5 New Cisco Collaboration Plays Aimed At Driving Sales, Recurring Revenue For Partners

Cisco Upping Its Collaboration Game

The networking giant is diving deeper into unified communications and collaboration by launching several new offerings at Cisco Partner Summit 2016 aimed at driving sales and recurring revenue for partners.

"What we're doing in the collaboration business, and what we're going to continue to do, is make our products more and more available, more affordable, and do more things," said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's IoT and Collaboration Technology Group, on stage during Cisco Partner Summit in San Francisco in front of thousands of channel partners. "The opportunity for you in collaboration is roughly 20 times bigger than what you're currently doing. Twenty times bigger across the board."

Here are the five new collaboration offerings that partners can take to market today.

Cisco Business Edition 4000

Cisco launched a new premise-based, cloud-managed telephony platform targeting the SMB market. The new Cisco Business Edition 4000 provides affordable telephony and voice mail for up to 200 devices, according to Trollope.

"We've gotten such great traction and adoption with [the current Business Edition 6000] technology, we want to continue to drive that down and make it even more available to our customers," said Trollope. "The [Business Edition 4000] is priced at $4,995. So really a terrific price, very easy to configure and an awesome product."

Management Portal For Business Edition 6000

Cisco heeded the call from channel partners to make its current Business Edition 6000 product simpler and easier, according to Trollope, rolling out a management portal that simplifies the configuration process for the Business Edition 6000.

"We are launching a new management portal for [the Business Edition 6000] that automates, basically, the configuration your customer would have to do, which reduces the total configuration time by 60 percent," said Trollope. "So a brand-new [Business Edition 6000] management portal for you increase [sales] volume there."

Cisco Spark Flex Plan

The new Cisco Spark Flex Plan is a software subscription license that partners can sell starting as low as $21 per user, per month. The plan lets customers choose a mix of on-premise and cloud-based collaboration services that they can change at any time without additional costs.

"We wanted to introduce a new revolutionary way to buy our collaboration products so that we could totally change the collaboration industry," said Trollope. "The plan is a single per-user, per-month subscription which gives you access -- not only to Spark and all the cool technology we have in the cloud -- but everything we have in our premises-based portfolio on a per-user, per-month basis. Which means that when you sell your customer this, they can be licensed for all of their existing Cisco kit – as much premise stuff as they want to use, per user, per month -- we license it to them."

Spark Depot Marketplace

Cisco created a new platform, the Spark Depot Marketplace, which is a marketplace for all of the applications and integrations that other vendors have built on top of Cisco Spark.

"Basically, we've integrated with every major platform that counts and more. So they are all available directly in Spark at Depot.CiscoSpark.com," said Trollope. "So as you sell Spark to your customers, it can plug in natively and naturally into their existing business processes and all the tools they use."

There already are more than 60 integrations with the Spark platform, including Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, DropBox, Box, New Relic, Twitter and Google Calendar.

Hybrid Media Services

Cisco's new Hybrid Media Services gives customers the option to deploy Cisco Spark meetings on-premise, in the cloud or both at the same time. The service automatically determines the best way to deliver the meeting for each user – from on-premise if the users are local or from the cloud.

Trollope said the service -- which can be installed and set up in minutes -- improves the quality of audio and video, keeps media on-premise for privacy, and lowers internet bandwidth costs.

Jabber, WebEx Not Going Away

Although not a new offering, Cisco reconfirmed its commitment to WebEx and Jabber.

"We actually increased our R&D investment in Jabber and we're adding features with IOS 10," said Trollope.

He said growth for Cisco's stand-alone meeting product, WebEx, is "off the charts."

"[WebEx] is doing fabulous. So we're going to continue to have WebEx as a stand-alone meeting product in the cloud," said Trollope. "We're not stopping or derailing anything that we're doing with Jabber or WebEx. I want to make sure that's very, very clear to everyone."