With the boom of telecommuting and the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic still prevailing, video conferencing has become a major part of the daily workflow. So, like millions of others around the globe, it’s more likely that you’re working from home. Video conferencing software is your best bet at staying connected. Even though there are lots of services to choose from, Zoom and Webex have established themselves as the leaders. So, which one should you choose? Zoom vs Webex—what’s the difference?
In this article, we’ll compare the key features of both the video conferencing software and see how they stack up against each other.
Before we get started, let’s first try to understand what video conferencing is.
What is Video Conferencing?
Video conferencing is a technology-based innovation that receives and transmits high-quality audio and video signals between two systems in real-time. Hence, it makes communication across different continents easier and more efficient. Businesses have made use of this technology to hold virtual meetings and presentations without ever having to worry about the location.
What is Zoom?
Founded by a former Cisco employee Eric Yuan, in 2021, it’s safe to say Zoom is one of the most popular choices of people when it comes to video conferencing tools. It’s the ideal tool for any business with a wide array of features like video webinars, Zoom Rooms, online meetings, and group messaging.
It’s an easy-to-use platform, well-optimized to offer seamless service to all users. As of the end of March this year, they hit a gargantuan 200 million daily active participants. Click here to understand Zoom’s business model in detail.
What is Webex?
Webex comes from a company that’s been in business since 1995, Cisco. With its experience in the marketplace, Webex is trying to trump its opponents by offering services that make it easier for businesses to communicate.
With Webex, it becomes easy to organize events, webinars, and video conferences. It’s grown at an unprecedented 2.5 times in the Americas, 4 times in Europe, and more than 3.5 times in the Asia Pacific.
Zoom vs Webex comparison
Now that we have a good idea of what each platform claims to provide, let’s compare them side by side using certain key parameters:
Cisco Webex vs Zoom: Setup
Since video conferencing tools like Zoom or Webex require the use of microphones and webcams, it can take a while to set them up. Both platforms require the installment of software onto your phone or personal computer. You may also run into some minimum system requirement limitations while installing. Thankfully, both platforms are fairly straightforward to set up.
When you’re invited to a Zoom meeting, you’ll see a prompt asking you to download the Zoom meeting application. You can either choose to download the app or use the web application as per your choice. But, remember that the installed app comes with more functionality and a wider range of control. The app is now available for Android, Apple iOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Creating an account is not a must to enter a meeting. But, you need to have one to invite other users to a Meeting. You can either sign in with Google or Facebook or simply log in using an email address and a password. When you add an account, you receive a Personal Meeting ID and a unique URL that you can send to your invitees. Sounds easy, right?
In comparison, signing up to Cisco Webex requires furnishing your contact details, creating a strong password, and then opting out of email notifications. Once you’re done with this step, you’ll then need to authenticate the account via email.
Zoom vs Webex? Which platform is easier to set up? With Zoom meetings, all you need to do is share the meeting URL for your invitees to join. This gives Zoom an edge in simplicity but exposes the inherent safety risk with the platform. We’ll expand on this in a bit, but as far as setup is concerned, it’s safe to say Zoom Meeting’s focus on ease of use gives it the advantage and makes it a winner in the category.
Features and functionality: the difference between Zoom and Webex
As we’ve discussed earlier, joining a Zoom meeting is fairly simple. It’s a mere task of two clicks if you have the app already installed. When joining in as a guest, you either see a waiting room notice or are taken directly to the meeting. All attendees can choose to enable or disable their video at any point in time. If you join using your device audio, then you can also mute and unmute using the buttons on the screen or by using a keyboard shortcut.
Zoom Meeting also offers you information about the connectivity of all the people on the call. You’ll see a white set of bars in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, indicating the strength of the signal. Zoom also comes with the additional feature of checking all the members who report at a meeting. In situations where the location is far from ideal, you have the option of either blurring the background or replacing it with a template background.
