Webex Update – Transition FAQ
Webex is the University’s primary audio and video conferencing platform, provided as a cloud service by Cisco Systems. IS does not charge back to departments or individuals for use of the system for university business for coursework.
An audio conference enables multiple people to dial in from any phone or connect by means of an app on a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet to hold a virtual meeting from anywhere in the world.
Similar to an audio conference, video may be added to any conference as long as a compatible device is available to capture and display the video. These devices can include one of the new Cisco VoIP phones currently being deployed, a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Some years ago Wake Forest was among the first Universities in the country to make conferencing services widely available to the whole institution. At the same time, IS, the Law School, the Business School, and other campus constituents began investing in video conferencing-capable meeting room equipment. As the new telephone system components have been deployed, IS has leveraged both investments to integrate regular telephone calling and more advanced features such as audio and video conferencing. While there are other systems capable of one feature or another, no other platform delivers this deep integration with our email, meeting spaces, devices, and telephone system.
No, we did not have a choice. Cisco hosts Webex in several data centers, each being assigned a different week between July and August. Our data center happens to be assigned August 11. An update such as this, in which new features are delivered on a certain date is typical for software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings.
There’s a short video on the Cisco website that does a good job of introducing the update.
Among the common requests we get include an easier way to acquire the client, a 5×5 grid of people during a call, easier meeting scheduling, and a simplified user experience. We believe the update addresses all of these concerns and more.
Students, faculty, and staff have equal access to all of the platform, including scheduling, personal rooms, calling from cell phones, and making recordings. Users will be able to access Webex through the URL (webex.wfu.edu) and gain access to the system with their standard Deacnet credentials.
At one point Cisco had signaled some re-branding that might occur regarding the Webex platform. Some of the features that were to have been included in Spark are being added to Webex through a new application called “Webex Teams.” IS is currently testing this application and will be making a future announcement about this extension of the Webex platform as soon as the feature set has stabilized.
We anticipate further integration with our Cisco VoIP phone system, including the ability to make and receive University system phone calls from computers, smartphones, and tablets; the ability to share your screen in meeting rooms outfitted with appropriate equipment; and the ability to chat and collaborate with colleagues from within and beyond Wake Forest.
Webex services and the integrations with our VoIP telephone system are the primary platforms for audio and video conferencing at Wake Forest and are made available without impact to departmental budgets. If you have needs you believe exceed Webex’s capabilities, please submit a request to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to consult with you on your needs and possible solutions.
IS is developing walkthroughs and job aids to assist you in getting set up and acquainted with Webex. We will hold at least two general meetings in August (close to the update) and September. IS Client Support team members will be reaching out to frequent users of the Webex platform. There is also additional training on Cisco’s website and watch for Webex training on the PDC website this fall.