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Updated:Mar 02, 2007
Cisco® Unified Communications is a comprehensive IP communications system of voice, video, data, and mobility products and applications. It enables more effective, more secure, more personal communications that directly affect both sales and profitability. It brings people together by enabling a new way of communicating -- where your business moves with you, security is everywhere, and information is always available anytime and anywhere. Cisco Unified Communications is part of an integrated solution that includes network infrastructure, security, mobility, network management products, lifecycle services, flexible deployment and outsourced management options, end-user and partner financing packages, and third-party communications applications.
• Cisco Unity: The solution scales to meet the needs of large enterprise organizations and delivers powerful voice, integrated, and unified messaging options that transparently integrate with Microsoft Exchange (including Exchange 2007) and Lotus Domino.
• Cisco Unity Connection: This solution combines Integrated Messaging, Voice Recognition, and Call Transfer rules into an easy-to-manage system for medium-sized businesses with up to 3000 users. For organizations with up to 500 users, Cisco Unity Connection is available as a single-server solution with Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition.
• Cisco Unity Express: Available in select integrated services routers, Cisco Unity Express provides cost-effective voice and Integrated Messaging, Automated-Attendant, and interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities for small and medium-sized business and enterprise branch offices with up to 250 users.
Cisco Unity is a foundational element in bringing unified communications solutions to enterprise-scale organizations. This application is a secure, proven, and reliable solution that delivers powerful voice, integrated, and unified messaging options that transparently integrate with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino. The Cisco Unity solution provides anytime, anywhere collaboration through a broad range of productivity-enhancing features, a flexible platform including powerful migration tools for investment protection, and industry-leading capabilities for security and reliability such as Secure Messaging.
Anytime, Anywhere Collaboration
Desktop Message Access
Powerful Unified Messaging
Cisco Unity Unified Messaging integrates transparently with Microsoft Exchange, allowing you to handle all your messages -- e-mail, voice, and fax -- through a single inbox using the Outlook e-mail client. Icons provide simple visual descriptions of each message type and because every message is delivered to one inbox, you can see the number, type, and status of all your communications at a single glance. You also can reply to, forward, and save your messages -- regardless of media type -- in public or personal Microsoft Outlook folders with just a click of the mouse, decreasing response times and increasing organizational agility and customer service.
With the Text-to-Speech (TTS) capability of Cisco Unity Unified Messaging, you get information about all your messages -- and even hear the text portion of e-mail messages -- over the telephone. Depending on the capabilities of your fax server, you can even print e-mail, attachments, and incoming faxes on a nearby fax machine. Even when away from your computer, you are never away from your vital business communications.
Integrated messaging allows you to access your voice messages through your Outlook e-mail or any Internet Mail Access Protocol (IMAP) client, and does not require Active Directory or Exchange expertise. Integrated Messaging users can still take advantage of the features inherent in the Cisco Unity system.
Intelligent Voice Messaging
At its core, Cisco Unity is a powerful and intelligent voice messaging system that allows individual users to interact with the system in the way that is most comfortable and convenient for them. This solution provides full menu options to guide you through its many features and then, as you become more experienced, gives you the option to switch to brief menus for faster system navigation. For even more intuitive use, speech recognition is available, including the ability to use intuitive verbal commands such as "play" and "delete" while navigating through messages.
When new messages arrive, Cisco Unity can announce the number, type, and priority of the messages received and the date and time they were sent; or deliver messages to another extension, mobile telephone, or remote location. When listening to your messages, you can use telephone touch-tones to adjust volume control and playback speed, and forward, rewind, and pause messages. And to help colleagues and customers reach you more efficiently, you can record up to five different personal greetings. You may, for example, want a specific greeting when you are out of the office or on the phone.
Mobile Access to Voice Messages
Cisco Unity Unified Messaging delivers all-in-one messaging for mobile users. Mobile workers using a Treo or BlackBerry device can simply double-click to play voice messages within their personal digital assistant (PDA) e-mail applications. The Cisco Unity solution supports a variety of notification options, including Short Message Service (SMS), e-mail, paging, and out-dialing, which allow you to customize the way you are notified of new voice messages. Cisco Unity Unified Messaging for Exchange users can access their voice messages using Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator, which integrates with Exchange to provide mobile access to messages.
Even for users with basic mobile phones, the Cisco Unity solution is optimized to enhance mobile productivity. You can set up alternate phone numbers for mobile phones or other devices in the system to transfer calls to a mobile phone or speed login to the system. When calling in from a mobile phone, speech recognition allows for hands-free usage of the system. If a call is dropped because of a less than fully reliable mobile phone network, the Interrupted Session Recovery feature resumes, on the next call-in, the session where the call left off, reducing lost time.
