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WebEx integration with Spark advances Cisco UC

Cisco combines mobile and Web collaboration with Spark and WebEx integration.

Cisco's recent WebEx integration with Spark is expected to let WebEx users easily move online meetings to the mobile-first, cloud-based collaboration application.

The WebEx integration, announced last week, means users of the browser-based, Web conferencing application will be able to launch a Spark session using the WebEx meeting title, said Eric Lerner, lead product manager for Spark. Within Spark, participants will be able to have discussions in chat rooms, conduct video conferencing and share documents.

The WebEx integration is the first step Cisco has made to "harmonize" its three primary collaboration applications: Jabber, Spark and WebEx, according to Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. Cisco announced plans to tie the products together when it launched the test version of Spark, called Project Squared, last November.

"The move to integrate WebEx into Spark is their first step in getting to that end state," Lazar said. "It's an evolution."

New Spark features

In an effort to provide Spark users with a more organized digital space, Cisco also launched features that include filters for rooms and the ability to categorize messages by specific call events, current and ongoing meetings, and direct messages and calls.

Users can now invite guests who are not in a Spark room to participate in a video call. The guests who are invited don't have to be existing Spark users; they can click a link to be authenticated and join a group on a browser.

"Spark could be tied to a project, a team, an event, [or] anything you can tie to that space instead of an email box," Lazar said.

Though very different, WebEx and Spark are in the same "meeting family" and will become increasingly complementary, according to Bern Elliot, analyst at Gartner Inc., based in Stamford, Conn.

"From the beginning, it was clear they wanted to make the two synergistic," Elliot said. "It should make it easier for WebEx users who want to use Spark, and, similarly, it will make it easier for users of Spark to leverage and use WebEx."

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