Cisco’s Mobility Chaos

We have all seen the Cisco mobile post by Michael Smith about how he was underwhelmed by Microsoft’s Lync mobile solution or the Cisco versus Microsoft post by Zeus but what are they not telling you about the Cisco’s solution? What does Cisco not want you to know?

To quote Michaels blog, “With Cisco Jabber, the UC capabilities are consistent across PC, Mac, tablets and phones.” But is it really? Lets take a look.

Cisco’s PC and MAC Story

While this blog post is mainly focused on Mobility I just wanted to highlight that Cisco’s patch work of clients tie you to their only available web conferencing solution and how Michaels statement really is a stretching the truth. And to be exact if I were to remove WebEx because Michael distinctly calls out Jabber it looks some what of a different story

With WebEx support:

  Windows Mac
Presence CUPC Jabber for Mac
IM CUPC Jabber for Mac
VoIP CUPC Jabber for Mac
Voicemail CUPC Jabber for Mac
Video CUPC or WebEx WebEx only
Desktop Sharing CUPC Jabber for Mac
App Sharing WebEx WebEx
Web Conferencing WebEx WebEx
Federation IM/P Only IM/P Only
VPN Less Connect No No

Without WebEx:

  Windows Mac
Presence CUPC Jabber for Mac
IM CUPC Jabber for Mac
VoIP CUPC Jabber for Mac
Voicemail CUPC/Jabber Jabber for Mac
Video CUPC/Jabber No
Desktop Sharing CUPC/Jabber Jabber for Mac
App Sharing No No
Web Conferencing No No
Federation IM/P Only IM/P Only
VPN Less Connect No No

So, no WebEx cloud = no Web Conferencing. Or do we need another client for that or is that another “it’s coming” moments?

Cisco’s Smartphone and Tablet Consistency

Below is what Cisco Jabber currently offers across the most popular platforms.

  iPhone iPad Android Phone/Tablet
Presence Jabber IM for iPhone No ( iPhone client) No
IM Jabber IM for iPhone No ( iPhone client) No
VoIP Jabber Voice for iPhone No ( iPhone client) Jabber for Android
Voicemail Jabber Voice for iPhone No ( iPhone client) No
Video WebEx for iPhone WebEx for iPad No
Desktop
Sharing
WebEx for iPhone
(view only)
WebEx for iPhone
(view only)
WebEx for Android
(View Only)
App
Sharing
WebEx for iPhone
(view only)
WebEx for iPhone
(view only)
WebEx for Android
(View Only)
Web Conferencing WebEx for iPhone WebEx for iPad WebEx for Android
(View Only)

 

WP7 BB Symbian
Presence No Jabber IM for BB Cisco Mobile for Nokia
IM No Jabber IM for BB Cisco Mobile for Nokia
VoIP No BBMVC Client Cisco Mobile for Nokia
Voicemail No No Cisco Mobile for Nokia
Video No No No
Desktop
Sharing
No WebEx for BB (View Only) WebEx for Nokia (View Only)
App
Sharing
No WebEx for BB WebEx for Nokia (View Only)
Web Conferencing No WebEx for BB WebEx for Nokia (View Only)

Looks pretty inconsistent to me with no on-premise solution for many of the options mentioned forcing you to only have a cloud option with WebEx. If you remove WebEx your left with only IM/P and voice but not consistently across all platforms. In fact, if video is the new voice then they have only one platform that delivers video with Jabber/CUPC and that is the Windows PC client. But isn't this the “Post PC era” according to Cisco? Well there is the Cius I guess but wait is that with Cisco Telepresence or Jabber, I am confused, maybe another app.

So I actually have a Android tablet that I use for testing and thought great I might actually download the Android application and give a spin in a lab where I have access to CUCM. Well its not that easy. I have an ASUS Tablet and Cisco’s Jabber only officially supports Samsung’s Galaxy Android devices. Bummer. I couldn’t even download the application on to my tablet to try it out. I just got a big warning that my device wasn’t compatible. So more limitations. But didn’t Michael say they had the most consistent story???

One Client To Rule Them All

Cisco Jabber

Cisco require multiple applications for Mobile UC- Jabber for IM, Jabber for VoIP and WebEx Meeting. Three clients to complete a UC solution and not all platforms are created equal.

    • Some platforms have IM, voice, VoIP and WebEx and some don’t. This mix of features creates complexity at the help desk and lacks insight on the complexity of deploying applications that don’t carry the same feature sets. This is a complex issue for any software vendor across multiple OS’s for sure. Even Cisco’s own Cuis doesn’t support video with WebEx. How confusing is that?
    • Some platforms use Cisco Secure Connect (requires Cisco ASA hardware) feature and others require AnyConnect/VPN. More complexity. Depending on what version of Anywhere Connect and whether you are running it on IOS or ASA affects your ability to allow these applications to work.
    • iPhone, iPad require AnyConnect with the Cisco ASA. So now to take advantage of Jabber you need Cisco  hardware, you already needed Cisco UCS servers for CUPS so why stop there.

I noticed in the comments on Michaels post that Cisco choose to deliver the features in separate applications . When I talk with companies this isn't what they want. They want to be able to leverage UC from a single mobile application. Which leads me to the conclusion that this wasn’t really a choice but due to their compartmentalized UC infrastructure this was their only way to deliver these features.

Why did I write this blog?

My intention here is to highlight “ don’t throw stones in glass houses”. Cisco execs think posting on a blog and spreading miss-information about their own products is okay while analyst with poorly researched articles are no less guilty. I noticed in the comments of Michaels blog there was a lot of “it’s coming” to a lot of points raised around where they fell short. No mention of that in the article it self though.

