Cisco shows user-first focus with new collaboration tech

It’s Cisco’s annual Collaboration Summit this week and today the company had a flurry of announcements that not only showcase some new technology but also hint at Cisco’s next direction.

If you’ve followed Cisco at all in the past few years, you’ll be familiar with its architecture approach to solutions. And, the much the technology it announced today corresponds to its Collaboration Edge architecture. A design for collaboration infrastructure that specifically addresses mobility and cloud, opening up existing network setups for technology that can come in over the top while maintaining security.

Which brings us to Cisco Expressway. A new collaboration gateway that in its simplest form, eliminates the need for a VPN (virtual private network), while offering the same level of security. It opens up tools like video, voice, instant messaging and presence to employees that are outside the enterprise firewall. The need for a separate VPN is sidestepped by making connections session-based and connecting devices via Cisco Jabber for smartphones, tablets and desktops.

Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco

Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco

In that same vein, Cisco announced Jabber Guest, that uses the same security functionality as Expressway to enable guest access to users outside the organization, like a customer or business partner, while they collaborate with users inside the organization. The technology could give business the ability to add voice, video and data sharing to their websites — in the same way as WebRTC. In fact, Jabber Guest has been built to support the WebRTC standard.

Cisco also announced a new telepresence endpoint, the MX300 today. It looks like the company has taken a lot of industrial design cues from popular consumer products to craft the MX300. While the MX series has been around for a little while (we watched a press conference on one this summer at the Rogers Cup), it appears Cisco is serious about delivering an endpoint that is as nice to look at as it is functional.

In a pre-briefing, we were told the MX300 is particularly easy to install, and has four-way conference capability. It’s H.264 SVC ready, features 1080p and users can even connect it to another display to extend its functionality. Cisco is prepping the MX300 for availability starting in December.

Prior to today’s announcement, we got a chance to hear Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager of its Collaboration Group, Rowan Trollope, who said a lot of these Cisco technologies are being driven forward by the power of the user in the enterprise. He said that to have technology deployed in enterprise today, it has to be user-centric, when in the past it was the IT-department that was put at the core. The change, he said, was being fueled by a new generation of user that had access to technology that is as good or better than what is being given to them at their office.

Building on that notion, Trollope advised us to watch for Cisco to move forward by continuing to building for the user first, emphasizing mobility and deploying through the cloud whenever it can.

Author: Christopher Rogers

Christopher (@rc_rogers) is Editor at WRLWND. Previously, he was senior staff writer for Channel Insider Canada and IT in Canada. His work has also appeared in Information Week Canada, CRN Canada and Biotechnology Focus. When he's not writing and talking about technology he can usually be found reading good books and drinking too much coffee.

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