The annual Enterprise Connect conference (#EC16) was held March 7-10 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, attracting nearly 100,000 attendees from channel IT companies, IT manufacturers, and the end-user community.
Cisco’s Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Collaboration and IoT (Internet of Things), spoke at the event and introduced attendees to Cisco Spark, an all-in-one communications solution designed for small to midsize organizations and available through the Cisco cloud. “Spark brings enterprise-class telephony, messaging, and web and video conferencing together in a simple, secure and complete service,” said Trollope.
Cisco also announced it is setting aside $150 million in developer funds to help partners and third-party developers build on top of the Spark platform, which is built with an open API (application program interface).
Cisco’s acquisition of unstructured search company Synata was another important announcement at the event. “Advances in deep learning and artificial intelligence are making it possible for computers to predict what you want almost before you know it yourself,” says Trollope. “That’s what we want for Cisco Spark. We want it to be like that good friend who can finish your sentences. Super-fast and almost uncannily accurate. Synata solves the tricky problem of how you search something you can’t see — like encrypted data in the cloud.”
Gordon Scott, senior marketing development executive, and Mike Brooks, collaboration channel account specialist, Cisco, were also on hand to share their thoughts on Enterprise Connect and the Cisco Spark announcement.
“Cisco Spark represents a departure from Cisco on-premise and business-as-usual,” says Brooks. “It’s strictly cloud-driven and gives Cisco firm footing in companies with 250 and fewer employees.”
Scott contrasts Cisco Spark with Cisco HCS (hosted collaboration solution), which he says is too complex and cost-prohibitive for SMBs. “WebEx had basic meeting capabilities, but Cisco Spark fills a much-needed niche,” he says. “We also got a taste of the future at the show with video applications that allow users to layer on annotation tools and to get more out of their video experience. Spark’s open APIs make these kinds of apps possible.”
Collaboration in the cloud was the dominant theme at this year’s event, Scott and Brooks agree. “Companies are either going to have to jump in or be left behind,” says Brooks.
To learn more about Cisco Spark, check out the Cisco Collaboration Resource Center available from Ingram Micro.