I got an email today asking if I had heard about Cisco starting an end-of-life "sunset" process for WebEx Training Center. My correspondent said they talked to a customer who received notification that they should migrate training content off WebEx by April.
This shocked me, as I had heard nothing of the kind. I did some searching online and could find nothing supporting the rumor. So I got on the phone to try and find someone at Cisco who could verify or refute the story.
After a few redirects, I ended up communicating with Nicole Andergard, the PR Manager in Cisco's Collaboration unit. Nicole helped me get the facts straight. As is so often the case, things had been garbled in the telling.
First of all, WebEx Training Center is safe, as are recordings of customer training sessions residing on the WebEx servers. It remains a significant part of the WebEx suite of collaboration products along with Support Center, Event Center, and WebEx Meetings.
But Nicole confirmed that Cisco has indeed started end-of-life notifications for customers using an optional module that worked with Training Center. The Training Center On-Demand Module will only be available until May 30. As of June 1, presentations converted to on-demand status using the WebEx Presentation Studio functionality of the On-Demand Module will no longer be accessible and no additional recordings will be supported under the On-Demand environment.
It is easy to misinterpret the scope of this announcement. When I say "On-Demand Module presentations" I am not referring to the ability to watch archived recordings of live sessions. That is also a common use of the term "on-demand," but we'll keep that lowercase to show that it does not refer to the specific sunsetted product offering.
On-Demand Module presentations (uppercase letters) allow educators and administrators using this product option to add functionality to the standard WebEx session recordings. You start with a WebEx session recording as the source input and convert it for use in the On-Demand training environment. The module allows hosts to attach course materials, add a custom logo for branding, insert a test for interactive use by viewers, add web links for external interaction, and create a special library portal of recordings for search and access by visitors. These capabilities will be lost.
WebEx Training Center will continue to concentrate on live training sessions (which will still support attendee tests, file sharing, and other interactive functionality). Recordings however will be limited to the more basic "watch and listen" format shared with the other WebEx products.
My advice to customers lamenting the loss of the more fully-functional On-Demand Module presentations they had created is to look at third-party products designed to deliver this kind of recorded presentation interactivity. Two options that spring to mind immediately are Brainshark and Articulate.