Enterprise Connect 2019 is happening this week, and there is tons of new information in the world of Enterprise Collaboration and specifically in the world of Cisco Collaboration, there is a boatload of new information going to be coming out. From on-premise Cisco solutions like Cisco Unified Communications 12.5, to the long anticipated Cloud Calling solutions like Cisco’s Webex Calling (think Broadsoft acquisition) to the new buzz term in the industry, “Cognitive Collaboration”, pay attention to this blog over the next several months, as we’ll be providing in-depth coverage and updates so you know what to expect!
For those that are interested, Enterprise Connect is March 18-20 in Orlando, and there’s still time to register. If you can’t attend though, we highly recommend our Cisco clients tuning into cisco.com on 3/20 @ 10AM EST to see Amy Chang’s (SVP, Cisco Collaboration Technology Group) main stage keynote.
In the meantime, we just got back from Cisco’s Collaboration VT 2019 last week at Cisco’s Headquarters in San Jose, where we were pre-briefed on some of what’s going to be coming. One of the things Cisco made clear, they will be going “BIG” at Enterprise Connect. Cisco’s very excited and rightfully so, about some of their announcements and they plan a huge marketing campaign at the Connect conference to highlight all their progress.
Unfortunately, while we’ve been privy to a lot of what is coming, we won’t steal all of Cisco’s thunder here, and in the meantime, let’s look at some new things coming that we can update our Clients on. We’re going to focus on the latest updates to Cisco’s line of Webex video devices, from Room Kits, to the Webex Board, there is plenty of changes coming and lots to discuss.
The Webex Board
The Webex Board, or what was previously known as the “Spark Board” has a new, bigger model option. The new 85 inch “85S”, joining the existing 70″ and 55″ inch models of the family. The “S” series of Webex Boards (i.e., CS-BOARD55S-M-K9) has some minor optimizations to the hardware platform however the design, look and feel will be identical to the previous Board 55 and 70 and users will not notice a difference.
Cisco has transitioned 95% of deployed Boards to the newer “Room OS” and new Boards will come pre-installed. The primary benefits of Room OS is faster feature development and it inherits most of Room OS features. Additional items coming soon for the Webex Boards include the following:
- Customization and Macros
- Touch 10 integration with the Webex Board
- Improved Calling Experience (Mute Remote Participants, Recents, Favorites)
- Webex Assistant (Coming for all Webex Devices)
- Facial Recognition Features (Coming for all Webex Devices)
- Enhanced Whiteboarding and Annotation in Webex Meetings
- Brainstorming 2.0 with “Stickies”
- Extended Canvas
- Email Whiteboards as PDF
- Digital Signage Integration (Coming for several Webex Devices)
- Web viewer for displaying of URLs
- Can show customer content such as product commercials, company announcements, and social media feeds when the video system is not in use
- Can show custom information such as calendaring and room booking
That last one, Digital Signage is very intriguing and we saw a demo of this at the Collab VT. It’s powered through a company called “Appspace” and really fills a gap in the Cisco portfolio since they no longer have the Cisco Digital Media System they had a few years ago. Combining this functionality with their Video Codecs is pretty smart in a lots of ways as well. There is a great video here showing some of this in action.
Webex Room Kits
The Room Kit Mini is the newest member of the Webex Room Kit lineup. It’s a 3rd of the size of the regular Room Kit, and is designed primarily for Huddle Spaces. It’s perfect for 2-5 people, around a smaller display. The recommended display size is 55″. To get the full benefit of the directional microphones, a maximum distance of 3 meters is recommended.
One of the coolest features of the Mini is the ability to use it with 3rd party Video Conferencing Applications. We’re big fans of Cisco Webex of course, however there are other solutions out there. Knowing this, Cisco allows you to connect the Mini to your laptop or desktop computer (Mac or PC) and it instantly recognizes and installs into the OS. It then becomes an available audio, microphone and video camera that you can use pretty much any service with.
We recently tested this in our lab. The setup was very quick and easy. There is a USB-C input on the back of the Mini codec. You connect a provided cable from there to your PC or Mac. Once there, we tested with Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Amazon Chime. Very good quality and really made those experiences much better. When connected to a local display as well, you can still share content to the display locally and the Touch 10 acts as the camera controller.
This ability really is quite nice. Let’s face it, some companies are stuck using Skype or Zoom, or whatever the tool may be, and all of those have poor video room systems in common. They are all 3rd party and most consist of klugey components and interconnects. Check out this video here to understand just how much. This “huddle space” market is huge too, and Cisco realizes this. To be able to get into this market with superior and simpler to use video devices regardless of the client being used is a shrewd move.
Room Kit Pro
The Room Kit Pro has been available for a couple of months now, and it is the replacement codec for the SX80. It’s also the codec inside of the Webex Room 70 single and dual. It’s a beast of a Codec featuring a video matrix switcher with windowing capabilities, six all digital inputs and three output (one 3G-SDI input for Precision 60). It supports six windows on local screens or main video channel and up to 4 on presentation channel.
- Direct Replacement of SX 80
- All Digital Inputs
- 8x Mics
- 3x Screen Outputs
- 5x HDMI In
- 1x 3G-SDI In
- Support SpeakerTrack 60, Quad Camera, Precision 60 Camera and Sony SRG-120DH
- Supports PresenterTrack, Briefing Room Mode and Classroom Mode
Room 55 Dual
The Room 55 Dual is the replacement for the MX700 Dual. It has an updated design with a Quad Camera replacing SpeakerTrack 60 Cams. It has the Codec “Plus” on the inside, not the SX80 or the RK Pro. It will still support PresenterTrack, with an optional Precision 60 Camera. It has 3 mic inputs, 2 video outputs and a Touch 10. Since it only supports 2 video outputs, it will not support “Briefing Room Mode”, but does support “Classroom Mode”.
Room 70 G2
The Room 70 G2 is based on the same codec platform as the Room Kit Pro. It’s a replacement for the MX800 single and dual. It has MX800 parity with increased audio and video input and output that can be used for complex AV integration. It supports all the same items as the RK Pro, SpeakerTrack 60 Cameras, Precision 60 Cameras, Quad Camera or the Sony SRG-120DH. It supports SpeakerTrack, PresenterTrack “Briefing Room Mode” and “Classroom Mode”. It’s a “Turn-key” system designed for meeting, briefing or board rooms up to 30 feet deep. It has advanced integration capability.
We’ll have a lot more information to discuss after Enterprise Connect this week, keep checking back with us for the latest updates!