Cisco Revamps Collaboration Line With New Video Systems, Business Edition Platform


Cisco Wednesday unveiled a series of updates to its video system and endpoint lines, along with a new version of its Business Edition collaboration platform, in a move the networking giant called the most significant refresh of its collaboration line in the past three years.

As part of the release, Cisco introduced new TelePresence MX endpoints, video software and Business Edition (BE) 7000, a scaled-out version of BE targeted at larger enterprise customers.

According to Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Cisco's Collaboration business, the new products are aimed at giving organizations of all sizes, and all budgets, access to high-quality video and collaboration technologies.

[Related: Collaboration Commitment? Cisco SMB Partners Not Feeling The Love]

"Our belief is that the experience is first. Anyone can build a solution that is low cost, but not anyone can build a solution that's low cost and has an incredible experience," Trollope said during a conference call with reporters earlier this week. "And that's what you are going to see today from us."

On the video side, Cisco is rolling out a second-generation version of its TelePresence MX200 endpoint for smaller-size conference rooms, along with new TelePresence MX700 and MX800 endpoints for medium- to larger-size rooms. Cisco said the revamped MX200, which starts at $17,900, is a 42-inch unit with embedded four-way multiparty conferencing. It's designed for smaller offices, with Cisco saying MX200 deployment times take an average of just eight minutes.

The TelePresence MX700 and MX800 endpoints are higher end, starting at $49,900, and are designed for larger organizations that need to connect distributed teams over video. According to Cisco, the 55-inch MX700 and 70-inch MX800 are the first endpoints in the industry to support next-generation H.265 video coding, meaning they require less bandwidth to run.

"That is really providing future bandwidth efficiency," said Snorre Kjesbu, vice president and general manager for Cisco's Collaboration Endpoint Group, during the conference call earlier this week. "You can now run full HD 1,080p/60 at half of the bandwidth that you used to be able to do."

Another new product targeted at the SMB segment is the Cisco TelePresence SX10 Quick Set, a plug-and-play system starting at $3,999 that is designed to let smaller organizations leverage the video hardware they already have in place. "It can basically turn any flat-screen TV into a collaboration system," Kjesbu said.

As for software, Cisco introduced the TelePresence SX80, a video codec the company said is ideal for integrators looking to equip large spaces with video functionality. The SX80 also supports H.265 and can be used with up to three screens. It's priced at $17,900.

Tim Savage, principal and managing director at ENS Group, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Cisco partner, said he was glad to see Cisco investing so heavily in its video line, given the rise in video adoption he expects to see in his customer base over the next few years.  

"I think video is the next email," Savage told CRN. "That's where I see a lot of growth coming from, and I really do believe video will become ubiquitous in our environments."

Savage also said he was excited to start offering a new technology Cisco launched called Intelligent Proximity, which can wirelessly share slide presentations and other materials being shown on a larger video conference screen with users' mobile devices.

Cisco said the solution uses system-based device pairing to "sense" when users enter a conference room with a smartphone or tablet, and then sends those users a request to ask if they want to pair their devices with the bigger conference screen. Intelligent Proximity also can allow users to review previously shared slides on their mobile devices, Cisco said, without having to ask the presenter to go back.

"I think those are the things that really make Cisco shine," Savage said. "For us, as a partner, to be able to go out and show [Intelligent Proximity] to our clients -- the 'wow factor' goes a long way sometimes in closing a deal. And Cisco always gives us the 'wow factor.'"

NEXT: Cisco's New BE7000, Updated BE6000