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SAN FRANCISCO -- Cisco has unveiled a per-user, per-month pricing approach for its collaboration offerings, which could bring some fresh impetus to a mature technology category.
The Cisco Spark Flex Plan allows customers to choose cloud-based and on-premises approaches for deploying Cisco collaboration tools. For example, Cisco offers the options of cloud-based Cisco Spark Meetings, WebEx or its on-premises Cisco Meeting Server. Cisco said customers can change their mix of collaboration offerings at any time while maintaining the same pricing under one contract.
Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's IoT and Collaboration Technology Group, said Cisco Spark Flex Plan provides access to Spark and everything in the company's on-premises product portfolio at prices starting at $21 per user per month.
Trollope, presenting at Cisco Partner Summit 2016, described the flex plan as "a new way to buy collaboration products."
Jose Bogarin, chief innovation officer at Altus, a Cisco partner in San Jose, Costa Rica, said the per-user, per-month pricing model is plus for the company.
"We can go to market more easily and actually have a more predictable business" because of recurring revenue, he said.
In another initiative, Cisco collaboration tools are now being extended into third-party platforms.
Trollope said Cisco Spark Depot provides a source of Cisco Spark integrations. He said more than 60 integrations are available including links to Box, Office 365 Calendar, Salesforce and ServiceNow.
"We have integrations into every major platform that counts," he said.
And while the Spark ecosystem grows, other Cisco collaboration tools such as WebEx and Jabber will not be going away, according to Trollope. He said Cisco is increasing its research and development investment in Jabber and will continue to offer WebEx as a standalone meeting product.
Cisco's collaboration message at the partner summit was "pretty spot on," noted Leslie Rosesnberg, research director for IDC's Network Life-Cycle Services.
"The challenge is … collaboration is a very mature market, so you have to make it exciting for partners to rally up and get out and sell it again," she explained. "They [Cisco] did a good job of doing that."
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