Home » Options Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) Customers Need to Consider

Options Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) Customers Need to Consider

April 26, 2023

Guest Blog Post from Kevin Kieller, EnableUC

Cisco HCS (Hosted Collaboration Solution) is a hosted private Unified Communications offering that incorporates Cisco’s comprehensive, collaboration services for organizations as a cloud service, hosted and delivered by partners that are certified to offer Cisco cloud services. Its success over the last several years has meant these partners have built up a sizable install base of customers and now face a quandary: with the platform now reaching the end of its natural life and Cisco themselves signaling so, just what to do with this customer base over the next twelve months.

Many organizations who had on-premises Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) based collaboration solutions, or other aging premises communications equipment, previously migrated to cloud-based collaboration provided by HCS.

HCS includes tools that allow a service provider to manage multiple customers, including the ability to manage both on-premises and service provider hosted equipment. Virtualization is used to enable multiple instances of the same application to run on the same hardware, so that UC application instances are dedicated to each business.

Source: Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution, Release 14 Solution Reference Network Design Guide

The HCS architecture is sophisticated, requiring significant design expertise to configure and optimize it appropriately to meet the needs of a specific service provider, depending on number and size of existing or planned customers.

Managing, monitoring, and updating application versions is also time-consuming, and can require a service provider to simultaneously support multiple versions of multiple applications, depending on individual customer update cycle preferences.

Today’s Reality

Modern leading unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Cisco Webex are based on a multitenant and CI/CD model (continuous integration and continuous delivery).

The multi-tenant model means that the vendor, not a service provider, is responsible for hosting, monitoring, and managing the UC&C infrastructure. Further, under the CI/CD model, application updates are delivered frequently, often weekly.

For many customers, this modern agile model delivers innovative UCaaS features, such as AI, and security updates at a pace that is better aligned to their business needs and requirements.

Two Paths

Given Cisco has shifted focus away from its HCS offering, Cisco HCS customers typically look to move to either the Cisco Webex Suite or Microsoft Teams. Both are capable solutions recently placed in the leaders quadrant of the Gartner UCaaS Magic Quadrant.

Gartner MQ for UCaaS May 2022

The Attraction of Microsoft Teams

A significant number of organizations are already using Microsoft Office and Microsoft Teams:

  • 365 million paid Commercial Office Seats
  • 280 million monthly active users of Microsoft Teams

From EC2023 Adding Voice to Teams Session

Microsoft Teams, as recently reported at Enterprise Connect, is currently the largest multi-tenant UCaaS telephony provider:

From EC2023 Living in the MultiCaaS Sessio

These facts combined create a desire from many customers and significant opportunity for service providers to consider migrating Cisco HCS telephony seats to Microsoft Teams Voice.

From EC2023 Teams Voice Session


Minimizing the impact on customers when transitioning from one platform to another requires:

  1. Understanding current state configuration;
  2. Identifying gaps in how the destination platform operates; and,
  3. Choosing strategies to address these gaps

When migrating to Microsoft Teams, VOSS Migrate includes a unique discovery and reporting tool to help identify potential gaps and issues when migrating to Microsoft Teams Phone

VOSS Migration Factors Report

Once any migration issues have been identified, typically a combination of technical solutions, including leveraging third-party platform extensions, and change management communication and training are used to help users adopt new capabilities and processes.

For large organizations, migrations typically happen over a period of weeks or months, and even sometimes years. To support an extended migration, during which additional organizational changes will be occurring, an automated process that is able to “batch” and track groups of users for migration is recommended.

Once the migration is complete, the new environment needs to be monitored and managed.

Managing Multiple Teams Tenants

From a service provider perspective, migrating customers from Cisco HCS to Microsoft Teams requires managing multiple Cisco and Teams environments.

The Teams Admin Center provides rudimentary capabilities to list and switch between multiple customer tenants, but no real consolidated management capability (see Multi-tenant management for Microsoft 365 partner admins).

While there are several third-party tools that potentially simplify the management of multiple Teams tenants and also support managing the Cisco environment, VOSS Automate is noteworthy:

  • A long history with Cisco
  • A white-label version of VOSS Automate was originally included by Cisco as the domain management tool in HCS
  • Sophisticated hierarchy (multi-tenant) management
  • VOSS Automate maintains a provider > reseller > customer > site hierarchy
  • Information can be filtered at any level in the hierarchy
  • Management operations can be applied to a specific hierarchy level

The VOSS Automate hierarchy selector

The VOSS and Microsoft Pivot Program

To capitalize on the demand for Microsoft Teams Voice and to unlock potential for both service providers and customers, the Microsoft Pivot Program was launched in September of 2022 and expanded in March of 2023. The program helps service providers and large enterprises pivot from traditional platforms, such as HCS, to Microsoft’s cloud-based collaboration environment, including:

  • A range of planning and enablement services
  • An automated migration path to move end customers to the cloud
  • UC performance and automation management toolset
  • Engagement with Microsoft

The Teams Ecosystem Potential

Moving HCS seats to Microsoft Teams unlocks potential for both the customer and service provider.

For the customer:

  1. Enables existing Microsoft licensing to be optimized to drive efficiencies and cost savings.
  2. Integrates telephony into a single communication and collaboration environment delivering a standardized user experience, better analytics, latest feature and security updates, and a consolidated knowledge base to leverage AI advancements (see recent Microsoft 365 Copilot announcement).
  3. Provides access to a larger ecosystem of personal, office, and meeting room devices.
  4. Increases the opportunity to automate and streamline repetitive business processes.

For the service provider:

  1. Enables a rationalization and controlled run down of the Cisco HCS hosting platforms while moving and retaining services with existing customers – delivering cost savings.
  2. Provides potential to expand service and management capabilities to encompass broader Office 365 productivity suite, including SharePoint.
  3. Opens opportunity to help customers automate business processes using Power Platform tools (Power BI, Power Apps, Power Pages, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents).
  4. Positions service provider to deliver adjacent employee experience services leveraging the Microsoft Viva suite.