The change to Webex Teams from Spark, what’s the difference?

Cisco Spark was only just over two and a half years old when Cisco announced that a rebrand was taking place, and that Spark would be becoming Webex Teams and rolled into a new collaboration group that contains the well-known Webex service and another newly created offering in Webex Calling.  Cisco also have unified all of the Spark hardware devices to Webex devices, to make things easy for the user to understand. We will discuss these in a future blog.

As a video conferencing managed service supplier and systems integrator, we will be looking on at Webex Teams and Webex.

Spark was created to be an application that allowed for continuous teamwork, combining video, persistent chat, file sharing and white boarding all from the same place. If you are not sure of all the benefits that Spark brought to enterprise businesses then click through to our series of blogs on Spark.

Whether it was launched as a reaction to Slack or was in planning is a question only Cisco can answer, but it certainly put Cisco straight into the running within the new collaboration application space.

So, whilst many have written that the convergence of Webex and Spark is just a rebrand favouring the better known Webex name, Cisco themselves say that significant technical work has gone into the combination of the platforms that will deliver several customer benefits including:

All meetings are Webex meetings. Users can connect to the same meeting using Webex or Webex Teams, where before they were limited to joining Spark meeting from Spark and Webex meetings from Webex, with no interoperability. This is a good move by Cisco and will allow companies to evaluate Webex Teams if they are current Webex users to see how the extra functionality could be used by employees. This is because all meetings are now using the Webex backbone IP network. This IP network provides global transport between customer ISPs and meeting servers, optimising for video quality. These servers are both in public clouds and in Cisco data centres interconnected by the Webex backbone. This means that customers get the best quality, lowest latency experience possible.

Webex Teams also supports a new type of meeting, aptly called the a Webex team meeting. This new type of meeting provides a highly secure easy to use meeting within a space that has been created by the participants.

Analytics for both Webex and Webex teams share a single tool – Control Hub. Before, they had separate analytical tools with differing levels of functionality.

Spark’s hybrid capabilities of allowing customers to deploy on-premises servers for audio, video and content has been extended to include all Webex meetings. What was called hybrid media services has been renamed video mesh in recognition of its ability to connect users joining from SIP endpoints, cloud connected video endpoints and the Webex Teams application.

All Webex Teams users reside in a single, shared cloud instance, each with a single account. Cisco has eliminated guest accounts, disabling the ability for users to share information outside of the company in a way that cannot be tracked by compliance tools. With the single account, if someone tries to share any information it can be detected and remediated.

The combination of Spark with Webex is more than just a marketing rebrand. Cisco have a strategy for where they see the future of collaboration going, and this is just the first step. In fact, Cisco have just launched a redesign on the Webex platform based on user feedback from over 6 million minutes of usage. To talk more about Webex, Webex Teams, Cisco or collaboration in general, use our contact form, call us on +44 (0)1276 706 706, or email and book in a chat with one of our experts.