Brian Riggs
Brian is a member of Ovum's Enterprise team, tracking emerging trends, technologies, and market dynamics in the unified communications and...
Read Full Bio >>

Brian Riggs | June 11, 2014 |


Cloud-Based Video Conferencing Makeover: Cisco

Cloud-Based Video Conferencing Makeover: Cisco With CMR Cloud, Cisco is recommitting itself to the market for hosted video conferencing services.

With CMR Cloud, Cisco is recommitting itself to the market for hosted video conferencing services.

This is the second in my trio of short blogs on the sudden activity in the area of cloud-based video conferencing services. The previous one was about LifeSize. The next one will be about Dimension Data and Teliris. But this time around let's look at Cisco. Same format as before: three sections that examine what each offered before when it comes to a hosted video conferencing service, what they'll offer next, and what the change means.

What Cisco offered before:
WebEx Telepresence (née Cisco Callway service), a hosted video conferencing service that Tandberg developed and Cisco brought to market in 2011. It is based on Cisco equipment deployed in Cisco-operated data centers and offered as a Cisco-provided service that channel partners resell.

There are two editions of the service, one just for Jabber clients ($29 per user per month or $300 per year prepaid) and the other a premium service for physical video end points ($99 per endpoint per month or $999 per year prepaid). Options include outbound voice dialing ($9 per month) and a bridge to support third-party video systems ($249-$499 per month depending on number of ports). Resolution is 720p on Jabber, or up to 1080p with the premium service. Dial-in telephone users are supported via the optional bridging service. Desktop sharing is also supported.

What Cisco will offer next:
Collaboration Meeting Rooms (CMR), which has three deployment options: Premises (both WebEx Meeting Server and telepresence components deployed on-premises), Hybrid (telepresence components on premises, WebEx as a service), and Cloud (both WebEx and telepresence as a service). Since this blog is part of a series about hosted video conferencing services, we'll focus the last one.

CMR Cloud is an add-on to the WebEx service, allowing WebEx to support room-based video conferencing systems. Like WebEx Telepresence, CMR Cloud is a cloud-based service hosted by Cisco. Both support Cisco and third-party standards-based video endpoints, high-definition video (720p30 in the case of CMR), and meet-me conferences.

Unlike WebEx Telepresence, CMR Cloud will be available globally (WebEx Telepresence was North America-only); connects up to 25 video conferencing mobile, desktop or room-based systems (WebEx Telepresence connected up to 9 video end points); supports scheduled conferences (WebEx Telepresence doesn't); supports immersive telepresence rooms (WebEx Telepresence, despite its name, doesn't); and actually uses the WebEx network as part of its delivery mechanism (WebEx Telepresence, despite its name, doesn't.)

CMR Cloud pricing has not yet been announced. Cisco will sell CMR Cloud both direct and through the channel. Awkward, but Cisco sells other stuff both direct and indirect, so no huge surprise there.

What it means:
First, with CMR Cloud, Cisco is recommitting itself to the market for hosted video conferencing services. WebEx Telepresence was central enough to Cisco's UC strategy for the company to rebrand it a couple years back and revamp the various plans that customers could order. But at some point, WebEx Telepresence was deemphasized and the service fell into obscurity compared with other Cisco offerings. With CMR Cloud, Cisco can take another shot at positioning itself as a viable provider of hosted video conferencing services, this time by associating its cloud-based video conferencing directly with its wildly successful hosted Web conferencing service.

Second, with CMR Cloud, Cisco will help WebEx resellers and providers of HCS-based services quickly and easily add a hosted video conferencing service to their portfolio. Rather than build their own service, they can resell Cisco's, bundling it with network, security, consulting, and other services. And providing a service that lets room-based video systems easily participate in WebEx sessions will help resellers and other Cisco partners deliver a clear value-add to their customers subscribing to WebEx through them. It will also let WebEx resellers better differentiate themselves from competitors selling Web conferencing services that cannot support room-based video conferencing systems.

Third, with CMR Cloud, Cisco will directly compete with partners, mainly telcos, that already have hosted video conferencing services in their portfolios or are in the process of developing them. There are at least two counterpoints to this "Cisco-competes-with-partners" concern. One is that Cisco has been competing with them since it launched Callway in 2011. So nothing is really new here. The other argument is that CMR Cloud will be positioned as a WebEx add-on, and WebEx doesn't compete directly against telcos' hosted video conferencing services. I see the reasoning, but whenever a vendor offers its own hosted service – in this case hosted video conferencing – it necessarily competes with providers that are also offering them. As Cisco – or any other vendor for that matter – builds out its portfolio of cloud services, it's going to compete with some of its partners that already offer them.

Fourth, with the introduction of CMR Cloud, Cisco will have two cloud-based video conferencing services that IMHO are not exactly complementary to one another. Rather, one is more scalable, has a more robust feature set, and is being promoted much more actively, while the other is less scalable, less feature-rich, and increasingly obscure.

Finally, at the risk of repeating myself, CMR Cloud is tied directly to WebEx. As CMR Cloud is currently positioned, a customer can't have it without also having WebEx. This has pros and cons.

Pros: There's a boatload of WebEx customers out there, and with CMR there will be a cloud-based way of connecting them to room-based systems. Cons: Not everyone is using WebEx, so Cisco seems to be limiting CMR Cloud's addressable market to businesses that either already have WebEx licenses or are willing to buy them in order to adopt CMR as a hosted video conferencing service. While some WebEx customers will appreciate CMR as an add-on feature, others will not necessarily want their room-based video conferencing service tied directly to their Web conferencing service. Cisco better have an option for non-WebEx customers or CMR Cloud may prove to be a rather niche product.

Follow Brian Riggs on Twitter and Google+!
Brian Riggs on Google+


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.