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Combining the Best of Both Worlds – Cisco Spark Hybrid

by Bill Donovan, on Sep 9, 2016 12:00:02 PM

Most enterprises that have invested heavily in their on-premises Cisco Collaboration environment have a difficult time justifying making the shift to cloud collaboration platforms such as Cisco Spark. However, with recent updates to the Spark platform, as well as enhancements in Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) and Cisco Expressway, enterprises no longer have to choose between one or the other, they can now have the best of both worlds with Cisco Spark Hybrid.

Cisco Spark Hybrid is a collection of service integrations to connect an on-premises Cisco Collaboration deployment to the Cisco Collaboration Cloud. These services are enabled by installing one or more connectors on the on-premises equipment. The following image shows how these connectors link the local environment with the Cisco Collaboration Cloud.

Source: Cisco Source: Cisco

The Management Connector is included in the Cisco Expressway-C base software beginning with version 8.7.1. This connector registers the Expressway-C to the Cisco Collaboration Cloud and provides the ability for subsequent connectors to be managed via the Cloud Collaboration Management Portal.

Installing the Directory Connector on a Microsoft Windows Server on a corporate network enables the Hybrid Directory Service. This service provides the capability to synchronize an organization’s Active Directory with the Cisco Collaboration Cloud, which provides the seamless ability for an administrator to import corporate users into the Cisco Collaboration Cloud and to provision them for Cisco Spark.

The Calendar Connector enables the Hybrid Calendar Service. This enables integration between the Cisco Collaboration Cloud and an organization’s Microsoft Exchange environment via an impersonation account configured as part of the Microsoft Exchange environment. The connector allows users to add ‘@Spark’ in the location field of a meeting invite and have a Cisco Spark room automatically created for the invite with all other attendees added to the Spark room.

The Call Connector is configured on the Cisco Expressway-C and enables the Hybrid Call Service. This service integrates an organization’s existing on-premises call control with the Cisco Collaboration Cloud. There are two components of this service:

- Call Service Aware – The Call Connector on the Expressway-C makes the Cisco Collaboration Cloud aware when two Spark users are in a call on their CUCM registered endpoints. This gives Spark users on a call the ability to escalate the call to a one-to-one Spark meeting by instantly sharing their screen.

- Call Service Connect – This service integrates an organization’s on-premises call control with Cisco Spark to function like a single phone system. This allows users to make and receive calls with their on-premises CUCM registered device, as well as their Cisco Spark client using the same directory phone number.

Cisco Spark Hybrid lets enterprises use Spark to enhance their collaboration capabilities without replacing their CUCM environment. That’s what I call the best of both worlds!

Bill Donovan is a Consulting Engineer with Professional Services at GTRI.



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