Web Access to Voice Messages
The Cisco Unity Inbox is a browser-based message access console that provides a dedicated voicemail inbox that you can use to deliver unified-messaging functions to voicemail-only users. You can use the Cisco Unity Inbox interface to listen to any message in your voicemail inbox through either your PC or phone. With the Cisco Unity Inbox, you can receive notification of new voicemail messages right in your e-mail inbox using Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) notification. Message notification provides an HTML link that you can click to automatically launch the Cisco Unity Inbox message access console, allowing you to play voice messages in WAV file format.
Personal Web Administration
Cisco Unity allows you to customize your personal settings by using the Cisco Unity Assistant, a dynamic interface in the browser-based Cisco Unity Personal Communications Assistant. Cisco Unity Assistant reduces the workload for system administrators and gives you additional flexibility to customize your Cisco Unity system to suit changing demands in your work environment. You can quickly and easily establish or change personal settings such as your voicemail options, security code, personal distribution lists, and message delivery options. For ease of administration and security reasons, the system administrator decides which features and settings individual subscribers or classes of service can access.
Migration at Your Own Pace
Designed for an IP environment, the Cisco Unity system plays a central role in the migration of your telephony infrastructure from time-division multiplexing (TDM) to IP. This application interoperates with Cisco Unified Communications Manager and traditional telephony systems to help you transition to IP telephony at your own pace and protect your existing infrastructure investments. The system even integrates with multiple-vendor private branch exchange (PBX) systems at the same time, facilitating branch-office consolidation that reduces costs by centralizing messaging into a single system. In addition, Cisco Unity Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) integration provides native support for SIP proxy servers, designated SIP phones and clients, and SIP-enabled access gateways, to give SIP users access to the full array of benefits that the Cisco Unity application delivers. Whether you need a rapid migration to IP telephony or require a more gradual pace, this application immediately improves productivity while allowing you to migrate at your own pace.
Cisco Unity offers an optional digital networking module that allows the system to connect to other Cisco Unity servers at the same site through the LAN, or remote sites using a WAN or the Internet. Digital networking makes communicating with co-workers at remote locations fast and efficient by allowing you to send subscriber-to-subscriber messages anywhere in the world.
With digital networking you can use the Global Addressing feature -- listing all system subscribers in a central directory -- to quickly and conveniently send a message to a co-worker in another time zone. Subscriber-to-subscriber messages offer more reply options to the recipient, making it simpler to respond to an e-mail with a voice message, for example. Also, when retrieving messages over the telephone, voicemail from system subscribers is played with the sender's recorded name for greater recognition.
A powerful message networking option available with Cisco Unity is the Cisco Unity Bridge. With Cisco Unity Bridge, you can send subscriber-to-subscriber messages to anyone in your organization who resides on a TDM-based Avaya or Octel voicemail system supporting Octel Analog Networking. In addition, you can simply "reply to" a networked message with a single touch-tone key. With Cisco Unity Bridge, you can maintain advanced messaging capabilities on both systems as you migrate to the Cisco Unity system.
Cisco Unity also provides optional Voice Profile for Internet Mail (VPIM [digital]) and Audio Messaging Interchange Specification (AMIS [analog]) networking modules that allow message interchange between disparate messaging systems that also support these industry-standard messaging protocols. With VPIM or AMIS, customers who are migrating to Cisco Unity can continue to exchange messages with internal system subscribers who reside on a third-party messaging system, helping to ensure a smooth system migration.
Through these solutions, Cisco Unity allows you to easily integrate your system with other voice messaging systems in your environment.
Getting More Out of Your Existing Messaging Platform
The components of Cisco Unity extend the power of your Microsoft Exchange server, eliminating the inefficiencies associated with having multiple messaging systems, and simplifying the way you access and manage your system. Cisco Unity uses Microsoft Exchange message store and directory services to unify your system administration, collecting all messages in a single store and giving you a single-address directory service. Cisco Unity offers this service without requiring any upgrade to your existing Exchange environment, and can work in conjunction with Windows 2000 or 2003 and Exchange 2000, 2003, and 2007.
By sharing a single directory with the data network, Cisco Unity Unified Messaging eliminates the redundancy of user account information maintained by various applications -- such as e-mail and voicemail systems. The application also saves you hours of time in initial installation with a feature that imports the Microsoft Exchange accounts directory to create subscriber lists automatically. With the Cisco Unity approach, all messages are centrally stored, administered, and controlled, dramatically reducing the amount of time spent on support and maintenance, and minimizing the traffic on your LAN.
