Cisco's $150M investment in Spark ecosystem, APIs could boost its popularity with developers

Dan Kobialka, FierceDeveloperSearching for a new app development tool that combines team messaging, meetings and phone calls in the cloud? Look no further than Cisco Spark, an integrated and cloud-based collaboration service.

Cisco released Spark in December, and the service enables users to set up video rooms and connect their phones to the cloud. It also lets companies of all sizes buy messaging, meeting and calling from the cloud in a subscription model, paying for services per user per month.

Furthermore, Spark gives developers free rein, providing them with open application programming interfaces (APIs) they can use to create apps designed to extend the value of Spark.

Today, Cisco Spark for Developers is available for developers, which Cisco describes as "a huge step towards opening up the power behind the Spark app to anyone seeking to extend the Spark experience."

And with Spark for Developers's initial APIs, developers can:

  • Create a virtual meeting room and invite people.

  • Search for people in their company.

  • Post messages into a room.

  • Get room history or be notified in real-time when new messages are posted by others.

Spark for Developers could transform the collaboration process for developers and empower them to create new, innovative apps that leverage Spark's capabilities as well. 

Cisco is making it simple for developers to design and deploy Spark apps without delay, too.

The company offers a quick reference guide and samples and tutorials to help developers build their Spark skill sets. Plus, Cisco this month invested $150 million in its Spark ecosystem "to cover direct investments, joint development, additional enhancements and developer support."

At least one developer, Tagnos, has already taken advantage of Spark's capabilities, using the Spark APIs to develop an app designed to reduce hospital wait times. The developer recently outlined how it used the Spark APIs to create this app:

"Tagnos uses Cisco Spark APIs to automate the creation of a patient-specific Spark room when there are exceptions, so everyone can weigh in on how to resolve it ASAP. ... Care providers can easily be notified to join the Spark room from an SMS message or a Spark notification. Spark includes messaging, file sharing and voice and video chat where the team can work together from any device to resolve issues."

Spark's collaboration capabilities could make these APIs exceedingly valuable for developers, enabling them to design and deploy apps in a number of verticals. As such, Spark could prove to be a popular choice for developers going forward, especially if Cisco continues to invest in its Spark ecosystem. -- Dan