On the other hand, Cisco Webex meetings offer a wider range of control, including file transfers, co-browsing, and the ability to remove attendees from a meeting. Hosts have the power of locking and unlocking the focus on a single person during a meeting. You can also protect your meeting with a password, ensuring that strangers do not end up gate-crashing the meeting. Webex offers high-quality video and audio with very little lag, making it suitable for businesses aiming for collaboration.
Zoom vs Webex? Zoom Meetings may have a fewer number of features, but that only means that there is less of a learning curve. This is why it’s become the popular choice among the two. Advantage- Zoom Meetings.
Zoom vs Cisco Webex: Integration
It is essential that a video conferencing tool can integrate different tools to ensure the ideal management of time and resources. Both Zoom and Webex offer options to integrate with a variety of tools that your company may need. Let’s dive deeper into the particular tools that each of them can successfully integrate with:
The different tools that Zoom Meetings can integrate itself with are:
- Google Drive
- Google Calendar
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Workplace by Facebook
- Microsoft Outlook
Cisco Webex, in comparison, offers a smaller range of tools which are:
- Google Drive
- Google Calendar
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Microsoft Teams
Cisco Webex vs Zoom: Security and privacy concerns
Security features are an important deciding factor in the Zoom vs Webex debate. Zoom has several security features like:
- Data encryption, although it’s worth mentioning that Zoom does not yet offer end-to-end encryption
- Two-factor authentication
- Waiting rooms that can be put in place by hosts at either account or call levels
- Control to the host for file or screen sharing
- Ability to put attendees on hold
- Alerts to indicate when an attendee is recording the call
Zoom Meetings has grown from a business-focused solution to a video conferencing tool for the masses. This rapid adoption by everything from office calls, education, and remote learning has served to expose the lapses in security.
A particularly alarming area that gets the eyebrows raised is when Zoombombing happens.
What is Zoombombing? Think of it like photo-bombing. Just the way someone uninvited jumps into your photo to ruin in, Zoombombing, people join calls and listen to all the conversations—quite obviously without permission. A famous instance of Zoombombing happened recently during a Holocaust memorial. The event was disrupted with images of Hitler and shouting of anti-Semitic slogans.
Zoom responded to such claims by freezing product development and instead used that time to focus on working out an effective solution to privacy and security issues.
Meanwhile, Webex offers the following security features:
- End-to-end encryption
- Physically secured data centers
- Flexible password management that is enforceable by an admin, according to their preference
- Permissions for host and admins to revoke or grant access to any attendee
So, Cisco Webex is a safe, reliable, and more secure video conferencing platform. The only thing working against Webex is the rapid adoption rate of its competitor. But, as far as security goes, Cisco Webex emerges as the winner with its strong commitment to curbing the illegal sharing of user data and privacy.
Zoom pricing vs Webex
Here is how the pricing of different subscription models looks like:
- Zoom Basic: The basic (free) version allows unlimited meetings for up to a maximum of 100 participants for 40 minutes and local recording only. Screen-sharing, co-annotation, remote control, whiteboard, virtual background are some of the additional features on offer.
- Zoom Pro: It is a popular choice for small businesses. Includes live streaming, advanced user management, 1 GB of cloud recording space, and live transcription. Costs $149.90/year/license or $14.99/month/license
- Zoom Business– for small and medium-tier businesses, features included are company branding, managed domains, and admin portal. Costs $199.90/year/license or $19.99/month/license with a minimum of 10 hosts
- Zoom Enterprise– for large-scale corporations, comes with unlimited local and cloud recording storage, customer success manager, and up to 1,000 plus ticketing attendees. Costs $19.99/month/license with a minimum of 50 hosts
Here’s the same for Cisco Webex:
- Free– Allows meetings of up to 100 people for 50 minutes and online customer support
- Starter plan– ideal for small teams allowing unlimited meetings with up to 50 participants, also comes with 5GB of cloud recording space. Costs $13.50 per host per month
- Plus plan– allows a total of 100 participants. Features include 10GB of cloud recording storage. Costs $17.95 per month per host
- Business plan– for larger organizations, available for a minimum of five hosts per month, accommodating up to 200 participants. Costs $26.95 per month per host
Pricing can be a game-changer in settling the Zoom vs Webex debate. Both platforms are very close starting at under $15.00 a month. But, Cisco takes over the edge costing a slightly cheaper $13.50 as opposed to Zoom’s $14.99.