Localizations for International Deployments
Cisco Unity Unified Messaging is localized to meet the needs of customers around the globe. Localized versions are available in multiple languages -- five dialects of English (Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States), Arabic (Formal), three dialects of Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese (PRC), and Mandarin Chinese (ROC)), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, French (European and Canadian), German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), Russian, two dialects of Spanish (Latin American and European), and Swedish. In addition, depending on the language, these versions feature everything from system prompts and subscriber conversations to the browser-based administration consoles and product documentation in the language of your choice.
Secure and Reliable
Cisco Unity Unified Messaging can encrypt messages as they are taken. You can then listen to the messages either through the telephone user interface (TUI) or from Outlook and the messages will be properly decrypted. With Secure Messaging, if a message is then forwarded outside the organization, the recipient of the forward will be unable to decrypt that message. Thus you can use Secure Messaging to prevent messages from leaving the organization.
Additionally, you can mark messages as private, in which case the encryption mechanism limits playback to only the original intended recipient. You can also configure encryption keys to expire after a set period of time, meaning messages will become unplayable records after the end of the expiry period even if copied to a computer hard drive. With Secure Messaging you can be assured that your security and compliance policies will be strictly adhered to while still allowing users the benefits of unified messaging.
Resistant to Exchange Service Interruptions
Cisco Unity Unified Messaging is designed to easily handle Exchange service outages. The application uses the Cisco Unity Message Repository to increase message store availability if Microsoft Exchange goes offline. Cisco Unity Message Repository allows the system to continue taking new voice messages when the e-mail system or network is offline. System subscribers also can retrieve these messages, minimizing service disruption. Additionally, because it keeps a local snapshot of the Active Directory environment, the Cisco Unity solution is not affected by Active Directory service concerns. Thus, the application can deliver the kind of availability expected of an enterprise-ready voice messaging system while at the same time being integrated with Exchange.
Cisco Unity Unified Messaging takes full advantage of such powerful Microsoft Exchange features as digital networking, automatic message replication, message rules, foldering, and inbox assistant support. Through Microsoft Exchange e-mail gateway services, Cisco Unity Unified Messaging also can work with e-mail clients that support SMTP, Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME), Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3), and IMAP4.
Failover and Standby Redundancy
The Cisco Unity application supports configuration as a standby pair. In such a configuration even in the case of a server failure, the system environment transparently fails over to the secondary Cisco Unity server, helping ensure high availability.
Cisco Unity Unified Messaging can also support a capability called Standby Redundancy, which gives the system resilience during site-level failures. In the case of a catastrophic site-level disaster, you can manually switch the Cisco Unity system to a secondary site, allowing recovery of service within a short time window.
Easy-to-Use System Administration Interface
Cisco Unity features an intuitive and easy-to-use graphical user interface, resulting in greater productivity for your organization. Moreover, this solution simplifies system administration with its embedded Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), single message store, and single directory service, providing excellent performance and reliability. In addition to housing data in a central store, administration tasks can be handled conveniently and securely from a Web-based system administration console that IT staff can access from any networked PC using Internet Explorer.
The Cisco Unity administration console minimizes the complexity of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Exchange so you do not have to be a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) to administer the system. This interface integrates with Microsoft Windows 2000 through the use of snap-in HTML, and allows you to configure and monitor the Cisco Unity system from anywhere on the Internet using Internet Explorer instead of proprietary Windows-based interfaces.
Cisco Unity Features
New in Cisco Unity 5.0
• Secure Messaging: Encryption of voicemail messages increases system security, allowing system administrators to enforce voicemail retention policies and prevent the compromise of voice messages with proprietary or confidential content forwarded to someone outside the enterprise.
• Speech Access: Both intuitive speech and "press or say" capabilities enable the use of voice commands to navigate menus and manage voicemail messages.
• Interrupted Session Recovery: Automatically return to in-progress message composition or playback if you ended a session prematurely. For example, if someone stopped by your office and you hung up the phone while in the middle of a message, you can return to the message.
• Message Monitor: You can screen voicemail messages as they are being recorded.
• Cisco Unity Phone View: You can access your voicemail inbox through the IP phone interface. You can use the message locator to view the voicemail message queue or jump to a particular message in your inbox, view message header details, and play selected messages.
