Cisco is one of the largest companies in the world, with major products including networking, security, telecommunications equipment and software. It brings in billions of dollars every year, and it has numerous business units, all competing for resources and recognition. But it has one major product that we are interested in: Webex.
Webex offers meetings, calling, messaging and webinars, resulting in a suite of applications that should be able to handle most business needs — or so it claims. The reality is a little different, mainly because the solution is seen as expensive, unwieldy and often lacking innovation. We will dive into that a little more later. However, while Cisco still excels in networking and security, Wildix is often chosen instead of Webex even when other Cisco products are used due to a much more flexible platform.
History of Webex
The story of Webex starts in 1996 in California. But its first product was a subscription-based service for businesses to improve internal meetings and collaboration. In 2003, it added video conferencing, and it became attractive enough for Cisco to acquire in 2007. Cisco brought considerable expertise to the platform, developing it further.
This wasn’t without issues, however. In 2015, Cisco Spark was supposed to be the evolution of Webex, yet it failed to attract much interest. As a result, it was rolled back into Webex in 2018. The process wasn’t clean. The two solutions had diverged, and many of the improvements that had happened to Cisco Spark had to be integrated into Webex. Similarly, there were multiple business units involved, which resulted in confusion in terms of tech support internally. Who was responsible when a feature broke? Complicating this matter was the acquisition of Broadsoft in 2017, resulting in the creation of yet another business unit devoted to unified communications, and don’t forget Cisco Jabber, which was discontinued in 2015.
This means that there were four separate business units all focused on the same essential services:
- Cisco Spark
Naturally, this made a lot more work for partners. Although Broadsoft partners were kept relatively separate, there was still some substantial overlap, and there are suggestions that there were some significant issues with integrating the solutions.
Yet all of this happened around six years ago. So has much changed from an internal perspective?
Well, there are still portals open for Broadsoft partners, yet most Broadsoft staff are now Cisco staff. Essentially, they have been absorbed into the organization, which you would expect. There are still Cisco Spark-based products, rebranded as Webex, such as Cisco Webex Calling. And Cisco Jabber is still widely in use, despite being end of life in 2023. So ultimately, it looks like Cisco has rebadged, rebranded and absorbed these units but still have separate staff dealing with each of them.
For Cisco Webex MSPs, this can result in difficulties when trying to solve an issue.
History of Wildix
By comparison, Wildix has a much simpler history. Founded in Trento, Italy, in 2005, the company has long developed its own solutions, and it remains independent even today. Acquisitions have been minimal, and they have not been absorbed into the product. This means that Wildix solutions have a continuous development line that is clearly marked and logged, with impressive documentation and a continuous vision.
Because we haven’t had to absorb numerous business units into our product, we maintain consistency, with an easy-to-understand codebase. For MSPs, this means that our products generally work as expected and can be worked with via our open APIs.
What Does Webex Offer?
Like many of its competitors — but unlike Wildix — Webex offers a free layer. There are also licenses called Meet, Suite and Enterprise. Here’s a quick rundown of what each license layer offers.
|Number of attendees
|Whiteboard, team messaging, local meeting recordings
|Closed captions, cohosting privileges, live polling
|10GB cloud meeting recording, long-distance calls, international calling
|Local and unlimited cloud meeting recording
So far, so good. But is it really?
The problem is that that’s just the meeting options — which don’t include a dial-in option. If you want to dial in, that’s an additional $42.25 per month (just to access meetings via your phone). Meeting translations in real-time is an additional $30 per month.
So let’s look at their calling options.
To have a phone number, you need either Call, Suite or Enterprise. So the only new one there is Call. It’s essentially a hidden licensing layer:
|Business phone number with calling enabled via the Webex app and Cisco IP phones
|Billed per minute
|Extensions, co-host privileges and advanced noise cancellation
Other Webex Solutions
Other solutions include webinars, events, contact center and CPaaS.
|Webex Contact Center
|Provides live or on-demand streaming with content sharing, speaker management and practice sessions, along with moderation
|Delivers registration, badge printing, event apps and monetization of in-person, virtual and hybrid events
|Provides a connected customer journey with voice, email, chat, SMS and messaging channels. CRM integrations include Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and Service Now
|Provides communication across multiple channels, including SMS, Apple messages, RCS, as well as APIs and low-code tools to deliver new customer journeys
|From $56.25 a month
So while Cisco Webex doesn’t have the same complexity as some competitors, notably Mitel and Avaya, it still offers a range of solutions that require some heavy tweaking. It also offers some solutions that Wildix doesn’t currently provide — notably the solutions that Events provides and some CPaaS functionality (although that is rapidly changing).
