This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Enterprise Connect 2018 conference coverage

Cisco-BroadSoft cloud PBX to bring telephony to Spark

Cisco plans to use the BroadSoft cloud PBX to open Spark to the public telephone network. The PBX came with the Cisco-BroadSoft acquisition completed last month.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cisco plans to use its recently acquired BroadSoft cloud PBX to let customers make phone calls through Spark, the company's team collaboration software.

The move could make Spark a stronger competitor to Spark's most significant rival, Microsoft Teams. Microsoft added phone calling to Teams late last year.

The Cisco-BroadSoft cloud PBX is powerful enough to run "an IBM or the U.S. Senate," Mark Straton, a vice president of marketing at Broadsoft, said during an interview at the Enterprise Connect conference.

"[Spark] will be a really strong offer because it will have arguably the best collaboration and meetings capabilities, with the best calling capabilities," Straton said.

Having a PBX (private branch exchange) system behind a product like Spark or Teams means users can make calls through the public telephone system. Also, a cloud-based PBX provides enterprises with a management-free option.

Spark has limited voice features today that are only available in the United States. With BroadSoft's platform, Cisco could provide a full-fledged cloud PBX system that's available in 20 countries.

In February, Cisco completed the $1.9 billion purchase of BroadSoft, which primarily licenses the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platform to communication service providers. cloud service providers then sell the service to mostly small and medium-sized businesses.

The acquisition left Cisco with a somewhat unwieldy collection of products that overlapped with Cisco's technology.  At Enterprise Connect, Cisco started to shed light on how it plans to merge the two portfolios.

Cisco plans to absorb CC-One, BroadSoft's contact center platform for service providers, into its contact center business unit, Straton said. BroadSoft, meanwhile, will make Spark and Cisco's online meeting software, WebEx, accessible through UC-One, which is BroadSoft's online user interface for multiple UC services.

Cisco has not set a timeline for any of the above changes to the Cisco-BroadSoft portfolio, but analysts expect the company to release more details at conferences in April and November.

Cisco-BroadSoft plans to widen availability of UC-One

Also at Enterprise Connect, BroadSoft announced that it would make UC-One available to BroadWorks customers via BroadCloud, its UC software-as-a-service platform. Before, service providers using BroadWorks had to host UC-One in their clouds.

BroadCloud and BroadWorks differ mostly on how they are managed. The latter runs in the data centers of service providers, which are responsible for maintaining the UCaaS product. BroadSoft, on the other hand, runs and manages BroadCloud in its data center.

Only around 20% of cloud service providers offering BroadWorks have also gone through the additional work of deploying UC-One in their data centers to sell it as a separate managed service. By making UC-One available as-a-service, BroadSoft hopes to increase adoption of the platform, Straton said.

UC-One is essential to many end-users because it provides a single interface for accessing a variety of services from any device. An all-in-one interface is prized by companies because it increases worker productivity, analysts said. Without a unifying interface, workers have to launch and close separate applications.

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