Exchanging real-time voice and video over Internet Protocol (VoIP and Video over IP) has advanced from simply being a shrewd means to save money on phone carrier bills to a required tool for productive collaboration. Converged IP communications, at one time restricted to integrating Internet-based voice and faxes on the same network platform in order to take the place of expensive PBX systems, today encompasses rich media, mobile communications, IM, real-time presence, collaboration services, and more within a centralized environment that is easy to manage, extensible, highly secure, resilient, economical, and intuitive.
Cisco is the leader in supplying solutions for supporting the current model of unified communications (UC). Cisco's unified communications architecture adds to the productivity of IT systems by slashing operating expenses; integrating rich media functions with familiar software programs to improve user output; facilitating collaboration among employees, partners, and vendors to save effort and enhance business outcomes; and streamlining the support of your converged voice and data infrastructure.
Cisco System's Unified Communications technology address these main product areas:,
Progent can provide the online or on-premises consulting services of a Cisco-certified CCIE (Collaboration) specialist who can assist organizations of any size to design, deploy, manage, migrate, optimize, relocate, and repair Cisco UC products so that you realize the greatest business advantage of your communications system. Progent can provide advanced consulting for every facet of Cisco's UC solutions including call processing and control software, VoIP and softphones, and teleconferencing software. Progent in addition provides consulting and support services for Cisco's IP voice-optimized infrastructure including Integrated Services routers, Catalyst and Nexus switches, ASA firewalls, and voice gateways.
- Call Control Agents for controlling calls and sessions
- VoIP and Video Phones and Softphones to enhance end-user productivity
- UC Software Applications for integrated access to presence, IM, voice and video, voice messages, desktop sharing, and voice/video conferencing
- IP Gateways for providing connectivity with outside networks telecommuters
Call Control Software - Unified Communications Manager (CallManager)
Cisco's call-processing agent is the centerpiece of Cisco's IP collaboration solution and provides the flexibility to deploy a centralized call-processing model, a decentralized model, or a combination of the two. In a centralized approach, Unified Communications Manager (Unified CM or CUCM) extends enterprise telephony features to packet telephony devices such as VoIP phones, media processing products, Voice over IP gateways, and mixed media applications throughout the network. Unified Communications Manager supports additional mixed media services such as unified messaging, video conferencing, and group-based customer interaction networks.
The latest version of Unified CM offers a variety of enhancements that accelerate your return on investment by lowering management and support costs, increasing user output, enhancing collaboration, accommodating the bring-your-own-device style of computing, strengthening security, and allowing efficient utilization of IT resources. Headline new features include automatic dial-plan replication, simplified certificate management, extended support for standards-based single sign-on for managers and users, device-agnostic call recording, on-the-road access with no need for VPN tunneling, a new self-provisioning utility that makes it easy for workers to manage their preferences for all endpoint devices, and support for Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol for mobile users.
In cases where you deploy a centralized Cisco Unified Communications Manager cluster to manage call processing for customers at distributed locations, administrators can help achieve non-stop phone service through Cisco SRST, a Cisco IOS Software image for routers. If a Wide Area Network connection fails, Cisco Survivable Remote Site Telephony in the router offers core Cisco UC Manager functions until the link is returned. To learn about Progent's consulting support for Cisco ISR routers, see consulting and troubleshooting support services for Cisco routers.
For small businesses, branch locations, and retail environments that do not need the full functionality offered by Unified CM, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, previously named CallManager Express offers a budget-friendly PBX alternative that meets the needs of locations with up to 450 workers. Because Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express (Unified CCX) is built into the Cisco IOS Software operating on a Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR), smaller organizations can quickly set up a converged voice and data environment.
The Cisco BE6000 is a line of complete platforms that provide fundamental unified communications features including routing, gateway, premium voice and video, messaging, IM and presence, voice and video conferencing, and paging support, enabling any user to connect on any endpoint from any place. All BE6000 solutions are delivered preinstalled with virtualization and Unified Communications applications software, making implementation fast and simple and reducing cost of ownership for organizations with as many as 1000 employees. All BE6000 systems come preloaded with a virtualization hypervisor and Unified Communications applications software. You can instantly activate collaboration applications whenever their requirements grow.
