2017 has been a huge year for UC with a lot of change and disruption. One of the industry leaders entered into Chapter 11 which destabilized the market and created some concern. Microsoft Skype for Business continues to grow in market share and popularity and Cisco are evolving their collaboration offerings and license modeling to meet this pace of change.
In the past for Cisco UC you would get a license for an on-prem environment or a license for a cloud-based environment. What they've done now is shifted to Spark Flex pricing, where you simply pay per user to have all the collaboration capabilities, regardless of where or how you consume it. So, whether it's on-premises, HCS or migrating to Spark that one license you bought five years ago is good for any of them. It's setting the marketplace up for this the next transition to hybrid.
Gradual Cloud Transition with Collaboration at the Forefront
Cisco are excited about the transition to the cloud. They understand that it's going to take some time, probably the next three to five years will be a hybrid environment. You'll still have some of on-premise but starting to consume from the cloud while looking at Spark. It's going to be a year where they continue to drive awareness within their base, their customer community of the best ways to move toward the cloud. Cisco are educating their customer community on what parts of the collaboration architecture would best be served in the cloud as they go forward.
If you're a Cisco customer it's time to really think about what does the cloud mean to me? How fast should I move and what direction should I take? It's interesting because if he had this conversation two years ago people thought you just go from on-premises straight through the cloud and in two years everybody would be in the cloud. All the major vendors have looked at the marketplace and realized the next three to five years is going to be a transition period where people will begin to consume cloud services in the collaboration environment but they'll still have some hardware will still be some on-premise.
It's going to be a hybrid environment for now and Cisco will help move people toward the cloud to get comfortable with it and then eventually move all the way.