Accelerate Your Communications Benefits: Upgrade Your Cisco IP Telephony to Cisco Unified Communications
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Updated:May 05, 2014
In the relatively short time since Cisco introduced Cisco® IP Telephony, unified communications has become one of the top two strategic technologies for organizations (Gartner's Top Ten Strategic Technologies for 2008 http://unifiedview.wordpress.com/category/ucc/). However, the unified communications landscape has changed dramatically. If your company has not updated its Cisco CallManager or Cisco Unified Communications Manager software within the last few years, it is time to upgrade, because the immediate and ongoing business benefits are compelling, including the ability to:
• Build productivity
• Provide access to a new world of value-added applications
• Enable business innovation
• Reduce IT complexity
Transforming the Workspace: Everyone's Included
Cisco Unified Communications was first introduced in 2006, and today companies of all sizes, including more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies according to Gartner Group, use the Cisco network-centric approach to unified communications to build competitive advantage. Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0 is part of the Cisco five-phased plan for unified communications - a plan that delivers five distinct waves of business value (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Cisco Five-Phased Plan for Unified Communications
The Power to Collaborate Across Any Workspace
Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0 can help your organization create adaptive workspaces that build productivity, business agility, security, and competitive advantage. This latest release provides new and expanded solutions that deliver enhanced collaboration and more effective communications within and outside of the organization. With Release 7.0, Cisco has focused on three critical customer priorities:
• Providing open systems: To enable smooth interoperability and deep integration with third-party solutions
• Enhancing the user experience: To build productivity and accelerate business transformation with comprehensive unified communications capabilities that are available anytime, anywhere, and on any device
• Improving total cost of ownership (TCO): By optimizing and securing network platforms and network management
Table 1 lists the new and enhanced solutions now available with Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0.
Table 1. Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0: New and Enhanced Solutions
• Deep integrations
• Business-to-business presence federation between Cisco Unified Personal Communicator and Microsoft Office Communicator
• Cisco Unified Communications Plug-Ins for IBM Lotus Sametime
• Cisco Unified Presence Server 7.0: Now supports up to 30,000 users per cluster
• Cisco Unity 7.0: Supports 200 ports and 15,000 users on a single server
• Cisco Unity Connection 7.0: Supports up to 50,000 users in a single messaging network
• Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing: Simplifies and lowers the cost of software and services procurement
• Cisco Fast Track Migration Service: Accelerates time to return on investment (ROI) and reduces risk
• Cisco Unified Communications Software Subscription: Offers major software upgrades at a reduced cost
Upgrade to Maximize Your Investment
With each new release - from 3.0 to 7.0 - Cisco continues to enhance its unified communications portfolio. If your organization is not optimizing communications by using the most current software versions, it will not be able to keep up with those companies that are. According to market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, a "collaboration effect" is tied to the number of unified communications applications deployed. "The more applications that are integrated through the unified communications umbrella, the greater the overall productivity benefit since employees have more channels from which to gain benefits." (Unified Communications Applications: Uses and Benefits, Chadwick Martin Bailey, July 2008). If you want to attain the "collaboration effect" in your organization, the first step is to upgrade Cisco Unified Communications Manager, the call-processing component of the Cisco Unified Communications System.