It’s difficult to compare these plans directly to Wildix as the focus is slightly different: the Wildix Blue Ecosystem is UCaaS first.
|Make and receive calls with voicemail and LDAP
|Group meetings and website integration
|Managers and supervisors for productivity
|One-on-one video calls
|CDR-View and Business Intelligence
We also have Wizywebinar, which provides webinar functionality as an add-on.
For MSPs, however, the problem with Webex is that we were able to obtain all this pricing with a quick web search — and end users will be able to do so as well. Cisco solutions are generally seen as a more expensive option, as noted in the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant.
Making this more complex is that Webex requires a physical download before you can access any of this functionality. This can create problems, especially when it comes to nonstandard systems, notably Linux-based systems. Similarly, if security policies block downloads, it can be difficult for other users to communicate via Webex, compared to communication solutions such as Wildix that take place entirely within the browser.
Reviews and Feedback on Webex
The lack of adequate tech support is one of the more common reasons to move from Cisco — both by end-users and MSPs. However, one of the big dislikes from an MSP’s point of view is having to get Cisco TAC involved, which is described as being slow and causing “a big delay with resolution.” Other users report issues with the way the interface works, and one of the more recent reviews suggested Cisco Webex deleted a lot of historic recordings, which is a huge problem if you are legally required to store them.
And from our own partners, some of whom were onboarded this year, we’ve discussed issues of outages, a lack of willingness to invest in partners and a general lack of differentiation from Mitel or Avaya solutions. Part of this is because Cisco is still seen as a legacy provider, in the same way that Avaya and Mitel are. For an MSP who is looking to gain market share, the lack of an adequate cloud solution is a critical issue.
Obviously, there are a number of positive reviews, as well — you don’t grow as big as Cisco without having at least a halfway decent product. But overall, the Webex Meeting Suite is rated 4.4 on the Gartner Peer Insights, while Webex Calling gets only 4.3 out of 5.
Wildix gets 4.6 out of 5, thanks to its large number of five-star reviews. Wildix reviews talk about how it’s affordable, a great small/medium business phone system, that it’s reliable and that it’s worry-free. These are all what you want to hear if you are an MSP or an end-user.
Value For Money: Wildix vs Webex
As far as MSPs are concerned, Wildix offers far better value for money than Webex ever can. The problem with Cisco Webex is that it makes its pricing public. As an MSP, you can’t always compete with that — because why would an end-user buy from you when they can get the solution at the same (or potentially lower) price directly from the vendor? And when the vendor is pushing free software to draw customers in, it’s incredibly hard to compete.
Never mind your years of expertise and ability to handle and customize the product. It’s simply not sustainable.
These public pricelists and direct competition result in MSPs being left out in the cold — and priority will always be delivered to big accounts that are directly installed by Cisco engineers. MSPs will always be second in the running compared to Cisco’s own clients.
In addition, Cisco Webex is reportedly a much more expensive option — and this is borne out by their own published prices. The most basic license is free, but businesses generally cannot use the free licenses that effectively. So they generally need to start at the Webex Meet price point, for a product that is roughly the equivalent of a Wildix UC-Essential license but at a much higher cost.
Because Wildix doesn’t publish its price information to end-users, MSPs can set their own prices confidently. In addition, because Wildix doesn’t compete with its own partners, there’s no conflict of interest when assigning tech support — in fact, our ultra-fast tech support is something we are very proud of, and our CTO is involved in day-to-day operations.
That’s because we are not a huge conglomerate where Webex is only one business unit competing for resources within the wider Cisco ecosystem.
Can Wildix Complement Cisco in a Portfolio?
We spent a lot of time criticizing Webex, and for good reason. However, Cisco has a huge range of products that are essential for networking and security. Within a portfolio that includes Cisco as an on-prem solution, Wildix makes an excellent addition for those who need to offer cloud communication services. After all, even we recognize the old saying, “Nobody got fired for going with Cisco.”
Wildix can be positioned as the more flexible option, and because it delivers more margin to MSPs and is typically lower cost compared to equivalent Cisco systems, it can help provide better growth and better stability. For businesses that want to grow, Wildix is often the preferred choice, especially due to its impressive array of integrations, services and customizability.
If you’d like to read more comparisons of our solutions, review our Wildix vs 3CX article from 2022 (before the major security incident!).
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