• VPIM support for multiple types of PBXs with one centralized Cisco Unity system: Provides for digital interoperability
• AMIS support: Provides for analog interoperability
• Cisco Unity Bridge: Offers interoperability with traditional Avaya or Octel voicemail systems
• Networked messages with Cisco Unity Express or Cisco Unity Connection with VPIM
• Cisco Unity Message Repository: Manages new voice messages when the e-mail system or network is offline
• Q Interface Signaling Protocol (QSIG) and Digital Private Network Signaling System (DPNSS) support: Enhances integration with traditional PBX
• Failover capability: Prevents service disruption if the unified messaging server is unavailable, delivering enhanced reliability and serviceability
Message Access from the TUI
• Play and process messages (repeat, reply, forward, delete, save, mark as new, hear day or time stamp, or skip to the next message)
• Deliver messages to users at designated telephone numbers -- for example, home, cellular or mobile telephone, or remote-office telephone
• Reverse, pause, or fast forward during message playback
• Control volume and speed during message playback
• Pause or resume during message recording
• Address messages to multiple recipients
• Perform Global Addressing
• Locate message by number or name (Go to Message)
• Record message and specify as regular, urgent, private, or future delivery
• Record message and request return receipt
• Switch between spelling name and extension when addressing message
• Immediately reply to messages from other subscribers by calling them back directly from the TUI (Live Reply)
• Forward faxes to any fax machine from a touch-tone telephone
• Post greeting recordings
Message Access from the PC
• Access voice messages visually with IMAP client; note that customers can deploy either Cisco Unity Inbox or IMAP client access users
• With digital video recorder (DVR)-style interface in e-mail client, play, rewind, pause, or fast forward voice messages with a few mouse clicks
• Send voice and fax messages to anyone who can receive Internet e-mail
• Download all message types and respond to or create new messages offline
• Save voice and fax messages along with e-mail in public or personal Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft Outlook folders for a complete record of your communications
• Apply Microsoft Exchange Inbox Assistant rules to voice and fax mail
• Customize your message-notification options, manage personal greetings, or change passwords with Cisco Unity Assistant (the Cisco Unity Personal Communications Assistant Web browser-based personal administrator)
• Select conversation type; full or brief prompts are available
• Change prompt and message playback speed
• Address and then record a message, or record and then address a message
• Record up to five personal greetings (alternate, busy, internal, off-hours, or standard)
• Specify the order in which messages are presented over the phone, by message type (voice, fax, or e-mail), urgency, or LIFO/FIFO
• Create private distribution lists and address messages to them through TUI or using Cisco Unity Assistant (Web browser client)
• Set an expiration date for any personal greeting
• Manage an alternate greeting, require callers to listen to full greeting, or notify users when a greeting is on
• Provide message notification for new messages through devices such as SMTP text, pagers, and phone destinations
• Provide message notification with SMS text messaging for mobile users; the Cisco Unity system supports the Short Message Peer to Peer (SMPP) 3.4 protocol for interoperability with all major Short Message Service Center providers
• With a cascade message-notification feature, you can send additional notification types if a message is not retrieved
• Select whether message counts are announced; type, totals, saved, and new counts are available
• Specify whether the Cisco Unity system announces a transferred call
• Specify Call Forward to a personal greeting or busy greeting
• Specify an after-greeting action; after a subscriber greeting, callers can be directed to leave a message, sign in, or hang up, or they can be sent to call handlers, a directory handler, an interview handler, or a subscriber
System Administration Overview
• Cisco Unity takes advantage of your communications infrastructure investment by integrating with Cisco Unified Communications Manager and leading traditional telephone systems, even simultaneously, thereby paving the way for a smooth transition to IP telephony.
• Cisco Unity natively supports SIP proxy servers, designated SIP phones and clients, and SIP-enabled access gateways.
• An intuitive browser-based system administration console and tools simplify installation, maintenance, and daily use and allow maintenance from any PC on the network, saving time, expense, and effort.
• Cisco Unity Assistant (the Cisco Unity Personal Communications Assistant Web browser-based personal administrator) allows IT staff to enable end users to manage more of their own accounts, saving time and decentralizing routine administration.
• Superior component-based server architecture provides a solid and flexible foundation for future growth.
• Innovative use of streaming media provides efficient audio delivery.
• Fault-tolerant system tools include robust security, file replication, event logging, and optional software Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) levels 0-5.
• The Cisco Unity application offers full localization in U.S. English, French, German, and Japanese -- including system prompts, subscriber conversations, browser-based administration consoles, and product documentation.
• Localized telephone system prompts are available in multiple languages, including five dialects of English (Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States), Arabic (Formal), three dialects of Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese (PRC), and Mandarin Chinese (ROC)), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, French (European and Canadian), German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), Russian, two dialects of Spanish (Latin American and European), and Swedish.
• Cisco Unity supports physical terminal line (tty) conversation for accessibility.
Using the Cisco Lifecycle Services approach, Cisco and its partners offer a broad portfolio of end-to-end services to support the Cisco Unified Communications System. These services are based on proven methodologies for deploying, operating, and optimizing IP communications solutions. Initial planning and design services, for example, can help you meet aggressive deployment schedules and minimize network disruption during implementation. Operate services reduce the risk of communications downtime with expert technical support, and optimize services enhance solution performance for operational excellence. Cisco and its partners offer a system-level service and support approach that can help you create and maintain a resilient, converged network that meets your business needs.