Cisco folds BroadSoft UC-One into Webex cloud

Cisco is looking to streamline its portfolio of UC apps, starting with the merger of BroadSoft UC-One and Webex Teams in the Cisco Webex cloud.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Cisco is encouraging service providers that sell BroadSoft cloud calling plans to move their unified communications client into the Cisco cloud, where the vendor plans to integrate that app with its Webex collaboration suite.

BroadSoft partners would continue to host their cloud PBX infrastructure through the BroadWorks program. But Cisco is offering them financial incentives to begin delivering BroadSoft's UC-One app from the Cisco Webex cloud.

Cisco plans to redesign the user interface of UC-One in its cloud to closely resemble that of the collaboration app Webex Teams. It will also add persistent messaging, file sharing and search features to the app, which will be federated with Webex Teams, so users can message across platforms.

Cisco plans to begin powering online meetings within UC-One using the Webex cloud and will make it possible to launch Webex Meetings from the app with one click. Partners can continue to deliver UC-One from their clouds, but won't get access to the same new features and Webex integration.

The initiative is one way that Cisco is looking to capitalize on its $1.9 billion acquisition of BroadSoft earlier this year. It could help the vendor increase usage of Webex Teams and sell more subscriptions to the Webex Meetings platform.

The arrangement should benefit BroadSoft service providers, too. They will still be able to brand the UC-One app with their colors and logo, but Cisco will handle the software updates and capital expenditures necessary to maintain the cloud infrastructure.  

At the BroadSoft Connections conference this week, Cisco told partners it would help them move into the midmarket by bundling Webex collaboration services with BroadSoft cloud calling plans.

Small businesses -- BroadSoft's traditional customer base -- typically don't need, or can't afford, collaboration suites like Webex. But midsize and large companies are increasingly looking to adopt team collaboration apps, like Webex Teams, Microsoft Teams or Slack.

Cisco has partnered with six service providers to begin selling a package that combines Webex Teams with BroadSoft's cloud PBX. That offer is available through Cisco's Collaboration Flex Plan, a subscription-based pricing model that bundles all unified communications (UC) services into a single bill.

Cisco works to combine features of UC apps  

The UC-One initiative is part of a broader effort within Cisco to streamline its UC apps. Cisco's acquisition of BroadSoft left the vendor with an overlapping set of collaboration products: Webex Teams, UC-One and Jabber, the client used with Cisco's on-premises PBX system and the cloud-based PBX in Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS). 

"You'll start seeing those clients come together," said Tom Puorro, vice president and general manager of Cisco's UC technology group. "The exception being we need to start applying the white-labeling functionality that you get in UC-One to the rest of the portfolio."

Behind the scenes, Cisco is working to combine the code bases of Jabber, Webex Teams and UC-One. That will let the company deliver similar feature sets -- based on the Webex Teams model of collaboration with persistent spaces, file sharing and search -- to all three apps.

In addition to Webex Teams, Cisco is expected to more closely integrate the online meetings service of Webex with UC-One, opening the door to the potential white-labeling of Webex by service providers.

"We want to blur those lines between a Cisco product and an SP [service provider] product," Puorro said.

Early next year, Cisco will make it possible to connect on-premises Cisco Unified Communications Manager systems with Webex Teams, turning that app into a softphone client. Later in 2019, Cisco will begin adding native cloud PBX features to the app by connecting it to BroadSoft and Cisco HCS clouds.

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