By Irwin Lazar / VP and Service Director of Nemertes Research
Cisco’s 2018 acquisition of BroadSoft highlights the growing trend toward cloud-based communications. Prior to the acquisition, Cisco’s cloud strategy was two-fold:
- Hosted Collaboration Service, a platform that partners can leverage to build their own cloud-based offerings,
- Cisco Spark calling – a Cisco-hosted service designed primarily for small-medium-businesses offering simple calling features available through the Spark team collaboration app.
Post-acquisition, Cisco has modified and broadened their cloud calling offering. HCS remains unchanged while Cisco Spark calling has evolved into a new set of BroadSoft-powered Unified Communications-as-as-Service (UCaaS) offerings:
- Cisco Webex Calling (delivered by VARs),
- Cisco BroadCloud Calling (delivered by service providers).
Each of these services offers licensing options providing access to calling, Webex Meetings for audio, video, and web conferencing, and Webex Teams for team collaboration. All services are capable of supporting not just small-medium businesses, but large organizations as well.
Today, about 35.7% of organizations only use on-premises-based calling, while 27.4% use a mix of on-premises and either UCaaS or hosted. Of those using on-premises platforms, 32.1% are evaluating a move to cloud, while 11.1% have committed already to move to Cloud.
With either HCS or Webex calling options, Cisco on-premises customers have a choice as to how they go to Cloud. Those with large deployments of Cisco’s on-premises Unified Communications Manager (UCM) for both voice and video are likely to find HCS as the most attractive option as it typically means a shift of the backend calling servers from on-premises to a hosted service, with little to no disruption of existing endpoints and application integrations. Those with a less complex and/or large Cisco on-prem environment may find Webex Calling or BroadCloud Calling to be more attractive as typically UCaaS is less expensive, though less customizable than HCS.
A key factor in migration success, regardless of whether moving to HCS or BroadSoft-powered UCaaS is planning for migration of current methods for provisioning, change management, and providing self-service for existing UCM users. Cisco providers that offer integrated tools will deliver an easier migration approach in shifting users to the cloud. Those evaluating Cisco cloud-based options should conduct due diligence, evaluating a provider’s ability to adapt current provisioning methods, including any integrations between HR tools, portals, or other customer-facing tools for account administration and management. They should also ensure that administration tools provision not just calling, but the full suite of Cisco products including Webex Meetings and Webex Teams.
Thanks to the acquisition of BroadSoft, Cisco on-premises customers have a new, and wider variety of options for moving to the cloud. Evaluate HCS, Webex Calling and BroadCloud Calling for their applicability to your environment, considering the need for customization, to minimize disruption, and to ensure that no matter which approach you take, you can simplify provisioning, administration, and change management.