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Working together: What the new Microsoft & Cisco collaboration means for you.

Some things just go together naturally.

Mac and cheese. Lennon & McCartney. Harry & Meghan.

That’s not always been the case however with Microsoft and Cisco, the two market leaders in the collaboration and communications space. In fact, many organizations have developed a mix-and-match of different technologies from these two – as well as other – providers as they seek to work smarter across the desktop and in meeting rooms.

Working together

Exciting news then with respective announcements from both Microsoft and Cisco that they are working together to make Microsoft Teams rooms and phone system interoperable with Cisco’s Webex Room devices and IP voice gateways.

To understand more, we catch up with two of the experts in Cloud Communications – the division of NTT specializing in unified communications solutions – to hear their views on the news.

From a Cisco point of view, here’s Martin Old, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Cisco UC&C, Cloud Communications.

Martin Old

“This is a very welcome development. Yes, there is already some interoperability – for example, with Cisco Webex Meetings, this can be embedded within Microsoft Teams – but this is a further evolution. Often, prospective clients will tell me, ‘When we host meetings using our Cisco meeting room system, people can easily join from any device; yet when we try to join meetings hosted on other platforms, we can’t because their systems aren’t compatible.’ It can certainly happen because Microsoft Teams doesn’t come with video bridging software ‘out of the box’. As such, users can be stuck with just a desktop experience, and not fully realize the full potential of their Cisco kit.

“If you think about it, when you are gathering people together for a meeting you really want to see everyone around the table. Your team and those on the other side, wherever they are. Video conferencing in meeting rooms offers a much better experience – a more focused environment free from interruptions and distractions – yet it’s not always easy to set-up.

Removing the barriers

“More technically-minded people might be able to connect as and when they want, but for regular users it can be quite difficult to troubleshoot – not exactly what you want when you’re trying to run a meeting smoothly. Often then, an organizer will opt for what they know will work, and this can mean a group of people sat all in the same office but separately at their own desks, while their Cisco equipment – a superb, highly-featured camera, and a fully integrated 70” screen, all set-up in a lovely meeting room – is not being used.

“This then is great news for non-techy users in that it promises to remove all the barriers. All the equipment can be used to its full potential and all the benefits of unified comms and collaboration can be realized.”

And from a Microsoft perspective? Here’s Elaine Murray, Head of Marketing for Microsoft UCaaS, Cloud Communications.

Elaine Murray

A landmark moment

“It’s very exciting news – a bit of a landmark moment.

“I’ve not really seen anything quite like this before between Microsoft and Cisco, and it’s set to make a huge difference for end-users because so many organizations have more than one collaboration platform, through legacy investments and historical decisions rather then choice.

“Often, users don’t get an optimal experience because they are confused over which platforms to use, and projects often end up split between different platforms. Teams is Microsoft’s fastest growing business application of all time and to be able to leverage this through Cisco room systems will only increase its popularity and enhance its adoption curve. 

Realize the full potential

“Soon you will be able to work on a project using Microsoft Teams, then record a video meeting using your Cisco devices, and yet keep it within your Microsoft Teams environment. It’s going to be very popular because of the increased ease-of-use day-to-day, and I’m very much looking forward to supporting customers with this launch. We’ll be able to help them make the most of any existing hardware investments whilst seamlessly integrating Microsoft Teams and using it to its full potential.

The intelligent workplace

“Cisco is effectively letting Microsoft in on its hardware systems, and Microsoft is giving Cisco access to the desktop environment. It’s win-win for both parties and for end-users too, removing even more barriers to smarter working and helping businesses create a more intelligent workplace.” 

So, there you have it – that these two market leaders are collaborating is surely great news.

It may not be as ‘moreish’ as mac and cheese, as surreal as Strawberry Fields Forever, nor as written in the stars like Harry & Meghan, but it does promise to be a hugely promising partnership with great benefits for organizations everywhere.

Watch this space for more on the launch or contact Martin or Elaine to find out now what it means for your business.

About the author

Simon Sanders is Social Media & Content Manager at the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. He has more than 20 years' experience as a creative marketer helping brands and organizations to tell their story, engage with existing and new audiences, and manage their reputation.

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