Zoom United is a bundled service omnichannel communication program that combines Zoom Meetings, Zoom Phone, and Zoom Messaging on any device. It aims to reduce administrative burden and provides seamless integration of communication solutions.
The Webex Contact Center is also an omnichannel cloud contact center solution that heavily focuses on customer service. But, unlike in Zoom, users can connect via email, SMS messaging, and live chat.
So, Webex is the clear winner in this category since Zoom doesn’t technically offer omnichannel communication as of yet. There are no email capabilities or AI-powered chatbots available at the moment with Zoom United. It’s more of a bundled service rather than an actual contact center solution.
Room-Based Video Conferencing: Webex or Zoom?
The Webex software was built in a way so that it can comfortably complement Cisco in-room endpoints.
Having one vendor for all your video conferencing and collaboration needs makes it convenient for businesses to hit the ground up and running. Webex is ideal for organizations who’re seeking more than a remote, could-based experience.
So if in-room video conferencing is your priority, you know where to look.
Cisco has the edge when it comes to manufacturing its in-room video endpoints. Zoom doesn’t do it. Although they take help from other companies to help them with in-room conferencing solutions.
What does this mean for your business? Contacting multiple vendors can be quite tiresome and eats up into time and resources. Issues, when they pop up become increasingly harder to troubleshoot.
In addition to that, there are cost considerations as well for Zoom in-room conferencing. Suppose you’re working with a business and want to invite them into your business meetings. In such a situation, you’ll have to pay a monthly charge of $49 per port. On the other hand, Cisco allows you to connect up to 250 endpoints per meeting which is included in the services of their basic subscription.
Zoom’s Video Webinar is with enormous benefits that can allow you to host webinars for hundreds and thousands of people at the same time. You can even post your live stream on social media platforms that allow live streams like Facebook. Youtube also allows it.
Some of the additional Zoom Video Webinar features include:
- Live Q and A sessions
- Panelist screen sharing
- In-webinar live chat and polling
- Promote attendees to hosts
- Practice room for panelists before the event
- Marketing automation
- Quote-based pricing for over 10,000 attendees
Cisco Webex Events lets users host online events for up to 3,000 participants but has webcasting capabilities allowing for up to 100,000 attendees. Users can display up to 720 HD video scenes simultaneously. Event views can adjust automatically when a panelist shares content, so there’s no need to reconfigure their views. Speakers can upload and share presentations, desktop applications, or entire screens, whiteboards, and video in real-time during an event.
Cisco Webex Events has a great capacity to hold a large number of participants at the same time. Their streams allow up to 3000 participants. Although, the overall potential claims to be able to host up to 100k attendees. Along with the great bandwidth, users also get the luxury of displaying videos of the quality of 720p. Speakers have all the basic real-time functionalities related to sharing screens, that are needed in a top-quality video conferencing app.
Some of the additional Webex Events features include:
- Virtual, blurred, or branded backgrounds
- Threaded Q and A tools
- Chat messaging and polling
- Post-event URL for additional materials or promotional offers
With more advanced features, Webex Events emerges as the clear winner in this category.
As the Zoom vs Webex debate rages on, we’ve tried our best to list down the features of both services. It’s hard to come to a binding conclusion since both have their pros and cons. Zoom comes with more features, is extremely easy to set up and use, but suffers from serious lapses in security and privacy. Cisco Webex, on the other hand, is cheaper, offers more or less the same features, and is a much safer alternative.
In the video conferencing market, multiple companies are fighting for the same customer base by offering more or less the same type of services presented with varying bonus features and technical capacities. Hence, deeming one software as perfect may not be a fair assessment. Make an informed choice after considering your unique needs along with a few key criteria like:
- On-premises, cloud, and hybrid platform preferences
- Security policies and privacy guidelines
- User experience, features, and adoption
- In-room conferencing expectations
Want to have more options, read this.