The office-in-a-box BE6000S includes five preselected UC applications preloaded on one combination ISR router/gateway/virtualized blade server platform and can handle up to 150 users and 300 endpoint devices. The mid-market BE6000M includes four unified communications software application options enabled on a single virtualized Cisco C220 M4 server platform and supports as many as 1000 users, 1200 endpoint devices, and 100 contact center agents. The high-end Business Edition 6000H includes 8 unified communications application options activated on a virtualized Cisco C220 M4 server platform and supports as many as 1000 workers, 2500 endpoint devices, and 100 contact center agents.
For more information about Progent's expertise with Unified Communications Manager/CallManager, see Unified Communications Manager (Unified CM) and Cisco CallManager planning, integration, upgrades and technical support.
IP Communications Endpoints
A communications endpoint is an end-user instrument, and can be a physical phone or a software phone application on a PC or mobile computer. In the IP world, every IP handset or soft phone has an Ethernet connection. VoIP phones have all of the capabilities that an ordinary phone provides, but Voice over IP phones can also provide additional features including the ability to access websites or run collaboration software.
In contrast to ordinary PBX technology, in a Cisco IP telephony network you can implement virtually instantaneous moves, adds, and changes. You simply take the IP phone to its new spot, plug it into the Ethernet connection, and the handset registers itself with Cisco Unified Communications Manager. All client permissions and settings are programmatically re-established, doing away with the expense and delay of dispatching support personnel to rewire connections. An additional helpful feature is location independence, which enables you to sign into any Cisco IP device and receive your own phone number and rights.
Cisco offers a wide range of collaboration hardware endpoints. The low-cost SPA 300 Series are basic IP and DECT phones that feature high-quality audio, support for hosted IP phone environments or an IP PBX, simple deployment and safe online provisioning, zero-downtime software updates, and browser-based set up. The value-priced SPA301 is a single-line VoIP phone with no display or speakerphone function, a base dialer with one Ethernet port, and a corded handset with no keys. The SPA302D is a multiline cordless DECT IP phone that offers 10-lines, a 176x220 pixel color screen, and a dial pad with a speakerphone.
Cisco's 7800 family of budget-priced VoIP endpoints provide extensive UC capabilities. The 4 models in this line have backlit monochrome displays and are Power over Ethernet Class 1 rated to simplify deployment. The Cisco EnergyWise power-save feature offered on the advanced models in this line cuts energy consumption by up to 60 percent in off-hours. The Cisco IP Phone 7811 is a one-line phone designed for common locations and workers with occasional-to-light voice communications needs. The IP 7811 comes with a 3.28-inch high-resolution monochrome screen plus a speakerphone. A built-in 10/100 Ethernet switch supports a connection with a local PC, eliminating the need for an additional cable run from the wiring closet. Wideband audio is available via purchase of an optional wideband handset. The high-end IP Phone 7861 is a 16-line endpoint with custom keys and is targeted for administrative staff, contact center agents, and supervisors who have significant voice communications requirements. The IP 7861 phone includes an integrated IEEE 10/100 switch.
Cisco's 9900 Series of high-performance IP phones combine high-quality voice with business-grade color video to provide a rich multimedia UC experience for knowledge professionals and executive management. The two IP phones in this line include a Standard Definition 640x480 pixel color screen, a Bluetooth radio to support a wide range of headsets, and a built-in 1 GE Ethernet port. The Cisco EnergyWise power-save feature is offered as an option and can lower off-work power consumption by up to 90 percent. The IP Phone 9951 features a 5-inch display and supports up to 2 IP Color Key Expansion Modules for expanding programmable line and function keys. The Cisco IP Phone 9971 features a 5.6-inch screen, a built-in Wi-Fi transceiver for connecting to voice-over-wireless LAN environments, and 4 customizable touchscreen keys to invoke Cisco Unified Communications functions. The 9971 IP phone supports up to 3 IP Color Key Expansion Modules for adding customizable line and function keys.
Cisco's 8821 and 8812-EX Wireless IP Phones are ruggedized Wi-Fi handsets designed for employees who are mobile within campus, warehouse, health care, hospitality, retail or other venues where portable work phones need to be more manageable, secure, and durable than is possible with the BYOD model of collaborative communications. Cisco's wireless IP phones provide mobile on-premises users the benefits of voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) communications in environments that support 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi. The 8821 Wireless IP Phone features a 2.4 inch color display, a durable case rated Mil-SPEC 810G for shock resistance and IP67 for dust and splash resistance, long-life batteries, a built-in full-duplex speakerphone, and an integrated Bluetooth 4.0 radio for wireless headsets. The 8821-EX Wireless IP Phone adds ATEX Class 1, Zone 2 and CSA Division 1, Class 22 compliance. This helps prevent sparking during temporary exposure within potentially combustible environments. The 8821-EX also features a case made of industry-standard yellow plastics, which makes it easy to locate the 8821-EX in an emergency. Learn about Progent's Cisco wireless VoIP phone integration consulting.
