Cisco

Building my own bridge with Cisco WebEx Teams

by knorton



spammer_v2.png

In October of 2021 we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first email sent. Unbelievable when you think about all of the new technology created on a daily basis. And still for most of us the first application launched every morning is email.

Today with the need for instant feedback from text and instant messaging (IM). Add to that the requirement for voice and high definition video on almost any device. Coupled with the rise of automation with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

I am finding myself not checking email as often, but I still find my email client running idle all day, every day.

I tend to communicate more with real time, team based applications like Cisco Webex Teams.

New collaboration applications like Cisco Webex Teams have matured, but will Cisco Webex Teams ever replace email?

Maybe someday......or maybe not

I just can't shutdown email and never open it again. It is one of the oldest forms of communications. It is still considered a core application for every company in the world.

But I believe there is a need to integrate Cisco Webex Teams with email.

So is there a way to create an integration or "build a bridge" between Cisco Webex Teams and email?

The answer is YES!

OK, the next question, how?

One of core features of Cisco Webex Teams is creating customized bots and integrations.

OK, what does that mean? What is a bot?

A bot is short for robot. It is a program or application that can interact with a computer or user. It's designed to simulate human behavior.

I am not a developer, but I like to learn new things. So I fired up Google and started searching for "Creating a Cisco Webex bot"

The first result brought me to https://developer.webex.com/docs/bots

I created an account on the Cisco Webex for Developers site. I then began reading about bots, application programming interfaces (APIs), REST, and webhooks.

After a quick dive into Python programming. I created a Cisco Webex Teams Bot.......

Introducing Spammer or spammer@webex.bot

OK, what is spammer and what does it do?

Spammer is a Cisco Webex Teams bot that sends emails to all the users in a Cisco Webex Teams space. When spammer is @ mentioned in a message it sends an email with the message to all the users. If someone is ignoring your questions or comments in the Webex space. A message from Spammer can give them a friendly reminder in their inbox.

How do I use it?

Create a Cisco Webex Teams space and add spammer@webex.bot or add spammer@webex.bot to an existing space. Spammer is another user in the space. You can see Spammer next to Cam and Bobby below as if it was another user.

Create Space

Now when you create a message and you want to send out the message as an email to everyone in the space. Simply @ mention spammer anywhere in the message.

Create Message

Once you hit enter, Spammer will message you back in the space informing you that the emails have been sent.

Message

And now everyone in the space will receive the email with the message and a link to the Webex Teams space. As you can see the spammer @ mention is not in the email.

Spammer Email Mac

Feel free to try it out.

Notes: The max number of supported users in a space is 25. An email will not be sent to users in a space larger than 25.

Cisco is bridging the cloud with Webex Edge

by knorton



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Recently Cisco has focused on “building better bridges".

Kind of ironic based on their logo, but what exactly does that mean?

When it comes to collaboration that simply means connecting services from the Cisco Webex cloud to the customers Cisco on premise Unified Communications (UC) and Collaboration infrastructure.

Considered the leader in on premise UC and Collaboration solutions with over 300 million desktop phones, video endpoints, and unified communications clients deployed through out the world. Combined with Webex, one of the largest real time public cloud platforms. Powering more than 6 billion minutes a month. It only stands to reason that combining or bridging the two platforms is the next logical step. The key is to tie the two platforms together without impacting the user experience.

Making the user experience simple, consistent, and easy.

The most recent solution to build a better bridge is the Cisco Webex Edge architecture. The Edge architecture consists of three core services.

Cisco Webex Edge Audio
Cisco Webex Edge Connect
Cisco Webex Video Mesh

Each of these services can be implemented independently.

Edge Overview

Cisco Webex Edge Audio

Studies show the average person spends more than 37% of their time in meetings. While 50% of all enterprise voice traffic is ending up on a conference bridge. This is causing audio conferencing public switched telephone network (PSTN) cost to rise.

Webex Edge Audio separates the PSTN from Webex. It does this by routing audio calls over your on premise PSTN services. It allows companies with Cisco Unified Communications Manager to reduce PSTN conferencing costs. And the key is no change in user behavior.

