deploy new devices.
Organisations that have already got an investment in Cisco Room Devices, will receive a firmware update as part of the update schedule. Once deployed, IT will be able to factory reset the device and choose between the full Cisco RoomOS experience or tailor the software for Microsoft Teams Rooms.
Cisco Devices certified for Microsoft Teams | image (c) Cisco
This provides greater choice both now and in the future as organisations will be able to choose the primary meeting platform that meets the needs of their business without having to rip and replace the hardware.
Initially, six of Cisco’s most popular meeting room devices and peripherals will be certified for Microsoft Teams, with more expected to come later in 2023. The initial wave of devices to be supported are:
(c) Cisco – Schedule teams Room Support for Cisco Devices
2. Simplified and familiar management
One of the biggest headaches when moving to a different ecosystem and vendor is around how IT provisions, configures and manages meeting room devices.
Managing Teams Room devices is critical to scale. With the Cisco MTR solution, organisations will get all the benefits of Teams Admin Centre (subject to whether they are leveraging Teams Rooms Basic or Teams Rooms Pro) along with access to the Cisco Control Hub. Control Hub is Cisco’s unified cloud device management platform with an analytics dashboard to elevate your workspace with environmental analytics and API integrations leveraging the wider Cisco ecosystem including DNA Spaces, your building management. systems and ITSM platform.
This provides consistency for organisations already invested in Cisco Devices who are familiar with Control Hub and a powerful, intuitive management interface for customers who are new to Cisco MTRs.
3. Streamlined, yet, familiar user experience
Since Cisco is baking interoperability into their room systems, it means that not only will users benefit from a native Microsoft Teams Room experience on their Cisco Room Devices, including full access to the full range of collaborative tools such as PowerPoint Live, Teams Apps and Polls etc, but they will also be able to still natively join Webex meetings on Cisco devices that are enrolled into Control Hub.
“By enabling the Microsoft Teams Rooms experience on Cisco devices, customers have the flexibility to choose the experience they want on the devices they love”.
With Cisco RoomOS powering Microsoft Teams Rooms, users will get access to all the intelligence features they have been familiar with in Webex such as the Frames Camera Mode, which uses individual framing for participants to ensure everyone is seen equally in any meeting.
They will also be able to take advantage of Cisco’s audio intelligence [aka noise cancelling] which blocks out unwanted audio distractions. The camera and audio intelligence features will be available through device settings via Room Navigator in case of non-touch devices and the right-side swipe menu on touch screen devices in and out of a call.
Being able to continue to leverage these great features, will reduce platform learning curves as well as ensure organisations are leveraging the value and uniqueness of Cisco devices.
Why this is good news for us
Cisilion specialises in both Cisco and Microsoft collaboration solutions and services and we have been longing for this to happen for years. We see many organisations unable to justify the expense of meeting room technology refresh and re-investment who “simply want to move their meeting and collaboration platform of choice to Microsoft Teams”.
This new partnership means that Cisilion is now able to better serve the needs of our customers’ collaboration strategy, budget, deployment schedule and hardware preference. There is no doubt that Cisco has some of the best video conferencing devices and technology in the market today, coupled with their phenomenal global support and maintenance that Cisco partners have leveraged to provide the stability and uptime guarantees that their global customers expect and demand.
Why this is great news for Microsoft & Cisco
The partnership is two-way of course.
Cisco is a world leader in video conferencing and meeting room technology. The majority of their Webex room kit includes a wealth of clever AI-powered tech such as speaker tracking, noise cancelling, occupancy sensors, environmental monitoring and integrated digital signage technology as well as being the only vendor that creates truly immersive panoramic meeting experiences such as the Cisco Panorama.
In the past, Cisco, Microsoft and Zoom have all collaborated on developing a native video interop technology which uses Web RTC technology, called Direct Guest Join. This, while useful, is around bringing better inter-company collaboration rather than actually allowing organisations to run Teams as their preferred meeting technology and is limited in functionality.
Cisco and Microsoft’s new partnership will enable Microsoft to work collaboratively with Cisco (rather than compete) and bring a new class of innovation into Teams Rooms by borrowing some of Cisco’s smarts.
We understand that Cisco is already working with Microsoft to integrate their DNA spaces services into the newly announced Microsoft Places bringing intelligence and analytics on how meeting spaces are used. This forms a major part of Cisco’s Smart Buildings initiative.
Cisco is giving additional flexibility and choice whilst bringing innovation to Microsoft Teams.
Want to know more?
With the digital ink still drying on the announcement, Cisilion is here to help our customers think (or re-think) and plan about how this may impact their meeting spaces, remote work and collaboration roadmaps.
Speak with Cisilion today to find out more about your interoperability journey from Cisco Webex to Microsoft Teams or how to achieve seamless interoperability between the two platforms.