Compare Cisco Spark with Microsoft Teams

We recently published an article by Dominic Kent on the Microsoft Teams versus Cisco Spark debate and I’m keen to further the discussion on my blog as 2018 continues to unfold.

Microsoft Teams 2017/18 Facts

  • Microsoft Teams was released March 2017
  • Microsoft Teams is set to replace Skype for Business
  • Features are being developed into Teams at a rate of knots
  • Teams is not yet a viable PBX replacement but an very good collaboration platform
  • Teams only just got PSTN calling (and some countries have not yet got the updated version as of FEB 2018)
  • Teams is not available as an on-premise solution, it’s only available on subscription from the cloud-based Office 365 platform.
  • You can now manage Microsoft Teams via PowerShell
  • In 2017 Microsoft Teams improved the user activity reports and app usage reporting capabilities.
  • You can now store your MS Teams data locally in the UK
  • Maximum team size was recently increased to 2500 members
  • Can I run Microsoft Teams independently of Office 365 online? You need to have an Office 365 subscription. Microsoft Teams isn’t being sold as a separate “standalone” service.
  • Teams does not support an always on – ‘personal meeting room’ feature
  • Teams is now supported in a browser using WebRTC technology, meaning no more software plugin to install before you use it. Sweeeeeet!

Cisco Spark 2017/18 Facts

  • Cisco Spark was released December 2015
  • Spark Hybrid Services exists to connect your on-prem world to your cloud based collaboration platform – this feature enables Spark to make and receive external calls via the PSTN.
  • You can connect Spark to Cisco Communications Manager (CCM), Business Edition Series and HCS.
  • Spark has native integrations, 3rd party integrations and an API for developers to work with.
  • Cisco believe they were the first to deliver end-to-end message encryption and compliance on a team collaboration app.
  • Spark now has fluid analytics which is is available for both Cisco Spark and Cisco® WebEx®
  • Cisco are BIG on security – Customers can now run a key server on the premises to encrypt and decrypt all content sent to Cisco Spark
  • Cisco Spark Control Hub is an advanced tool included with Cisco Spark allowing administrators to provision, administer, and manage their entire Cisco Spark service
  • Cisco Spark support personal meeting rooms
  • You can record meetings
  • Join from any endpoint, even 3rd party
  • Cisco has native Spark hardware options also: Spark Room Systems, Spark Board and IP Deskphones.
  • Cisco Spark has virtual reality pretty much ready to go which enables virtual meetings in a mixed reality environment. Very coooool, say goodbye to the 2D meeting experience. See here.


Join the Discussion…

I need more good quality facts! What can they do and what can’t they do?

If you can contribute your personal experience or knowledge of either product please comment here. I’ll add any worthy points to the list above. Cheers, Rob


  1. Guest access is a key differentiator between the 2 products:
    For Teams, guest access relies on the guest participant having a O365 Work or School account, it is driven by Azure AD, so you cannot, for example just add a guest based on a generic email address. With Spark, anyone can be added as a guest based on an email address, and guests can sign up without a subscription.

    Also consider, when a guest is added to Teams, the guest is added to that company’s AAD as a guest, meaning that if you are a guest into multiple organizations Teams environment, you will have context switching and multiple logging in activities. Does adding guests into your AAD mean you have to pay for them too ??

    In Cisco Spark, your identity is central and you can be in multiple organizations Spark Rooms with a single log-in, regardless of if you are an organization member or guest.

      • Hi Rob,

        Yes you can use the Spark Web access for calling too .

        Other things of note you can add to your list for Spark –
        Whiteboarding – including link between virtual and physical devices (e.g. Spark Board)
        Proximity integration, for both mobile voice and content sharing
        @Spark – automated Spark room set up from calendar invites, just add @Spark in the meeting location and all the attendees will be invited into a newly created Spark room
        Spark Care – Customer Contact
        Swipe calls between devices – e.g. Start a Spark call on your mobile, walk to a meeting room and simply swipe the call onto the SparkBoard without interruption to the call

  2. Your Teams description is only a part of the story. To understand the what/why of where they are headed and how it’s happening so fast, your readers need to understand that the UC team at Microsoft is porting many features from Skype for Business to Teams. The core code exists, and it’s all hands on deck moving items over. So, when you say it’s not a viable PBX replacement, just give it a couple of days and it might be! 🙂 Being 100% cloud based also eases development and allows Microsoft to turn on new features much faster than on-prem or hybrid deployments.

    What REALLY excites me about Teams are the vast array of endpoints that are moving over from Skype. The Smartdocks from Logitech/Polycom/Crestron/etc are all fascinating, but the Surface Hub is the crown jewel of collaboration boards. The Skype experience is good on the Hubs, but they’ve halted development of that in favor of Teams. The Hub is large Windows10 device and Teams is being built as an app. So, the Teams app will be developed independently of Win10 and features and updates will be released on their own schedule instead of patch Tuesday.

    • The roadmap is great for Teams agreed. But right now buyers need to distinguish between availability and capability. We use Teams in house and without the Skype for Business Online element it would be a pretty poor PBX replacement. Even SfB online (Office 365 edition) isn’t a great PBX, it lacks so many basic features that businesses have come to expect from a telephone system. Hopefully Microsoft will code all the Skype for Business Server Edition features in soon and customers will have a great solution.

  3. Cisco is investing $1M in Adelaide, AU to reduce traffic congestion and pave a path for autonomous vehicles (TechRepublic) The city of Adelaide is in the midst of a smart city pilot program with Cisco that is intended to cut down on traffic delays through the use of tailored algorithms.


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