Boost Productivity Every Time, Everywhere, and Everyone's Included
The new and enhanced solutions in the Cisco Unified Communications System can provide significant productivity improvements for every person in your organization:
• Cisco Unified Communications Clients: New communications clients include Cisco Unified Personal Communicator and Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator. With each release of software, new capabilities are built into the products, including presence, IM, video, click to call, and web conferencing. They make it possible when you are at your desk or on the move to reach others on the first try, and to escalate IM sessions into phone conversations, video calls, or web conferences. You can now:
– Accelerate decision-making and collaboration
– Save time and money on travel while still communicating effectively
– Increase your effectiveness while either remote or mobile
– Reduce costly communication delays
• Voice, video, and web conferencing: The impromptu conferencing capabilities are enriched by the latest releases to allow deep integration of Cisco WebEx Meeting Center and Cisco Unified MeetingPlace conferencing. This integration enables virtual "in-person" meetings that:
– Improve productivity and accelerate problem resolution: With a single access point for all voice and web collaboration
– Increase sales, support, meeting, and training effectiveness: With single sign-on across solutions
– Reduce travel costs: By eliminating trips with on-premises and on-demand conferencing
• Voicemail and unified messaging: The simplified message management and productivity-enhancing features in the Cisco Unity and Cisco Unity Connection solutions provide impressive productivity improvements. The National Football League (NFL) and Aspen Valley Hospital (two Cisco Unity customers) save 60 minutes per user per day by using unified messaging. New productivity-enhancing features include:
– Automatic recognition of alternate extensions and devices, which streamlines access to your voice mailbox
– Speech-activated "follow-me" transfer settings, allowing you to easily have calls routed to any device
– Short Message Service (SMS) notifications for new voice, email, and fax messages now included with Cisco Unity Connection
– Faster addressing through the telephone user interface (TUI), through such features as most recently used (MRU) and Name Suggest
– Improved speech access, which allows you to speak commands and names for "hands-free" operation
• Widgets: Cisco Unified Communications Widgets are free plug-ins that can enhance personalization and productivity in every workspace. These easy-to-use applications speed collaboration by making it possible for you to:
– Click to call directly from desktop applications and your web browser without having to punch in phone numbers
– View, listen, and respond to Cisco Unity or Cisco Unity Connection voice messages from the Cisco Unified IP Phone display - without having to dial into the corporate voicemail box
Figure 2 lists the features and benefits of unified communications.
Figure 2. Unified Communications Benefits
• Contact center: Cisco customer contact solutions have been significantly enhanced over the last few releases. Updates include the addition of presence and video support. For example, with Cisco Unified Expert Advisor you can connect callers with subject matter experts regardless of where they are located throughout the enterprise. And support for video provides a richer, more extensive customer support experience. Cisco customer contact solutions can:
– Improve first-call resolution and reduce response rates by virtualizing access to subject matter experts: When agents need to escalate a call, they can easily see which experts are available before transferring the call.
– Increase revenue: Virtualized call centers can typically handle 10- to 30-percent more calls with the same staff. Many organizations also report an increase in revenue through increased volumes.
– Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty: Unified capabilities in the contact center ensure that customers get through to the right person with the right skills and the right information - the first time, every time. This responsiveness keeps customers happy and builds loyalty, thereby building profitability.
Access a New World of Value-Added Applications
Cisco Unified Communications is built on an open, interoperable architecture, allowing smooth interoperability and deep integration with third-party solutions. Cisco technology development partners already deliver integrated applications. Cisco works with its partners to ensure that applications have been verified with the latest Cisco releases. For example, partners such as Arc, Witness, IPC, Cardiac, and Corebridge have already tested their applications with the latest versions of Cisco Unified Communications Manager. This robust ecosystem of technology-development partners gives our customers access to a new world of value-added applications.
Cisco also works with strategic partners such as IBM and Microsoft to deliver innovative solutions that provide investment protection, enhanced collaboration, and productivity benefits. Each new unified communications system release has included new interworking features with these partners. For example, Cisco now offers the new Cisco Unified Communications Plug-Ins for IBM Lotus Sametime. With Sametime you can now:
• Place voice and video calls
• Initiate voice, video, and web collaboration sessions from contact lists and IM sessions
• See when someone is on the phone
• Access and manage voicemail directly from the Lotus Sametime client
Cisco also supports Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) and Live Communication Server (LCS) environments so Microsoft users can have advanced unified communications capabilities such as:
• Simultaneous ringing: Cisco Unified Communication Manager calls simultaneously ring on Microsoft Office Communications clients.
• Business-to-business federation support: Cisco Unified Communications Personal Communicator 7.0 supports IM, presence, buddy lists, and status updates between businesses.
• Support for Windows Mobile: Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator supports Windows Mobile.
