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Whiteboard Fridays: Comparing Cisco and Microsoft in the Collaboration Space

Friday, June 7, 2019 - 09:00
Cisco vs Microsoft Collaboration

When stepping up to the collaboration buffet, IT leaders now have more options to choose from than ever. In the early days of unified communications, organizations were somewhat constrained to complex, siloed technologies. But in today’s UC environments, the Cloud has enabled businesses to adapt technologies that are more agile, flexible and user-centric.

When building out the UC collaboration stack, there are three factors that most companies consider: team collaboration, meetings and calling. We’ve taken a look at these three areas and conducted an impartial comparison of two of the industry’s biggest players – Cisco and Microsoft.

Comparing Three Facets of Cisco and Microsoft Collaboration

Before we jump into the comparisons, we’ll start by defining team collaboration, meetings and calling. We’ve given Cisco and Microsoft a score from 1 – 5 in each area, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

Team Collaboration

This refers to the environment where messages can be sent back and forth, files and documents can be shared and collaborated upon in real time. These spaces are generally searchable and include the ability to escalate a chat-based conversation to a conference call.

Previously called, “Spark,” Cisco rebranded its team collaboration tool as Webex Teams in April of 2018. Cisco’s Teams environment is still relatively new and has a few kinks that are still being worked out. Microsoft on the other hand has a more refined team messaging approach and a lot of hooks into their Office 365 productivity applications. Although a downside of Microsoft Teams is that there are different organizations that require a user to log in to access and if there is a need to access a different organization the user must log out and log back in.

Both Cisco and Microsoft team environments offer persistent messaging in channels or virtual rooms and both offer the ability to escalate to a conference call with or without video. Both integrate with a variety of third party apps and both extend their experience to a touch screen device with the Cisco Webex Board and the Microsoft Surface Hub.

The scores:

  • Cisco 3/5
  • Microsoft 4/5

The winner: Microsoft 


Here we are referring to online meetings with your immediate team or a larger group of people inside or outside the organization.

Cisco Webex Meetings are undoubtedly Cisco’s strength. Webex has been around for a long time and Cisco has built on the Webex installed base and knowledge base and have been able to do some really great stuff with meetings like personal rooms to keep conversations private, built-in Webex assistant that can record, transcribe and set up future meetings on your behalf.

Microsoft is still catching up a bit in the meetings space. While Microsoft has the capabilities to do some really fun stuff like blurring out backgrounds and changing backgrounds, meetings can’t be broken out from the rest of the Microsoft Teams environment, which does present some barriers to multitasking. The meetings world is still evolving a bit for Microsoft.

The scores:

  • Cisco 4/5
  • Microsoft 3/5

The winner: Cisco 


This includes the ability to make or receive calls. Within the business world, most organizations are either maintaining an on-premises PBX to provide calling capabilities, or they are leveraging cloud technologies to provide the service and take advantage of all the benefits hosted voice has to offer.

Cisco has been doing unified communications and calling for a very long time and they have a variety of solutions that appeal to the smallest business all the way up to the large enterprise organization. In this area Microsoft is also playing a bit of catchup. While many of Microsoft’s customers are using Teams and many were using Skype for Business before that, few are adopting and embracing the solutions for true calling – although we’ve seen that it is something many are evaluating for the future.

The scores:

  • Cisco 5/5
  • Microsoft 3/5

The winner: Cisco 

Adding up the scores

Cisco and Microsoft have similar strategies in the collaboration space. When we tally up the results of our comparison, Cisco is just slightly ahead of Microsoft. When looking at Cisco vs. Microsoft for collaboration, many businesses today are considering a strategy that combines the two and brings together the best of Cisco and the best of Microsoft – and that’s where West comes in. West has strong partnerships with both of these collaboration giants and we can help you get the best of both worlds whether you’re evaluating Cisco, or Microsoft, or both. Connect with us today to learn more!