Unified Communications Applications
Within Cisco's Unified Communications platform, IP telephony, video, and other converged applications are independent from the call/voice processing mechanism, and they may be at any location within the network. A single connectivity infrastructure offers a versatile platform for feature-rich business applications and acts as a firm basis for downstream convergence-based software. Cisco works with third-party IT industry partners to provide a broad selection of IP voice and video applications and products. Cisco also enables the capability to create and manage customized internal programs.
Unified Communications application software available from Cisco and supported by Progent's consultants include:
Cisco Jabber is a UC application that supports presence, IM, voice, high-definition video, voicemail, screen sharing, and real-time conferencing functions for Windows PCs, Macs, Apple and Android tablets as well as iPhones, Android phones, and Blackberries. Jabber is an evolution and integration of the Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, Cisco Mobile, and WebEx Connect, with important improvements to video features and screen sharing, and extending the team experience to more operating systems and endpoint hardware. Cisco Jabber works in conjunction with Unified Communications Manager for call and session management, Cisco Unified Presence for instant messaging and presence, Unity Connection for voice messaging and programmable attendant, and Cisco WebEx Meeting for conferencing.
Since Cisco Jabber is based on key industry protocols, it can communicate with a wide selection of third-party products. As an example, Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol enables Jabber to trade instant messaging and presence information with a variety of XMPP clients such as Adium, IBM Sametime, and Microsoft Skype for Business. Jabber features can be accessed from Microsoft Office applications such as Outlook and Microsoft SharePoint. This broad platform compatibility optimizes productivity by providing a common user environment and accommodating the BYOD model of networking. Progent can provide the services of certified Exchange consultants and Microsoft SharePoint 2013 experts who can show you how to take advantage of Jabber with Microsoft's popular collaboration platform. Progent also offers expertise with Apple iPhone integration and management as well as Google Android smartphone integration and management to help your organization to enhance the business value of your BYOD ecosystem.
WebEX Meeting Center
WebEX Meeting Center provides online conferencing for users with a web browser or virtually any desktop or mobile device. Cisco WebEx is delivered as SaaS through Cisco's WebEx Cloud. This makes it easy to deploy and scale, streamlines administration, eliminates high up-front investment, offers maximum uptime and world-class data protection, and delivers consistently high performance. Important capabilities include support for sharing discrete content or your whole screen display with remote attendees in real time, the ability to embed rich media into your presentations including Microsoft PowerPoint and Flash videos, network-based recording plus editing and playback for future reference and training, single sign-on (SSO) and support for other Cisco collaboration products such as Cisco Jabber and TelePresence, plus strong data privacy and encrypted connections with strict policy control.
Cisco WebEx Meeting Center runs on Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux desktops and allows mobile users to start, calendarize, and take part in conferences on Google Android devices, Apple iPhones and iPads, BlackBerry 10 handhelds, and Microsoft Windows Phone 8. Users can also launch web conferences instantly from Microsoft Office, Outlook, Lotus Notes, and a variety of instant messaging solutions.
Cisco TelePresence Products for In-house Teleconferencing Environments
For midsize businesses and enterprises who want to build an on-premises or hybrid local/cloud environment for video conferencing, Cisco offers a portfolio of Cisco TelePresence software and equipment that deliver high-definition video conferencing for attendees with almost any IP endpoint at any site. Cisco TelePresence Server is a scalable video conferencing bridge that works in conjunction with Cisco Unified CM to provide multiparty telepresence to converged deployments and can extend conferences to incorporate cloud-connected Cisco WebEx Meeting Center participants. Cisco TelePresence Conductor software simplifies management of the way video conferencing resources are allocated for each participant, allowing managers to define the exact service level and experience required for every user. Cisco TelePresence Content Server records video and presentations for real-time distribution and video on demand (VOD) viewing.