So yeah, I work for Microsoft and happy to say I have a strong opinion of where UC is heading and what companies are looking for when it comes to UC. Cisco compartmentalized infrastructure carries through to their mobility story and I am pretty happy about that. The chaos they create in their self proclaimed “Post PC” era makes my job a hell of a lot easier. Thanks Cisco.

VoIPNorm

7 comments:

  1. Very interesting and helpful has been posted in this blog certainly.


    Tests

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  2. Chris,

    A valid summary of the current state of multiple Cisco clients. Thank you for the effort.

    Clearly every UC vendor wants to deliver all modalities on all devices. And all of them seem to be working towards that.

    I think it is interesting that perhaps the closest vendor to supporting VOIP, IM and video on all platforms is Skype.

    With Microsoft's acquisition and the future integration (federation?) of Skype into the Lync + Messenger + Facebook (video powered by Skype) + Xbox Live community, it would seem that the Microsoft-world may soon be serving 1 - 2 billion UC users.

    I am going to talk a little more about this at my "Skype in the Enterprise" session at Enterprise Connect (March 27 3:45 pm) in Orlando. If you are attending Enterprise Connect please drop by ... let's have some spirited debates!

    Kevin Kieller

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kevin. I would agree Skype is a long way down the mobility road, I just tried the new WP7 client last night it really did work great for what is still a beta. I have also used it on a PC, MAC and Android as well and they do a fantastic job when it comes to cross platform. I think the big thing to take away from Skype is that they have one application on each platform that is hugely successful, not 5 or 3 but 1.

      There are some big moves a foot in the industry right now with Skype possibly being one of largest. Should be interesting times a head to say the least.

      I am not going to EC this year but I am sure you wont run short on debate partners while your there.

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  3. Lync may be better, but it's still missing VoiP/Video on the mobility clients and an Android tablet-supported client.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must by psychic. I new this comment was coming from someone. You have a valid comment but I think you missed the point of this post somewhat.

      My main aim here was to address the fact that Jabber is not the most consistent UC mobile client. If fact its probably somewhere behind Lync and Avaya in consistency. Why is this important? Its important because when company deploys a client across a broad set of OS’s there needs to be a level if consistency of features and clients for supportability. Most companies wont go down a deployment path when the strategy behind the software is unsupportable. The fact that one client on one platform does one thing and another client on another platform is completely different is basically a road blocker for most companies.

      Back to your comment. I have yet to meet a company that has done a large scale VoIP or video deployment based on a smartphone UC client, are they heading in that direction? Sure. But with such a big mix of mobile performance issue in the market right now and 4G is not the most common service across all providers, voice and video on anything but the best wifi network is going to be a challenge on either a smartphone or a tablet. I think that for right now Microsoft has taken the right strategy for the point in time that we are at in the industry. They have built a solid foundation to move forward with based on IM/P and calling features which can be deliver consistently across 3G and wifi while at the same time they have partners that have built mobile clients across a broad range of OS’s that do address VoIP and Video.

      So not only are they making the right moves strategy wise they also have partners covering any perceived missing features with clients of their own.

      As for the Android tablet. Very few in the industry have a Android Tablet app right now that’s not a blown out version of their smartphone app. I am one of the few people I know that actually owns a Android tablet and nearly every application that’s in the Android market place right now is specifically built for phones and not tablets. There are a few but not many . Also the market share of the Android tablets is pretty low right now so most do not consider it a priority, hence why I lumped phone and tablet together in the table in the post. Not saying it will never happen but there is a reason that its not there. Not even Facebook, Skype , Angry birds or twitter has a Android tablet specific application yet and those guys basically have app’s for everything. In saying that I have loaded Lync on my android tablet and it actually looked pretty good. It didn’t look like a blown out version of the smartphone app like some of them can. Actually I am not faulting Cisco on not having a Tablet specific version for Android either just their consistency on what they do have.

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  4. If you were at Enterprise Connect, then you saw that the capabilities/limitations listed above are mostly irrelevant as Jabber for Windows and Jabber for iPad were shown. BTW, Jabber does app sharing as well as provides instant escalation to WebEx when Web Conferencing with those who don't have Jabber is required. Federation and VPN descriptions are also misleading. For example voice and video with content sharing is supported for any standard endpoint with or without VPN. Most of this was demoed at Cisco's Enterprise Connect keynote. The fun starts about 20 minutes in

    http://www.nojitter.com/videos/1535075922001

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    1. No sure how most of these things are irrelevant at the time I posted this blog. Even with Cisco's most recent announcements the statement Michael made in relation to Jabber being the most consistent still doesn't reflect the truth of the matter. MAC, still no video and the whole solution is very dependent on WebEx and not Jabber for Web conferencing.

      At no stage did I say that Jabber required a VPN but Cisco's support of vpnless varies depending on the application. From the blog post:

      "Some platforms use Cisco Secure Connect (requires Cisco ASA hardware) feature and others require AnyConnect/VPN. More complexity. Depending on what version of Anywhere Connect and whether you are running it on IOS or ASA affects your ability to allow these applications to work.
      iPhone, iPad require AnyConnect with the Cisco ASA. So now to take advantage of Jabber you need Cisco hardware, you already needed Cisco UCS servers for CUPS so why stop there."

      So in this post PC era Cisco put Windows first for video support. Certainly doesn't seem like their developers think its as post PC as their marketing would have you believe.

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