When you hear the words "Cisco" and "video," chances are you think either "WebEx" or "telepresence." But Cisco collaboration group executives hope, "Spark" will instead -- or at least also -- be top of mind from this day forward.
During a collaboration innovation presentation at Cisco Live this morning, the execs made it clear that Spark is now as much about video meetings as it is about next-generation business messaging. No Jitter heard bits and pieces of the news earlier this week in a one-on-one conversation with Jens Meggers, VP and GM, Cloud Collaboration Technology Group. "Look," he told us, "we have kickass messaging in Spark, and over the next three months, we'll have kickass video."
He put it in terms of what Cisco calls its "dead simple strategy." Take the global, open and scalable cloud-based Spark platform, connect to the premises for hybrid capabilities, and top it off with all your communications and collaboration workloads. Let partners, customers, and users tap into existing Spark-branded experiences -- video included -- or build customized collaboration experiences on top of Spark using APIs.
For that video component, Cisco has created a software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to add Spark video capabilities to any apps with just a few lines of code. Using the Spark Video SDK, for example, cloud-based project management solutions provider Redbooth has integrated Spark video meeting capability within its task management suite. The Spark Video SDK is available in limited beta, Meggers told the Cisco Live audience this morning.
Apps are great, to be sure, but just thinking about supplementing video capabilities within the Spark app isn't enough for a global video infrastructure company like Cisco, Meggers said. It could -- and should -- get much more transformative than that, he added.
So, six months ahead of its year-end goal for doing so, Cisco has updated the firmware for all of its video endpoints -- the SX, MX, and DX series -- with the Spark Room OS introduced late last year. With Spark Room OS, any of these video endpoints can connect directly to the Spark Cloud -- "no on-prem call control, no hardware, no expressway [for connectivity]," Meggers told the Cisco Live crowd this morning as he connected a brand-new DX80 to the Spark Cloud in a matter of moments. This native Spark connectivity and integration is available immediately, he added.
Of course, between all those video endpoints sits a network, and for global companies, that network needs to support high-quality video at scale around the world. Toward that end, Meggers unveiled the global Spark Video Cloud, which today comprises core media and call processing nodes hosted in 12 WebEx data centers around the world.
But with a goal of ensuring a sub-150 millisecond delay for anyone participating in a Spark video meeting, Cisco will grow the video cloud over the next six months by bringing on partner data centers and enterprise media nodes. As Meggers concluded, "We want to bring video to every region, every country, every city, every enterprise, and actually every person around the world."