Understanding the difference between Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams
When it comes to selecting the right workstream collaboration platform for your organization, there are quite a few to consider — Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Teams, Slack, Workplace from Facebook and more. We’ve previously discussed the variety of unified communications (UC) platforms and how to select the right video conferencing platform, but how do companies decide on a collaboration platform? The decision is especially difficult when it comes to Microsoft Teams vs. Cisco Webex Teams.
Obviously, there’s no correct answer, as there are many factors unique to each business to consider as part of the decision process. But our experience shows that if you compare core features, telephony extensions, pricing, security, room systems and integrations for both Microsoft Teams and Webex Teams, you’ll be able to swiftly emerge with the best choice.
Features of Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams comparison points
As more and more companies move to create workstream collaboration platforms, the number of unique-to-the-platform features is becoming increasingly smaller. This isn’t just true for workstream collaboration platforms but for UC platforms as well.
Just to underscore — both platforms have one-to-one chats, group chats, guest access, online meetings, video calls, screen sharing, file storage, calendaring, etc. So what features do make each platform unique?
Microsoft Teams offers cloud PBX-only telephony (as opposed to Microsoft’s Skype for Business, which has both cloud and on-premises options) as well as public switched telephone network (PSTN) services with the Microsoft Calling Plan. Direct routing is also available for organizations that do not want to use the Microsoft-based calling plans and would instead like to utilize their own session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking services and carriers.
As for Cisco Webex Teams, it leverages Jabber and its own Unified Communications Manager and Hosted Collaboration Suite platforms. It offers three different approaches to fit customer needs: Webex Calling for small and midsize businesses, and on-premises or single-tenant platforms hosted by a partner when it comes to large customers. Cisco’s PSTN access comes from partners such as IntelePeer, West and ThinkTel.
The pricing story can be a bit complicated for special licensing requirements and the number of licenses and services needed when it comes to making comparisons of Cisco Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams. But stripping everything down to the bare minimum here is where Microsoft Teams is the clear front-runner. Not only does Microsoft Teams have a robust free version (with some limitations on scheduled meetings, recorded meetings and audio conferencing), but with the cheapest Office 365 plan (Business Essentials), Microsoft Teams’ pricing drops as low as $5 per user, per month. Cisco has a much more limited free version as well as a few different pricing plans. The cheapest way to get full access to Webex Teams comes with a Webex Meeting subscription that costs $13.50 per user, per month. Calling service add-ons will increase this price for both Cisco and Microsoft.
The benefits of both Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams are that they have the support of two behemoth companies. This support is important for enterprise organizations because security is not optional for businesses of this magnitude. While the platforms both offer security in their development and building, they also offer a multitude of tools and options for organizations to remain secure.
Microsoft Teams was built on the Office 365 hyper-scale, enterprise-grade cloud, which means it provides the same security enjoyed by the rest of the Office 365 platform. It also delivers tools and features for organizations, such as a security and compliance center, eDiscovery, legal hold, compliance content search, archive, retention and audit logs. It features a deeply rooted architecture of protection because the tools are integrated throughout the Office 365 suite. Plus, third-party software, like PowerSuite, can be added for a more robust approach to collaboration security.
Cisco Webex Teams, like Microsoft, has a long list of certifications to back up its security claims. The tools provided to organizations include eDiscovery, unique device PINs, idle time-out, flexible retention of content and more. Cisco differs from Microsoft in that it provides slightly more control at a user level, as opposed to offering features only administrators can set. While this may be a win for end users, it can be problematic for those who are untrained or for IT admins and security teams who may have stricter policies than the end users themselves.
Cisco Webex Teams builds on the legacy of Cisco meeting room hardware available within the Cisco stack. For enterprises already heavily invested in Cisco meeting room technology, there’s a lot to like. There are several options to choose from, including options with turnkey video collaboration and kits to connect with 4K displays. Cisco also has RoomOS, which gives an overview of new features and capabilities available for Cisco Webex registered room and desk devices (and Webex Boards).
Microsoft Teams’ Rooms offer much greater flexibility and variety of hardware options, featuring partners including Yealink, Logitech, Crestron, Poly, Lenovo and HP. There are over a dozen different options (and growing) that support a variety of room sizes and offer features like proximity detection, one touch-join, companion experiences with mobile and support for dual-screen rooms. For enterprises with a large number of meeting room deployments, it can be advantageous to consider meeting room management for cost-effective peace of mind for room systems and end-user experience.
The Microsoft Teams vs. Webex Teams integrations list really isn’t a “wow” factor in comparison to competitor Slack, which offers a broad set of integration opportunities. Yet there is a slight distinction to make. Microsoft Teams is tightly integrated with Office 365, building its case for being the collaboration hub for your organization — and it has a growing list of applications and bots available in its App Store. The Cisco value-add comes for those who already have an installed base of Cisco voice and video endpoints and a fairly long list of Webex Teams apps available in their App Hub.
App management can be an onerous task for IT and security teams. Different apps require different levels of permissions and come with inherent risks that need to be properly vetted.
The verdict in the Microsoft Teams vs. Cisco Webex Teams debate
Despite appearing similar at a high level, Microsoft and Cisco ultimately have different overall company directions. Microsoft Teams rolls up into the broader Office 365 story surrounding productivity and collaboration, while Webex Teams is part of a larger Cisco meeting and conference story with a legacy hardware focus. In most cases, Microsoft Teams makes the most sense — especially if you’re already an Office 365 user. Cisco Webex Teams may be the right answer if you’re already heavily invested within the Cisco environment — but IT teams should beware of the limited toolsets available to help effectively monitor, manage and secure your UC and workstream collaboration environments.
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