By Jim Lundy
Cisco held its annual Collaboration Summit in Los Angeles on October 13-15, 2012 and partners, customers and analysts were in attendance. To us it was all about Video (H.265), Customers, Webex and Content (Files). Like almost every Cisco event, the 2012 edition of Collaboration Summit was as polished and professional as any in recent memory. The big change this year was more involvement from Customers.
Customers did the Talking
Like Salesforce’s Dreamforce this year, Cisco had customers on-stage to talk about their use of Cisco products. Virgin Media was on via Telepresence and they talked about how they use Cisco Webex Social to collaborate. NBC Universal talked about Jabber and proceeded to give a live Jabber demo, which included a Jabber iPad video call to a colleague over a wireless connection. Video over wireless is never easy and the customer did the demo with no technical support.
Finally, the tour of Staples Center, which was across the street from the event, featured live demos of Cisco’s product digital signage offering, which is called Stadium Vision. Stadium Vision is a good example of leveraging lots of Cisco capabilities into a targeted Solution offering.
Video and H.265
Video is all the rage these days and the intersection of video with all forms of collaboration is here. While everyone is talking HD and H.264, Cisco showed a live demo of a prototype H.265 system (new Codec) and compared the throughput versus a production H.264 codec. Bottomline, the throughput appears to take less than half the bandwidth of H.264 while delivering the same or greater video resolution quality. We’ll note that H.265 specs are still in draft, but it looks like 2013 could see the initial rollouts of H.265 codecs.
While the big thunder was around the future of HD video and H.265 (see above), the event could have been called Webex, since different Webex offerings were there in force, including Messenger, Meetings, Telepesence and Social. First, the attendees could collaborate using WebEx Social Networking tool, which we found quite easy to use. Partners and customers seemed to be warming up to Webex Social, particularly given the ease of use of the new version.
The big news at the event was making Webex Web Conferencing available to customers in a full on-premise deployment model. We’ll discuss this more in a separate First Cut, but to us, this signals that Cisco is very focused on taking Microsoft on in the Collaboration battle (See Cisco Jabber vs Microsoft Lync First Cut). Suffice to say that the ROI of on-premise Web Conferencing is hard to beat.
Content and Files
In several of the Collaboration Summit Tracks, there were a fair number of discussions about Content. Cisco Show and Share (video sharing) is still alive and well and Pulse, the video search capability, looks slightly improved over previous versions.
One of the areas that was discussed and previewed was the upcoming beta of Webex Files, a new Cloud Content Management offering. Content and Collaboration have always been inter-related, but what we liked about the overview of Files was that the strategy appeared well thought out, especially with regard to Cloud. Other recent announcements, such as ChatterBox from Salesforce, were more hype than announcement. We’ll note, that Cisco did not announce Files, but they did discuss it in detail. Part of the reason for the clarity is that Cisco does run a real-time Cloud operation for Webex Web Conferencing. To quote them, there is no such thing as downtime. This realization of what they currently offer made the discussion around replicating content in their cloud a given.
A final thought on the conversations at Summit. The Lync vs Jabber debate was an under current at the Event. It was discussed during the evening social events and during the general sessions. The battle won’t be over for a while and Cisco still has work to do here. Overall though, Collaboration Summit was as good an event as any we’ve been to this fall.