In Part 1 (the Why) I outlined why the Apple + Cisco partnership is exciting and some of the features which are now available. But how do you allow your organization to begin taking advantage of these capabilities? In the next 2 posts I'll walk us throughsetting up and configuring the solution.
This is the part before all your coworkers offer to buy lunch and your portrait is placed next to all the former CEOs in the the lobby (OK, maybe a little far but your coworkers will love you).
Configuration Overview - Part 1
Configure iOS devices
Create accounts on Cisco Spark
Provision connectivity to the public telephone network
Plan the hybrid deployment
Apple and Cisco's partnership starts on the iOS device using two new APIs in iOS 10 - CallKit and SiriKit (you can imagine who helped co-develop these APIs). CallKit allows for functionality such as access to the native dialer and swipe to answer while SiriKit allows for integration to (dramatic pause) Siri.
Key takeaway 1: iOS 10 or above is required
You're now asking, if the integration is happening on the device then with what are we integrating? The answer (drumroll please) is Cisco's newest collaboration service - Cisco Spark
Key takeaway 2: The Cisco Spark iOS app and service are required
That's it on the iOS device! Just make sure iOS 10 or above is installed and the latest version of Cisco Spark ( 1.41 or later).
The Cisco cloud
Now that you know what's happening on the device, let's dig into how the voice and video calls are accessing Cisco services. Cisco Spark utilizes the Cisco Collaboration Cloud. The Cisco Collaboration Cloud is the platform which powers Spark and WebEx. It acts as a center of the universe for mobile Spark apps, web clients, desktop clients as well as phones and TelePresence units.
Key takeaway 3: Users must have an account setup on Cisco Spark
While this post is not about licensing I do feel it is important to mention the required entitlements. Cisco offers a free version of Spark but most organizations will want to take advantage of a paid Spark Plan (many organizations WebEx plans already include Spark entitlements).
More importantly, in order to use your iOS device to make and place calls through the PSTN a Spark calling plan is required. For more information on licensing and trials please contact your Cisco account team or partner.
Key takeaway 4: To make and receive PSTN calls a Spark Business Plan with Calling is required.
Connect to the Public Telephone Network
To cloud or not to cloud, that is the question (elegant I know). PSTN connectivity can be provisioned directly from 3rd party carriers and/or using an existing CUCM deployment via hybrid services.
When provisioned via a carrier directly into the Spark service elements such as SIP trunks, session border controllers, and circuits are avoided. Many plans include unlimited inbound and outbound domestic calling and all plans support E911. Carrier services are provisioned by a Cisco partner and involve a separate contract.
Many organizations already have robust telephony infrastructure. In this case, connecting existing Cisco on premise equipment to the Spark service may make the most sense. This is accomplished through hybrid services. We'll explore this more below.
While PSTN connectivity is not required, it's pretty helpful when you want to contact the other 7.5 billion humans on earth.
Key takeaway 5: Determine a PSTN connectivity model
Options, options, options. Hybrid services allow for as much (or as little) integration to your existing on premise services as desired. While all hybrid services are optional, I'd highly recommend implementing for the best end user experience.
Hybrid is broken down into three individual services:
Directory Service - allows for SSO and simple on-boarding and provisioning via integration with Active Directory
Call Service - allows connectivity to an on premise CUCM or HCS deployment
Call Service Aware - allows Spark to be aware of all calls traversing the CUCM which provides a united call history and notifications
Call Service Connect - provides the ability for users to make and receive calls on a Spark client just as the would from a desk phone
Calendar Service - provides simplified scheduling of meetings and creation of rooms through integration with Exchange Server or Exchange Online (O365). Not to mention, it allows for one of my favorite features. While on my mobile (or any other client) adding @WebEx into the location field of the meeting auto populates the meeting details!