• Click-to-call capabilities: Cisco Unified Communications Widgets support click-to-call with Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Outlook, and SharePoint applications.
The Cisco open system architecture allows your organization to easily integrate unified communications and network services with other business applications. If your organization wants to build custom applications with advanced unified communications capabilities such as presence, Cisco Unified Application Environment 2.5, a rich portfolio of applications and development tools, allows web or enterprise developers (who lack telephony and unified communications skills) to quickly and easily develop unified communications applications. With the latest release of Cisco Unified Application Environment, you can extend presence into custom applications. This integrated development environment can significantly reduce the time, cost, and failure rates of unified communications development and test cycles.
Enable Business Innovation
By embedding unified communications capabilities into business applications, companies are transforming business processes. For example:
• High-end Japanese retailer Mitsukoshi used the embedded unified communications capabilities in its inventory application to optimize the customer experience in one of its biggest profit centers. As a result, in the 6 months that Mitsukoshi piloted its radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled in-store inventory application, it increased revenue growth by 113 percent over the previous year. At the same time, Mitsukoshi reduced its sales cycle time by 20 percent while dramatically improving customer satisfaction.
• When UK-based JJ Food Service extended unified communications capabilities to its most important customers, it achieved a $6.5 million gain in productivity in its contact center by reducing the number of transfers and callbacks. This reduction was accomplished by tightly integrating the contact center with its customer-relationship-management (CRM) application and by taking advantage of the intelligent call-routing capabilities of unified communications to dramatically streamline the process. The application, which was built in 10 days, also resulted in higher customer satisfaction.
Reduce IT complexity
Cisco has added a wide range of mechanisms to Cisco Unified Communications Manager over the last few releases. These mechanisms provide significant reductions in IT complexity, including:
• An enhanced appliance deployment environment: Cisco Unified Communications Manager is based on an appliance deployment environment that is optimized to reduce the cost of operations and IT complexity by:
– Enabling fast, simple deployment: The software comes preloaded on a Cisco media-convergence-server (MCS) platform. A single image (included in the software) facilitates automated provisioning of the underlying native operating system as well as the Cisco Unified Communications Manager software.
– Removing the need for specialized administrative skills: Administrators need no certification, or even basic OS administrative skills.
– Offering simple and flexible management: Administrators never require access to the underlying operating system. Instead, all systems management activities - such as disk-space monitoring, system monitoring, and upgrades - are either automated or controlled through the GUI.
– Simplifying administrative tasks: The appliance facilitates the ability to perform remote and automated change management through the web.
– Facilitating rapid, streamlined upgrades: A dual-partition mechanism within the appliance allows administrators to perform software upgrades on an inactive standby disk partition while preserving the current active version of the Cisco Unified Communications Manager software. An upgrade to the new release or reversion to the old release are both accomplished with just a fast reboot with a version switch, significantly reducing the time and risk typically associated with upgrades.
– Delivering robust security: The Cisco Unified Communications Manager provides an inherently more secure and resilient deployment environment than nonappliance models.
• SIP support in Cisco Unified Communications Manager: Cisco integrates rich, native SIP and Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) support on both line- and trunk-side interfaces with integrated presence on phones and applications. This integration makes it possible to maintain smooth interworking with existing H.323, Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), Skinny Client Control Protocol (SCCP), Telephony Application Programming Interface/Java TAPI (TAPI/JTAPI), and Q.SIG protocols. The result is enhanced interoperability, investment protection, and broad ecosystem support.
• Server consolidation: In the last few releases, Cisco Unified Communications Manager has had many enhancements, including the incorporation of video telephony, mobility features, and many third-party integrations. Services are consolidated onto fewer servers to help streamline IT management. For example, with Cisco Unified Communications Manager Version 6.0, the Cisco Unified Mobility application is integrated natively with Cisco Unified Communications Manager software, eliminating the need for a separate server. Servers also are consolidated with Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition. This efficient solution for medium-sized locations now provides call control and Cisco Unity Connection voice messaging on a single server, which supports up to 20 sites.
