Cisco UC Product Tour

I had an interesting trip to see our friends at Cisco HQ (UK) today. It was a multi-purposed session to discuss a multitude of UC subjects.

We’re busy embarking on a Cisco Unity Connection install, to replace our old Unity 4.X installation. We’ve made a few test builds, but that’s largely been to get comfortable with the install process. We wanted to see some of the technology in action, hear some of the marketing and also get an informed demonstration.

Unity Connection:
Features like Visual Voicemail and its ability to store voicemail ‘offbox’ in Exchange are what have attracted us. It’s an interesting way to achieve Unified Messaging without incurring the expensive Microsoft licencing costs. I like that unlike Unity, Unity Connection is now a linux appliance, it’s AD integration isn’t some masked Exchange 2003 installation. The only aspect I am currently not impressed by is the personal contacts feature, it’s a manual upload of contacts, with limited fields. It’s not dynamic at all, not linked to Exchange, it’s a one time import via a web portal.

Jabber: Cisco have started to combine open standards based XMPP technology obtained through the Jabber acquisition. This is being integrated into the WebEx and CUPS and CUPC products. There are ‘Cisco Jabber’ applications available for the Android and Apple platforms, and lots of work in progress to bring in more features towards the end of the year. Blackberry solutions require MVS which is essentially some glue to get it to work under the RIM framework. It creates a SIP trunk into CM, to enable you to use your mobile to make calls via CM trunks.

Cisco Quad: A very interesting product, I’m sure there are many ways to describe it and frame what it is, but it’s essentially a fully fledged ‘corporate-facebook-intranet-in-a-box’ That somewhat undersells it, a recent piece of work has seen our company develop its own intranet with social collaboration in mind, this has met with mediocre success. The Quad product would have pretty much full-filled all the technical needs for us in a turn-key solution. I’m not saying it’s all things to all men, but I was suitable impressed. As a social collaboration suite, it tops my interested list. There are Android, iPad and iPhone applications available for Quad.

Cisco CUPS: I’ve known about CUPS for ages, but it’s always been this monstrously huge product, that was a sledge hammer to crack a nut. It always felt expensive and cumbersome. I’ve no doubt it’s still quite a challenging install, but it’s mediation/federation offering to lash together CUCM and OCS/Lync that mean I will definitely be looking it over again now. The CUPC client is also much improved and is very polished. It has become a very polished and attractive product. The product was re-written with the Jabber technology and is now open standards based. Federation will be achieved using XMPP. Version 8.5.

Show and Share: I’d describe it as corporate YouTube. It enables users to share and collaborate with video/media rich content, tagging and making video content searchable. You can record a piece via a video enabled device and with 1 click publish it as online content. Also known as Cisco Digital Media Manager.

Video Conferencing (Telepresence): Cisco has done a lot of work integrating the Tandberg end points into their product range. I was impressed with the speed that this integration seems to have happened.

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