Microsoft Skype for Business vs Cisco Webex Meetings vs Zoom

Written by Elina

On 11th December 2018
Should I go for Cisco Webex Meetings, Zoom or Skype for Business? What do they cost? Which one integrates best with my existing technologies? In the CIO office, this is a question keeping many busy! And, I have heard many heated conversations between the hardcore fans of each vendor.

What does each service do?

  • Webex Meetings allows users to meet face-to-face from a desktop, laptop, mobile device or video conferencing unit. It uses the reliable Cisco infrastructure and integrates with Webex Teams as well as with other prominent vendors such as Microsoft.
  • Zoom allows users to meet face-to-face seamlessly from a web browser, from the desktop app or the mobile app. Zoom rapidly grew in the last few years and conquered many by its ease of use, quality and reliability.   
  • Skype for Business combines the features of the popular consumer video calling platform Skype and the strong Microsoft Lync capabilities. It integrates with many key Microsoft applications, but also well-known software providers such as Salesforce.

If you compare the options offered by the 3 services, you will notice it is for the vast majority the same. But, keep in mind their original purpose, which can give you some interesting insights into how each service grew:

  • Webex was built to answer the demand of meeting in real time to discuss documents. Video and chat are additions that were added later.
  • Zoom is primarily a video-centric meeting app. It was built by ex-Webex engineers, who were frustrated by the rigid code limiting the platform growth. 
  • Skype for Business is originally a messaging app that outgrew itself, with other possibilities like video and application sharing being added.

Skype for Business vs Webex Meetings vs Zoom feature comparison

Here is a quick comparison table. It is not aimed at showing the whole offering but rather at a glance picture. 

Skype for Business  Cisco Webex Meetings Zoom
Market position 2 1 3
Max number of participants Up to 250 Up to 1000 Up to 100
External participants  ✅
Share  ✅  ✅  ✅
Take control  ✅  ✅  ✅
Whiteboard  ✅  ✅  ✅
Instant messaging  ✅  ✅  ✅
Annotation tools  ✅  ✅  ✅
Desktop app  ✅  ✅  ✅
iOS app  ✅  ✅  ✅
Android app  ✅  ✅  ✅
VOIP  ✅  ✅  ✅
Call in
Call back
Connection to video endpoints External solutions provided
Facebook broadcasts
Personal Meeting Room
Integrations  ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Integration to 3rd party audio providers End of life April 2019
Join in one click   ❌
Cloud storage 1TB for clients of O365 1GB 1GB
Ease of use ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  ⭐️⭐️⭐️  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Price Between $5.00 and $35 per user per month Between $19 and $39 per host per month Up to $19.99

Skype for Business, Webex, Zoom: How much will it cost?

You can easily find the different “official” packages offered by each vendor on their website. In general, they’ll look something like:

  • Skype for Business: between $5.00 and $35 per user per month
  • Webex: Between $19 and $39 per host per month
  • Zoom: Up to $19.99

But each company should contact directly for an individual quote. What we do know is that depending on the number of licences you buy, the type of audio package you negotiate, and of course how good you are at bargaining, the costs could dramatically change compared to those you can easily find on each vendor’s page.

Skype for Business, Webex, Zoom: who is leading the market?

At the beginning of the year (2018), it seemed obvious that Zoom, founded in 2011, was a real threat for the Cisco offering. Not only was it easier to join a Zoom meeting, but the options within the meeting were also simpler and the quality was impeccable. Cisco is still the leader in the Gartner Magic quadrant but they can definitely feel the heat from Zoom.

Webex, founded in 1995, is a well-established and robust solution with a consistent experience throughout the years. But during the summer, Cisco reacted by launching a revamped version of Webex making the service more video-centric than ever before. This was the most drastic transformation ever! Webex Teams also saw its share of upgrades introducing key features to strengthen its position. The integration of Webex Meetings with Webex Teams now gives an advantage to Cisco as meetings rarely happen alone but rather within the course of other collaboration activities. 

Skype for Business’ major advantage is being part of the Microsoft suite. But in order for companies to have a truly great experience, near-magic needs to happen between bandwidth, technology and user experience. Skype for Business’ reliability has been called into question, but as a key player throughout Microsoft-centric companies, we don’t see them going away any time soon. With the “upgrade” to Microsoft Teams for all customers in the not too distant future, perhaps we’ll see them make a play for Cisco’s dominance.

Skype for Business, Webex, Zoom: which one do we advise?

We are often asked for advice about which one to choose. The choice will depend on all kind of factors within your company. The number of people in meetings, infrastructure, existing vendors, use of video endpoints, etc. 

  • Skype for Business can sometimes end up being more expensive than Webex because of quality issues and time to fix problems. But if your infrastructure rests on many Microsoft products, you will have fewer vendors to contact when something happens. 
  • If you just want to have meetings with great quality and ease of use, Zoom will be your friend. But if you are looking for a more robust experience outside of meetings, Zoom might not be your preferred choice. The support experience, when needed, is also mostly pleasant.
  • Webex Meetings is robust, has an impeccable quality even though it can sometimes be challenging to newbies.  But, if you need to integrate your meeting experience with the whole collaboration journey, before, during, and after the meeting, all within one service, I would recommend Webex. 

But don’t forget the key element: at the end of the day, this is primarily about people. They can make the technology a great success with an amazing return on investment, or break it. So, be next year’s hero by selecting the technology your people are truly waiting for.

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