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Cisco, Ericsson deliver Spark services over fixed, mobile networks

By the end of the year, Cisco and Ericsson will release technology that lets service providers deliver Spark services over fixed or mobile networks.

Cisco and telecom equipment maker Ericsson have introduced a joint product that lets service providers deliver Cisco Spark collaboration services over fixed or mobile networks.

The partners unveiled the Collaboration Mobile Convergence (CMC) service on Feb. 26, a day before the start of the four-day Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The companies demoed the product for delivering Spark services at the show.

CMC will benefit service providers that use the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), which is the vendor's unified-communications-as-a-service product. HCS lets service providers host several Cisco products, including Spark, Jabber team messaging and WebEx video conferencing.

Dialing into Spark services

With CMC, users can access Spark features -- such as messaging, file sharing and video conferencing -- by dialing a number on their mobile phone's native dialer, according to the vendors. A swipe of the mobile phone's screen can move the call to a desktop PC or Spark-supporting video conferencing system.

The concept of using a single phone number to access services through multiple devices is similar to Verizon One Talk, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

"Where these [services] get really interesting is they enable individuals to get rid of their desktop phones altogether and use their mobile device as their only enterprise communications endpoint," Lazar said.

CMC combines Cisco's cloud-based Spark services with Ericsson's Voice over Long-Term Evolution products, which let mobile network operators place calls over 4G data networks. The CMC system also provides "seamless handover" of voice calls across 2G, 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi networks.

Ease-of-use features -- along with simplified deployment and security -- are becoming more of a competitive advantage, as the UC services that vendors deliver to endpoints start looking the same, said Alan Lepofsky, an analyst at Constellation Research Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif.

"With little differentiation in end-user features, organizations often base their purchase decision on IT-related administration, deployment and security options," Lepofsky said. "The goal is to make these areas seamless across the software, devices and network."

Cisco and Ericsson plan to release CMC by the end of the year.

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