Cisco Brings Flexible Payments, App Site to Spark Collaboration Tool
The company is expanding its enterprise communications capabilities at a time when Microsoft, Facebook and others are rolling out new offerings.Cisco Systems wants to make it easier for tech partners to integrate their products with the networking vendor's Spark collaboration platform and for customers to buy the technology for use in the cloud, on premises or in a mixture of both. At the company's Partner Summit this week, Cisco officials unveiled new capabilities for Spark, which the company has quickly grown from a mobile communications apps to a platform for the bulk of Cisco's cloud- and on-premises enterprise communications offerings, including video conferencing, document sharing, voice communications, presence and chat. The new capabilities include a flexible payment plan to make it simpler for organizations to buy the collaboration services and a site where customers can see business applications that are integrated with Spark. The new features are designed to make it easier for customers to embrace the platform, according to Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Collaboration Business Unit. "We are completely reinventing how the world connects and communicates," Trollope wrote in a post on the company blog. "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."
The new Spark capabilities come during a week that put a focus on the growing demand for enterprise collaboration technologies. At an event in New York City, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled Microsoft Teams, a collaboration tool that brings together such features as chat, meeting, notes and activity notifications, and integrates with such familiar applications as Office 365. Microsoft Teams reportedly has a feel similar to Slack's successful collaboration technology, and officials with Slack acknowledged the launch of Teams with a full-page ad in the New York Times and on its website telling Microsoft that they are "genuinely excited to have some competition" and giving advice on what customers want in their collaboration services.