Cisco and the edge challenge - federations in Cisco collaboration solutions

Based on my actual projects I made some experiences with the needs and requirements or large enterprises around federations. In today enterprise communication requirements federations with external partners or customers becomes more and more important. While Microsoft has a clear strategy with their Microsoft Edge Servers to provide their customers a wide range of features via one kind of server. With this solution Microsoft can provide features like:
        • Business to Business Audio and Video calls
        • Instant Messaging
        • Desktop Sharing
        • Registration of clients via Internet

In comparison the Cisco solution is more complex, depending on the use case a different kind of edge device is required. With the Cisco acquisition of Acano the range o possible edge devices get more possibilities but also more overlap between the different solutions. In an actual overview of edge devices in an Cisco collaboration solution we would see the following devices:
        • Cisco Expressway
        • Cisco ASA
        • Cisco Meeting Server Edge formerly Acano Edge
Every device has it's own strengths and weaknesses and increases the need to have detailed requirements during the design phase to make the right decisions for an integration.

Products StrengthsWeaknessesStrategical Assumption
Cisco ASA- TLS Proxy for Microsoft Lync Federation
- IM&P federation including screen sharing
- No TLS 1.2 Support
- Additional licenses required for TLS Proxy Function
- No features like B2B video / audio calls
- from my perspective no long term strategy
- support is limited to some features without further developments in the past
Cisco Meeting Server Edge 2.0- Federation with Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business are the clear strengths of the Cisco Meeting Server Edge
-WebRTC integration for compatible browsers
-Video Gateway for H.323 and SIP
- Registration of clients is just supported for the Cisco Meeting App and no other clients
- Instant messaging is just possible between Lync and Skype for Business clients and Spaces. Cisco Jabber and Cisco IM&P Servers are not supported
- No support for XMPP federation with other solutions and no point to point to point communication possibilites for XMPP

- More and more features will be migrate to Cisco Expressway with the next releases to provide  unique edge solution
Cisco Expressway 8.8- Integration of endpoints and clients via Mobile Remote Access
- B2B Audio--/ Video Calls for standard-based endpoints
- Integration of Jabber Guest for calls without registration (Plug-In required)
- XMPP federation in combination with IM&P servers
- No Microsoft Federation for Instant Messaging, Presence and Audio, Video Calls
- XMPP Federation without screen sharing and desktop control
- No support for registration of Cisco Meeting App
- Strategical project from Cisco for the edge. Feature improvements could be expected for the future
Status: 14th October 2016
Cisco has still a way to go to close the feature gap to Microsoft in the point of federations. The possibilities and feature improvements of the Expressway Edge solution is a good way forward, but there are still some features missing. The missing federation possibilities between Expressway Edge and Microsoft are one of the main disadvantages of the Cisco solution. From the Instant Messaging perspective the missing possibility for desktop sharing and control via Expressway Edge is also a very large limitation of the solution.
Interesting will be also how long the Cisco Meeting Server Edge will stay in the preferred architecture of Cisco or how fast is functionalities are moved into the Cisco Expressway.


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