Cisco Unity Connection Platform and Unity Express for Converged Voicemail
Cisco's Unity Connection, an integrated extension of Cisco Unified CM, is a unified voice messaging system that promotes collaboration by providing a variety of options for retrieving voice messages within an environment that is easy to implement and administer. Unity Connection allows you to access and manage voicemail messages from your email inbox, web browser, Cisco Jabber messaging integration platform, a Cisco Unified IP Phone, an iPhone or other smartphone, or an iPad or tablet. Cisco Unity Connection also offers advanced speech-recognition features for hands-free operation and extensive Automated Attendant features that include smart routing for incoming phone calls and custom call-screening and message-notification options. The Unity Connection system runs as a VM that can be hosted on a Business Edition 6000 server or a Cisco SRE 910 router service module and can support as many as 20,000 voice mailboxes on each server.
Cisco Unity Express (CUE), available in select Cisco Integrated Services routers, offers cost-effective voicemail, unified messaging, interactive voice response (IVR), and automated-attendant functions for small to medium businesses and enterprise branch locations with as many as 500 voice mailboxes. Cisco Unity Express allows users to manage voicemail using a Cisco Unified IP Phone screen, a browser, or an email client. Integrated Services Routers for which Unity Express is offered as an advanced integration module include Cisco's 1861, 2800, 2900, and 3900 families. Progent can provide certified deployment and support services for Cisco routers.
Cisco Unified Contact Center
Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (Unified CCE, UCCE) works Cisco Unified CM, Cisco Unified IP Interactive Voice Response, and desktop agent apps like Finesse to offer automatic call distribution (ACD) features that enable a business to rout customer calls to the proper salesperson or service representative. Unified Contact Center features intelligent routing, computer telephony integration, customer management across multiple channels, call queuing, interactive voice response and advanced reporting to streamline the deployment and management of a modern, enterprise-class contact center. Cisco products supporting UCCE include Unified IP Phones, Voice Gateways, and network infrastructure.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (Unified CCX, CCX) offers a packaged bundle for building a customer contact center for mid-scale environments such as departments or branch offices, providing support for as many as 400 agents. You can select from a range of basic systems and add advanced options. Unified CCX works closely with Cisco Unified CM and features call routing, customer contact management, reporting, IVR, and centralized management of voice, email, chat, and social media communications. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express comes with Cisco's Finesse software, a customizable web-based desktop agent that does not have to installed on the client's computer. Optional features include conditional routing, estimated-wait-time messages, call-in-queue, plus workforce and quality management.
Cisco Prime Collaboration
Cisco Prime Collaboration provides an automated process for initial deployments and for “day 2” moves, adds, changes, and deletions. An intuitive user interface provides a single view of a subscriber and the subscriber's services. Prime Collaboration Provisioning significantly accelerates site rollouts and minimizes the time required for implementing ongoing changes. Prime Collaboration can deliver significant improvements in productivity and reductions in administration costs. Prime Collaboration Provisioning simplifies management analytics including application adoption and usage rates, allowing organizations to optimize IT resources and further reduce TCO.
Cisco Communications Gateways
Cisco's communications gateways allow Cisco converged communications deployments to connect with public networks and with clients working outside the corporate firewall. Cisco's portfolio of communication gateways deliver UC services for a broad range of gateway and session-border-control deployments.
Communications gateways available from Cisco and supported by Progent include:
Cisco Expressway Converged Communication Gateway
Cisco's Expressway is a powerful converged media gateway that allows companies to allow team members, vendors, customers and prospects, or business partners who are working on different networks, collaboration platforms, or endpoint devices to access to Cisco Unified Communication services. The Expressway collaboration gateway integrates with a Cisco CM system or Cisco BE6000, or can be accessed via the cloud with Cisco HCS to help make collaboration more universal. Key features of Cisco Expressway include:
Cisco Unified Border Element
- Mobile and Remote Connectivity: Off-site workers with any Jabber-supported device or telecommuters with Cisco TelePresence endpoints have the convenience of one-time sign-on and of TLS security and are able to connect to all their Jabber applications (video, business-quality voice, instant messaging, and real-time presence) without requiring the inconvenience starting a VPN. Also, telecommuters have the ability to utilize their Cisco TelePresence endpoints without a VPN tunnel, delivering a user environment at home identical to the corporate office.
- Cisco Jabber Guest Support: Expressway is required for enabling Jabber Guest, which allows “guests” to interact with your business simply and securely via lightweight web-browser and mobile multimedia phone calls.
- Cisco Cloud Connectivity: Cisco Expressway can function as a gateway that connects between on-premises Cisco or non-Cisco collaboration solutions and the WebEx cloud. By supporting Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms (CMRs), Cisco Expressway offers an advanced, extensible meeting experience that seamlessly integrates high-quality voice, high-definition video, and data sharing to anyone, at any location, using any endpoint.
