Cisco Announces Fund to Fuel App Development on Spark Platform

Cisco Spark, a unified Cloud Platform providing Messaging, Meeting, and Call features has announced itself to developers by heralding the Cisco Spark Developers Fund. Cisco has pledged $150m to the fund and wants to encourage developers to build collaboration apps on the Spark Service.

The collaboration market has been dominated of late by Slack, which has seen its users rise in the last few years. One of the reasons for the success of Slack has been not just its users but developers, who have been provided a platform to build applications via the Slack APIs. This has been further fueled by the ecosystem of partners, a marketplace and a recently announced Slack Fund to boost developers committed to the platform.

For developers familiar with the Slack platform, the Cisco Spark platform will look similar with comparable features and in some cases, a clear focus from the start on powerful media capabilities in the platform via voice calling, meeting and more.

All 3 services that form the basis of the Cisco Spark Service : Message, Meeting and Call are available to customers in the United States. Messaging and Meeting are available in another 30 countries.

The Cisco Spark Developers Portal contains everything to get started with development on the platform. The key concept to begin development on the Spark Platform is that of a Virtual Meeting Room, which is where members collaborate. The Spark platform provides APIs to manage Rooms, People, Memberships and Messages. These are REST APIs and they also come along with official client SDKs in Java and JavaScript at this point. Just like there are Bots in Slack that React to messages in teams (or rooms in the case of Spark), you can write the same in Cisco Spark via Webhooks. Custom Integrations are few at this point in time compared to Slack but it is just a matter of time. Built right into the platform are telephony services from Tropo, a firm that Cisco acquired.

Organizations are challenging the very nature in which we work by reinventing tools and processes; the platforms offered by Slack and Cisco Spark are likely to see multiple innovations built on top of them. Cisco with its deep reach in enterprise will surely push the platform aggressively and as compared to Slack, it has less traction with developers at the moment but that in itself is a great opportunity for developers who would want to get in early in the game.

The Cisco Spark Fund will cover direct investments, joint development, additional enhancements and developer support. You can get more details on Cisco Spark Fund, including applying for it, over here.

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