Here are four key advantages of Cisco Webex Edge Audio

  • Decreased PSTN Costs - Leverage your existing on premise Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Cisco Expressway to route Webex calls over the customers PSTN circuits.
  • Enhanced Quality - Use high-quality wideband g722 audio codecs.
  • Flexible Deployments - Lets the customer choose whether to use Webex Edge based on the region.
  • No Change In User Behavior - Webex participants will use the same Webex call in numbers they use today. It will route the calls over your Cisco on premise UC solution to the Webex cloud using Cisco Expressway. If users prefer the Webex Call Back feature. Phone calls will then be routed from Webex to the customer through Cisco Expressway.


Edge Audio

Cisco Webex Edge Connect

Three out of five users still believe cloud video doesn't deliver a reliable service. Even though most Internet circuit are generally over engineered and exceed the required bandwidth for the site. The concerns is Internet circuits still don't provide any level of quality of service. For those customers Webex Edge Connect provides the following with no change in user behavior.

  • Enhanced Meeting Quality - A dedicated, managed, QoS-enabled IP link from a customer’s premises to the Webex cloud through direct peering via Equinix Cloud Exchange (ECX).
  • Secure Connection - The connection to the Webex backbone provides enhanced meeting quality with consistent performance over a secure, dedicated connection.
  • Inexpensive Solution - The per user costs are included in a Cisco Flex Plan, but there are costs for the peering and port connectivity to the Equinix data centers.


Edge Connect

Cisco Webex Video Mesh

For those customers who want to enhance their Webex video experience. The Cisco Webex Video Mesh leverages a local server communicating with the Webex cloud. By keeping media traffic on premise. It can be optimized when used with Webex Edge Connect and is managed by the Webex backbone. The Webex Video Mesh provides the following advantages with no change in user behavior.

  • Enhanced Meeting Quality - Enabling lower latency, bandwidth savings, and creating a better video meeting experience for users while keeping the video media local.
  • Cloud Simple - Managed by and registered to the Webex Cloud. The Video Mesh Node is software is simply installed on a local server and easily integrated with the Webex cloud
  • No Change In User Behavior - The ability to cascade to the cloud to facilitate overflow capacity for additional users. Webex participants will never know if the video stream is on the local Webex Video Mesh Node or being provided by the Webex Cloud.
  • Inexpensive Solution - The software costs for the Webex Video Mesh Node are included in a Cisco Flex Plan, but their maybe additional costs for the physical server


Edge Video Mesh

Whether customers implement one, two, or all three of the Webex Edge services. Cisco is moving in the right direction. To "build a better bridge" connecting customers with Cisco UC on premise solutions and the Cisco Webex cloud. Again the key to building a better bridge is making the user experience simple, consistent, and easy. This appears to be true based on my experience with the new Webex Edge solutions. As an added benefit Cisco is providing them for free* with a Cisco Flex Plan. Hopefully this will be a sign from Cisco to develop the best bridge in the industry.

Edge Flex

More about the technical installation, configuration, and notes from my experience with the Webex Edge architecture will be coming soon to members in the Content section.

If you have any questions feel free to send me an email at knorton@collabmonkeys.com or find me on Twitter @knorton3

*Additional cost may include an Equinix peering link, physical or virtual server, or professional services costs

Cisco Spark is now Webex Teams........ Why?

by knorton



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To answer this question I had to go back to the first Spark space or Spark room I was added to by Louis Pratt from Cisco a.k.a Louis from Accounting.

The first message was on November 11, 2014. Almost four years ago.
Squared
A lot has changed since then, even the name. It was known as Project Squared in 2014. Even though a lot features have made there way to production and the name changed to Cisco Spark, still too many people don't know what Cisco Spark is and how it differs from Webex.

To eliminate the confusion it might be as simple as removing the name Cisco Spark and combining the current Spark features with Webex.

Everyone knows Webex, it's like Q-tip. Very few ask for a cotton swab just like very few schedule a web collaboration meeting.

We schedule a Webex.

With over 14 million Webex users leveraging Webex conferencing, it's a no brainer to leverage the Webex brand recognition and enhance it. By adding cloud calling formerly Cisco Spark Call and their persistent messaging application, Cisco Spark Messaging to the Webex umbrella Cisco now has created one platform for Cloud Collaboration under the Webex name.

Introducing Webex Calling, Webex Teams, and Webex Meetings

Besides the name change a lot of technical additions and enhancements have also been added to the Cisco Collaboration portfolio of products. To learn more about them click here!