LAS VEGAS — Cisco’s latest Webex update leverages the company’s ThousandEyes Internet intelligence platform to provide more reliable video conferencing and differentiate the collaboration platform from Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
At Tuesday’s Cisco Live conference, the company introduced integration between the Webex Control Hub and ThousandEyes. The connection allows IT administrators to diagnose Internet issues that could affect the quality of video conferencing powered by the Webex Cloud.
Cisco acquired the ThousandEyes company in 2020. Since then, Cisco has integrated the platform with multiple products, including the software-defined WAN, the Catalyst 9000 series of access switches, and the AppDynamics Application Performance Monitor.
The latest product integration extends Control Hub’s capabilities as a troubleshooting tool. The console shows IT administrators all the routes data travels during a Webex session and provides diagnostic information for troubleshooting.
Webex meetings typically span multiple networks, so locating issues is complicated and sometimes impossible, explains Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research. “ThousandEyes provides IT administrators with end-to-end visibility, allowing them to see things they couldn’t see before.”
Control Hub Templates
Cisco also introduced Control Hub templates that allow IT staff to assign collaboration policies to user groups. For example, templates can prevent some people from sharing files while messaging or meeting people outside an organization. IT could limit others to screen sharing with only people within the company.
IT managers can apply the template settings to new employees when they join a group, reducing the time for onboard employees.
Another advancement of Control Hub is a streamlined process for provisioning individuals, groups, and domains in Webex from Azure Active Directory (AD). IT admins were able to provision from Azure AD earlier, but the process required a dozen steps to complete the configuration. They also had to manually verify domains in Webex, even if they were already in Azure AD.
Other new features allow administrators to map people’s profiles and avatars in Azure AD to Webex user profiles, eliminating the need to manually update profiles. As a result, profiles in Azure AD and Webex are always synchronized.
For regulated industries, such as banks and law firms, Cisco has added Control Hub features that create communication barriers between some groups. For example, administrators can prevent legal teams representing competing clients of a company from communicating.
Overall, the latest announcements are focused on improving the Webex platform for IT professionals. “A company can’t deliver a great user experience if the IT professional is fighting fires,” Kerravala says.
One pain that Cisco isn’t addressing is the lack of support for other integrated communications and collaboration products, said IDC analyst Richard Costello. Companies typically use multiple products, each with separate management tools.
“In that regard, UC&C third-party management tools and solutions can provide better and more robust options,” he said.
The quality of management tools is a critical component when comparing Teams, Zoom and Webex, analysts say. Another factor is how well the Unified Communications-as-a-Service products enable company employees to work together, whether in the office or at home.