- Interoperability: If your organization currently has third-party video products, Cisco Expressway can help you to move easily to a Cisco solution when it makes business sense. Cisco Expressway provides video interoperability with industry standard H.323, H.264 Scalable Video Coding, or SIP environments. Interoperability capabilities supported by Expressway include IPv4 to IPv6, H.323 to SIP, and Microsoft Lync 2013 H.264 Scalable Video Coding to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.
Cisco Unified Border Element is an enterprise-class session border gateway that interconnects converged business communications networks to the PSTN. In addition to offering session border control, Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE) provides easy and affordable collaboration outside the firewall. Sample collaboration features supported by CUBE include:
Cisco Unified Border Element software is available for licensing on Cisco IOS control software and can be run on a wide selection of Cisco's enterprise routers, which include ASR 1000 Series Aggregation Services Routers, the ISR 4000 family, the ISR G2 Series, and high-end models of Cisco's 800 fixed routers. The virtualized CUBE, or vCUBE, runs as a software load in an ESXi virtual container.
- Cisco WebEx Cloud Connected Audio for high-capacity SIP-based conferencing
- Voice and Video recording
- Enterprise Call-center and IVR applications
- Policy-based evaluation of phone calls
- Business-to-business teleconferencing over SIP
How Progent Can Help You with Cisco's VoIP, Video Conferencing, and Other Collaboration Technology
Progent can provide online or on-premises help from a certified CCIE Collaboration specialist to help you to design, deploy, manage and troubleshoot converged communications networks supported by Cisco Unified Communication products in an in-house, distributed, or hybrid deployment. Progent's Cisco-certified consultants have extensive backgrounds supporting Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Cisco CallManager, Voice over IP and video phones and soft phones, Unified Communications applications like Cisco Jabber and Unity Connection, Cisco's immersive telepresence technologies, collaboration gatekeepers, tools incorporated into Cisco switches and routers. Progent can also provide expertise with related technologies such as Cisco SRST, CUBE, H.323 gateways, Call Admission Control, VoIP trunks, PSTN, and Cisco's AVVID architecture.
Progent's application programmers can build specialized unified communications software that will enable your business to incorporate the capabilities of Cisco Unified Communications Manager into your company operations for increased efficiency. Progent can audit your existing network and Internet access architecture to determine whether your environment is optimized to support business-quality VoIP and HD video, assist you to select and integrate Cisco products that make sense for your current situation and future expansion plans, and integrate your Cisco collaborative communications solution with technology from other vendors. Progent's ISSAP certified data security and compliance consultants can assist you to create, implement, and test an enterprise-wide security and compliance strategy for your unified communications ecosystem. Also, Progent can help your organization to deploy Cisco high-availability mechanisms such as Cisco Unified Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) for cost-effective call control backup in remote-branch and teleworker environments, and Progent's disaster recovery planning experts can help you create a sensible disaster recovery strategy to ensure the availability of your vital unified communications system.
Unified Communications Manager/CallManager Migration Consulting
Versions of Cisco Unified Communications Manager 8.6 lower than 8.6 and every release of CallManager have arrived at end-of-life. This means Cisco Engineering will no longer develop, repair, or validate this older software. Security patches for this business-critical application will end, which in some situations may create compliance or even legal liability problems.
Progent continues to offer world-class consulting and support for end-of-life versions of Cisco Unified Communications Manager and CallManager, but if you are still running a legacy release of this pivotal software you should begin immediately to prepare for your upgrade. Progent's collaboration consulting professionals can assist your company to migrate non-disruptively to the latest release of Cisco Unified CM and can often save customers up to 50% off consulting expense compared to competing IT service companies thanks to Progent's documented process and experience in this area. By following leading practices, Progent can ensure that your organization realizes a fast payback on your IT investment by showing you how to benefit fully from the new and improved feature set, lower administrative and maintenance costs, more productive collaboration, and tighter security offered by the current version of Unified Communications Manager.
Progent's migration services include return-on-investment analysis, project management or co-management, pilot testing and validation, Cloud integration, setting up collaboration endpoints from Cisco and other providers, smartphone and tablet connectivity, security and compliance consulting, streamlined management, business continuity planning, network infrastructure design, training, and ongoing consulting services and troubleshooting. Progent also has put together ultra-affordable upgrade service bundles to keep your costs visible and affordable.
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