Cisco

The Cisco Desk Pro has some powerful features

by knorton



Deskpro Overview

I remember speaking to my Cisco channel account manager about getting a Cisco Desk Pro. He told me "it is the best desktop video unit Cisco ever made!" I laughed and really didn’t think much about it. I heard good things about the Desk Pro, but I thought it can't be that much better than my Cisco DX80.

Wow, was I wrong!

I have had the device for some time now and I still come across new features and functionality. Here are some great features that I believe make the Cisco Desk Pro the best desktop video unit on the market today.

1 - Excellent primary display

Easily connect your PC or Mac to the Cisco Desk Pro and take advantage of a 27-inch, high definition 4K display. For the best experience use a USB-C cable, but an optional HDMI port is available.

Deskpro


It also comes with an easily accessible mini-jack port for audio and a USB port to connect a wired or wireless headset along with the following:

Deskpro Back

2 - The USB-C port

The USB-C connection provides a couple of excellent features. Navigate your touch enabled PC from the Cisco Desk Pro. This is not natively supported by the Mac, but here is a third party driver to enable it. https://touch-base.com/drivers

You can also charge your Mac or PC through the USB-C port. In the past I would purchase a separate power adapter for my Mac or PC. One for at home and one for the road. No need anymore, now I just have one for the road. Another bonus is having one less cable to manage around my desk and another open USB-C port on my Mac.

Usb C

3 - Flexibility to join any meeting

We all get invites from different meeting platforms, whether it is from Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Zoom, BlueJeans, etc. It can be frustrating when there isn't a SIP URI in the meeting invite and you want to use your desktop video endpoint.

You have to figure out how to easily connect to the meeting using VoIP for audio and use your built in camera from your PC or Mac for video. For me this is a huge challenge since I close my Mac when I work. I use my desktop video endpoint as a monitor with an external keyboard and mouse. So I don’t have easy access to the internal speakers, mic, and camera on my Mac.

But now with the Cisco Desk Pro I can connect my laptop to the USB-C port and leverage the HD camera and audio from the Desk Pro. No need for another USB camera or flipping open my Mac and rearranging my desk to support the new video angle. I can easily select my Desk Pro as the audio and video source when I join the meeting.

Join

4 - Intelligent and simple

No need to point and click on someone's phone icon in the directory anymore. You can just say "OK, Webex call John Smith" or if you have a scheduled meeting, just say "OK, Webex start my meeting". Although this feature is not exclusive to the Desk Pro and is included on all the latest Cisco video endpoints with Webex. It is worth providing an example of how the Cisco Desk Pro and Webex combine to make routine tasks easier.

Ivr

5 - Automatic Framing

Sometimes you need to stand up and stretch your legs in the middle of a long video conference call at the end of the day. The Cisco Desk Pro has the intelligence to automatically frame you in the center of the video window without touching the device.

Framing

6 - Immersive Share

When combining your Cisco Desk Pro with Webex you can take advantage of immersive share. This feature makes sharing your desktop that much better of an experience. Instead of your video being lost in a small window as you present. You are now displayed in front of the presentation. Your audience can focus on both the content and you at the same time. This feature is great for providing training.

Share

7 - Noise Cancelling

I didn't think much about this feature when it first came out. Then my dog starting barking during a Webex meeting and I couldn't believe no one in the meeting could hear him. Now I take this feature for granted and I get a little frustrated when I can't use it on other meeting platforms besides Cisco Webex.

Noise

8 - Whiteboarding

A picture is worth a thousand words. And when you have a chance to share a document and annotate over it. It can really help paint a better picture for those in the meeting. By leveraging the touch display of the Cisco Desk Pro you can easily create a new whiteboard and begin drawing on a fresh canvas or share your screen to annotate over your screen share. One way whiteboarding works on most meeting platforms when the Cisco Desk Pro joins the meeting's SIP URI. To take advantage of two way whiteboarding or co-create functionality you will need to use a Webex Teams meeting created from a Webex Teams space also known as a space backed meeting.

Whiteboard

Overview

All in all, the Cisco Desk Pro has more than exceeded my expectations. Here's a list of additional Cisco Desk Pro features. I am sure I will find more great features in future software releases.

Features

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



gg_bridge.jpg

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