Today from Ohio, I watched Rowan's keynote live from Enterprise Connect in Florida. It was all about Spark. I really appreciate the direction Cisco is taking with this, mainly from a meeting control standpoint (as I am not into virtual chat room things at this moment). Even though this is a great start, there are some hiccups in the thought process. Let's dive into it.
To get the main benefit of Spark and Spark enabled meeting rooms lies in the fact that you must be a dedicated Cisco house with the codecs that are updated with the Spark OS to get the full functionality company wide. You're also requiring everyone who needs/wants control to put Spark on their smart phone and/or give them a desk phone and as a company you're paying for it no matter if the employee uses it or not. Everything is all nice and fine if these conditions and others are met. The world doesn't work that perfectly however. Inter-company calling is a normal event in business. Question to ask: If you're calling another Cisco house (how would you know anyway), is their gear Spark enabled? If yes, what do I do? If not, what do I do? Okay, that's more than one question. Next, what happens if you're calling a Polycom equipped room, either Inter or Intra-company? What if you're using Crestron/AMX control solutions?
Like the title states, I am a big fan of what Cisco is doing and where it's going. Be careful of the rosy picture this paints if your existing Cisco hardware isn't supported, you do plenty of inter-company calls or if you have a mixed bag of technologies. If you're just getting into conferencing, this may well be the solution for you though.
As I mentioned here, what's needed is a cross platform solution. I don't know how it can happen, but if it could, that would mean video conferencing would then have the capability to grow exponentially. Until then, it looks like we'll keep creating islands, cool islands, but still islands.
Note that if I'm incorrect about anything in this blog (or others!) feel free to call me out.