• Clustering over the WAN: Cisco Unified Communications Manager clustering over the WAN combines the redundancy of the distributed Cisco Unified Communications Manager call-processing model with the simplicity of having a single Cisco Unified Communications Manager cluster for a single dial plan and voice system to administer. This combination (with its subscriber servers split across data center locations) enables a highly available and redundant design.
• Administration enhancements: In the last few Cisco Unified Communications Manager releases, Cisco has implemented many enhancements in the continuing commitment to improve administrative experience. For example, more than 14 enhancements were made to Data Migration Assistant (DMA) alone in order to improve customer experience in upgrading from Cisco Unified CallManager Version 4.0 or later and Cisco Unified Communications Manager Version 4.3 and later to 5.0 and later releases. In Version 7.0, Local Route Groups are supported, helping streamline dialing-plan creation, and shortening installation and configuration times. E.164 "+" sign dialing is supported, making it quicker and easier for you to dial from directories such as call logs. These types of enhancements are added in each release.
Table 2 lists the appliance enhancements for Cisco Unified Communications Manager 7.0.
• Unattended install through Cisco Unified Communications Answer File Generator
• Upgrade or patch through the command-line interface (CLI)
• Data Migration Assistant for Cisco Emergency Responder Version 1.0
• Version and patch inventory through the CLI and GUI
• Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) and basic input/output system (BIOS) level and settings management
Installed firmware and software are easier and faster to plan, deploy, and manage.
• Password and personal identification number (PIN) policy enforcement
• Security event logging
• Common Cisco Security Agent for Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition, and Cisco Unity Connection
Your security posture will improve and security operations management will be easier.
• Multiple backup and restore schedules
• Prebackup disk-space checking
• Basic Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Integration for American Power Conversion (APC)
Simplification and flexibility reduce TCO.
Common customer experience
• Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition, and Cisco Unity Connection share common interfaces and tools.
• Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition supports single login and single sign-on
Consistency reduces TCO.
Manage Migration and Protect Your Investment
Cisco can help your company stay current with Cisco Unified Communications releases so you can reap the full productivity benefits of collaborative, adaptive workspaces. Migration services include:
• Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing (UWL): This licensing provides a comprehensive way to acquire the software and services you need, now and in the future, in a simple and understandable package. With workspace licensing your organization can procure a broad range of Cisco Unified Communications applications and services on a per-user basis. It packages client and server software, licensing, service and support, and software subscription, ensuring that you can roll out applications as your business needs dictate. It also ensures that your existing Cisco Unified Communications Solutions will be compatible with future versions by providing additional upgrades and products as they become available.
• Cisco Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS): Cisco UCSS provides a cost-effective way to predict and plan your IP communications software upgrades through a 1-, 2-, or 3-year subscription. The service allows you to purchase major software upgrades of various Cisco Unified Communications products at a reduced cost. Thus you can keep pace with technology advancements, enhance productivity by enabling the latest product features and capabilities, maximize your return on investment, and lower your total ownership costs.
• Cisco Fast Track Migration Service: This new service accelerates deployment time and helps your organization migrate at significantly reduced prices - and with less risk. The phased approach can give your organization critical requirement analysis, testing, planning, and implementation. This service is ideal for current Cisco Unified Communications customers who want to migrate to an appliance deployment environment, and who wish to upgrade to as many as 20,000 endpoints.
Table 3 shows the timeline for Cisco Unified Communications Manager lifecycle planning.
Unified communications is now essential for businesses that wish to build competitive advantage. The Cisco network-centric approach uses the network as a platform for communication and collaboration so everyone is included - as long as they have a network connection. The new and enhanced solutions available with Cisco Unified Communications Manager and the Cisco Unified Communications application portfolio can help your company effectively collaborate across any workspace, accelerate decision making, innovate across the value chain, and integrate with other industry-leading applications. Upgrade now to ensure that your company can continue to build productivity, gain access to new value-added applications, enable business innovation, and reduce IT complexity.
For More Information
Find out how other businesses are using Cisco Unified Communications to their advantage by visiting: