Amid this global pandemic, remote collaboration tools have never been more imperative to ensuring business continuity. Companies have already switched over to a solution like Zoom or WebEx, but as time goes on, the security and reliability of these products sit under constant scrutiny. While articles from both parties continue to surface placing each under lackluster lighting, nobody seems to be speaking to their overall benefits and history comparatively.
Zoom Video Communications was launched in 2011 by former Cisco employee Eric Yuan. Eric wanted to start a company that allowed simplified accessibility to a product that provided the general public a means to host a group chat online at an affordable price. Their model was designed to give friends the same experience they would have hanging out together in person, but remotely. Zoom had created a platform that had superior video quality and a very user-friendly interface. Their launch was not as popular from the start due to the competition that already existed like Skype or GoToMeeting until COVID-19 reared its ugly head. The company launched a strong marketing campaign that soon found the company inundated with clients. Soon after companies started signing on to use the service, awareness of the company’s initial privacy agreement fell under scrutiny. It offered third-parties access to client’s information, there was no encryption, users’ meetings were interrupted by uninvited joiners, and sensitive information was able to be accessed easily by hackers and third-party partners.
Their model was designed to give friends the same experience they would have hanging out together in person, but remotely.
As news of this flooded the internet, the company realized that to maintain its user base they had to implement some serious changes. Mid-March of 2020 saw the first updates to their security procedures, but they had a long way to go as companies requiring enterprise-level security continued to ban the use of their service. Since then, the company has made some drastic improvements to its privacy agreement and terms while maintaining its affordability. The company still allows their third-parties access to certain information as part of their marketing strategy and analytics, and for companies that share client-sensitive information during their conversations, this does not settle too well.
WebEx was founded in 1995 by Subrah Iyar and Min Zhu and was later acquired in 2007 by tech-giant Cisco. It was one of the first SaaS platforms on the internet. Upon Cisco’s acquisition of the product, WebEx had a rough user interface but was widely accepted by companies due to its heavy security implementations and Cisco’s reputation for offering enterprise-level reliability and scalability. WebEx and Cisco’s additional products allow for users to quickly move between multiple devices with their product with ease, allowing a user to switch their work phone to a softphone (cell phone or internet) at the click of a button, and host meetings that allowed users to branch off into break out groups for training or to divide meetings. Their product came at a higher price tag than most due to the level of security and hosting the service required. It was a non-viable option for users that simply wanted to hop on a video call with Mom and Dad to talk about Christmas plans with the kids. When COVID-19 struck, Cisco’s servers were pushed to their limits, and Cisco’s service saw one of its first widespread outages since its launch. Fortunately, this only lasted for a mere two hours before everything was back up and running, but Cisco, knowing Zoom was riding their coattails on the enterprise front, had to step up their game if they were to stay ahead.
Cisco’s service saw one of its first widespread outages since its launch. Fortunately, this only lasted for a mere two hours before everything was back up and running
Like most of Cisco’s products, WebEx prioritized security as the most important aspect of its platform. While the overall look and feel of the user interface were bulky and awkward initially, continual development of the product rendered a cleaner, more accessible interface that we see today. While WebEx does not find itself in the hands of everyone looking to make video chatrooms for friends, they have found their way into most companies around the globe.
Comparatively, both are great collaboration tools but are specific to their user base. WebEx is a solution for companies to host secure meetings and Zoom for a more casual experience. Zoom has made some headway into the enterprise market since its launch, but most companies still require a bit more from them regarding security. Overall, it comes down to what specifically you are looking for in a solution. If you are looking to have a secure means to reach your team with reliability on a platform developed specifically for organizations, WebEx is the clear answer. If what you are looking for is a way to sip whiskey and chat with friends or host a dance party from home, Zoom would be your best bet.