Cisco Jabber client gets tighter integration with Webex Teams

Cisco has redesigned the Cisco Jabber client to "look and feel like" Webex Teams, the latest step in the company's push to bring together its on-premises and cloud-based UC apps.

SAN DIEGO — Cisco has redesigned the unified communications client Cisco Jabber to "look nearly 100% like" Cisco Webex Teams as part of an ongoing initiative to unite its cloud- and premise-based collaboration apps.

The Jabber client and Webex Teams are now based on the same operating system, making it easier to federate the two apps so that users of each can message back and forth. The company made the announcement at the Cisco Live conference in San Diego.

Cisco's decision to continue investing in the Jabber client contrasts with Microsoft's hard pivot away from its legacy UC client, Skype for Business, in favor of cloud-based Microsoft Teams. Microsoft's heavy hand in pushing users to the cloud has irked some users.

"The Jabber-Teams interop is about bringing modernization and transformation to the Jabber base without them having to change," said Sri Srinivasan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's team collaboration group.

At the same time, a tighter integration between Cisco's on-premises and cloud-based apps should make it easier for customers to eventually switch from the former to the latter. It will let companies transition users from one app to the other without hampering communications.

"Cisco is quick to remind everyone that businesses can migrate at their own pace, recognizing both the growing adoption of the cloud and the slow adoption of some businesses," said Wayne Kurtzman, an analyst at IDC. "This part of the Cisco 'Bridges not Islands' strategy is very appealing to a variety of enterprises while making it harder for other solutions to compete."

The move may also underscore that Cisco has likely been more successful at selling Jabber than at selling Webex Teams. In a nine-month period between 2018 and 2019, Jabber grew from 36 million users to 45 million users, a 25% jump. But Cisco has so far declined to share any information about how many people are using Webex Teams.

"I think it's safe to assume that they probably have not been as successful in getting a lot of users to adopt Webex Teams," said Raúl Castañón-Martínez, an analyst at 451 Research. "But looking at it more optimistically, I think it's great they are making those technologies available to the Jabber users."

Cisco Jabber is used primarily with on-premises deployments of Cisco Unified Communications Manager. It is also used with Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution, a private cloud offering sold through service providers.

Cisco Jabber version 12.7, launching next month, will include tighter integrations with Microsoft Office 365, proximity-based pairing with video hardware, and more advanced messaging features, such as the ability to thread messages.

Integration ahead for XMPP messaging

Later this year, Cisco is planning to take the integration between Jabber and Webex Teams one step further by creating a link between Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) messaging and persistent messaging.

XMPP is used by Jabber -- messages disappear when users close the chat window. In contrast, persistent messages sent through Webex Teams are stored in the cloud and can be viewed again later. Currently, in order to enable messaging between Jabber and Webex Teams, businesses must bring Webex Teams' persistent cloud messaging to Jabber.

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