The Cisco-Microsoft partnership for allowing interop news is probably one of the most shocking yet exciting announcements in recent times,
A History lesson ..
Some may not know this, both vendors entered the IP telephony market together. Common knowledge to most is Cisco’s acquisition of Selsius Systems which developed the CallManager in 1998, the chances are you didn’t know Microsoft also entered the telephone market with the Phone System MP-900 – this was the first 900MHz phone to link up to a PC, something they subsequently discontinued.
In a weird twist, Selsius-CallManager was originally marketed as a Video PBX – the idea was scrapped because there was no market for it …. 20+ years-on its become very common.
Coincidentally, here is a picture of the first Selsius-Cisco IP Phones back from 1998… something which was supported by Cisco until CUCM v11.5 (2016!)
(photo from my lab)
For a number of years, CallManager was running on a Windows server…. Cisco then made the shift to running its CallManager to a Linux based platform for various reasons… the relationship went down south. It was around the same time Cisco and Microsoft went head to head with their instant messaging apps, with Cisco’s Unified Presence Server (CUPS) and Microsoft’s Office Communications Server (OCS) – (successor of the Office Live Communications Server). Cisco’s later acquisition of Jabber definitely made the offering more appealing but by now the lines have been drawn.
All throughout – interoperability between the two giants faced certain challenges, customers would constantly complain how they wanted to make use of the best product but the biggest issue being they don’t talk to each other!. There has been a long history of workarounds from Cisco such as the Cisco UC Integration(TM) for Microsoft Lync, more commonly known as CUCILync to Cisco’s recent acquisition of Acano in 2016 (i still argue Pexip would have accelerated Cisco’s vision sooner).
Islands and Bridges
Up until now you needed to build a bridge with the Microsoft Teams Island, the ‘bridge’ contract was awarded to three companies who built a bridge each; Pexip, BJN and Poly with their respective solutions:-
I have personally worked with Pexip and they do a very good job with the their Infinity product which also includes other options including the Google Hangouts Meet integrations
With the latest announcement, Cisco is now also able to build a bridge to the Microsoft Teams Island…. and with that ….. the stalemate has now come to an end!
in my next post i will cover what this actually means from a Cisco perspective……