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Cisco brings BroadSoft cloud PBX to Webex Teams

The integration of the BroadSoft cloud PBX with the messaging and meetings app Webex Teams gives midsize Cisco customers a clearer migration path to a cloud-only UC environment.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Cisco has integrated BroadSoft cloud PBX with the cloud-based messaging and meetings app Webex Teams, an offer that should appeal to small and midsize businesses that want to move all unified communications to the cloud.

The integration of BroadSoft cloud PBX and Webex Teams is the first significant product development to result from Cisco's $1.9 billion acquisition of BroadSoft earlier this year. BroadSoft powers nearly half of cloud telephony seats worldwide through resale partnerships with service providers.

The move follows Microsoft's announcement that it would let businesses route third-party calling services into Microsoft Teams. Microsoft has also been aggressively developing the cloud-based app's native telephony features.

Cisco is targeting the PBX-enabled Webex Teams product at businesses with between 100 and 1,000 employees, although the vendor said BroadSoft's multi-tenant calling cloud was currently supporting some customers with tens of thousands of seats.

The integration links Webex Teams with a calling app that Cisco developed using the technology of BroadSoft's UC-One app. The new calling app, which integrates with Microsoft Outlook and enterprise directories, will launch when users initiate a call through Webex Teams.

Cisco is making the service available through service provider partners, who will be able to brand the calling app as their own. Businesses can now purchase a cloud subscription that bundles calling, messaging, meetings and collaboration through Cisco's Collaboration Flex Plan.

In the future, Cisco plans to establish back-end links between Webex Teams and the cloud calling infrastructure of both BroadSoft and Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) partners, said Tom Puorro, vice president and general manager of Cisco's unified communications (UC) technology group. Those links would let Webex Teams users access advanced telephony features without having to launch a separate app.

BroadSoft cloud PBX diversifies Cisco Webex cloud

The integration plugs a gap in Cisco's cloud portfolio. Previously, Cisco customers that wanted to move their on-premises UC to the cloud had to pay for a private, hosted cloud from a service provider running Cisco HCS.

Hosted cloud services are generally more expensive than multi-tenant clouds like the one offered by BroadSoft. Also, the Cisco HCS platform doesn't natively integrate with Webex or Webex Teams. In contrast, Microsoft's cloud UC and collaboration products are all packaged within Office 365.

"One of the challenges that Cisco has had from a cloud strategy is they haven't had a really good story to tell for customers that wanted to go to 100% cloud," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. "Now, they have the ability to say to customers, 'We can deliver everything through the Cisco cloud.'"

Cisco is launching the Webex Teams PBX in partnership with six service providers in the United States, including West, Orange, NWN and CenturyLink. The service will support calling in 19 countries in 2018, and it will continue to expand throughout 2019.

Cisco announced the news at the BroadSoft Connections conference this week in Hollywood, Fla.

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