Exchanging real-time voice and video over Internet Protocol has progressed from simply being being a shrewd method to cut phone carrier bills to being a required tool for collaboration and worker productivity. Converged communications, once limited to managing Internet-based voice and faxes on a single platform in order to take the place of traditional PBX systems, today includes voice and video, mobility, instant messaging, presence, collaboration services, and much more in a centralized framework that is easy to manage, scalable, protected, resilient, cost-effective, and intuitive.
Cisco is the leader in providing the hardware and software infrastructure for supporting the new model of unified communications (UC). Cisco's unified communications product line adds to the productivity of IT networks by slashing operational costs; integrating rich media functions with popular software applications to improve worker output; supporting collaboration among workers, associates, and vendors to save effort and enhance business outcomes; and simplifying the administration of your communications environment.
Cisco's Unified Communications solutions include several important product areas:,
Call and Session Control Software - Unified Communications Manager/CallManager
The call-processing agent is the centerpiece of the Cisco IP collaboration portfolio and provides the flexibility to implement a centralized call-processing model, a decentralized model, or a combination of the two. In a centralized deployment, Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UC Manager or CUCM) expands corporate telephony features to packet telephony products such as IP handsets, media processing appliances, Voice over IP gateways, and multimedia programs throughout the IT environment. Cisco Unified Communications Manager enables extra voice, video, and data services including unified messaging, multimedia conferencing, and group-based client communication networks.
The latest release of Cisco Unified CM, formerly known as CallManager, offers a variety of improvements that speed up your return on investment by cutting management and support costs, increasing user output, facilitating teamwork, accommodating the BYOD model of working, strengthening data protection, and allowing efficient use of network resources. Headline innovations include automatic dial-plan replication, streamlined certificate control, expanded support for standards-based single sign-on (SSO) for managers and end users, device-independent call recording, mobile connectivity with no need for VPN, a revamped self-care utility that makes it easy for users to select their options and preferences for all of their devices, and support for Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol for mobile clients.
When you deploy a centralized Unified Communications Manager cluster to control voice processing for customers at remote sites, IT managers can help ensure non-stop phone service through Cisco Survivable Remote Site Telephony, an IOS Software image for routers. If a Wide Area Network connection fails, Cisco Survivable Remote Site Telephony incorporated in the router offers core UC Manager services until the connection is repaired. For information about Progent's consulting services for Cisco routers, see consulting and troubleshooting support services for Cisco routers.
For small business networks, branch offices, and retail environments that do not require the full functionality available from Unified CM, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, previously known as CallManager Express provides a budget-friendly solution that handles the needs of sites with as many as 450 users. Because Unified Communications Manager Express Unified Communications Manager Express (Unified CCX) is built into the Cisco IOS Software running on a Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR), smaller organizations can quickly set up a unified voice and data environment.
The Cisco Business Edition 6000 is a line of all-in-one platforms that offer fundamental unified communications features such as routing, IP gateway, premium voice and video, messaging, instant messaging and presence, voice and video conferencing, and paging support, enabling any user to connect on any device from anywhere. All Business Edition 6000 solutions are shipped preloaded with virtualization and UC applications software, making deployment fast and simple and cutting cost of ownership for organizations with up to 1000 workers. All solutions are delivered preinstalled with a virtualization hypervisor and Unified Communications applications. Organizations can instantly enable Unified Communications software applications as their requirements dictate.
The office-in-a-box BE6000S supports five preselected UC software applications installed on one combination ISR router/IP gateway/virtualized E1600 M2 server platform and supports a maximum capacity of 150 users and 300 devices. The mid-market BE6000M includes 4 collaboration software application options enabled on a single virtualized Cisco UCS C220 M4 server platform and supports a maximum capacity of 1000 workers, 1200 devices, and 100 contact center agents. The top-of-the-line Business Edition 6000H includes 8 UC software application options activated on a single virtualized Cisco UCS C220 M4 server and can handle up to 1000 users, 2500 devices, and 100 contact center agents.
For additional information about Progent's expertise with Unified Communications Manager, see Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) and CallManager planning, configuration, upgrades and troubleshooting.
Cisco IP Phones: IP Voice and IP Media Phones
A communications endpoint is a user device, either a physical handset or a software phone application on a PC or mobile computer. In the IP world, every VoIP endpoint is Ethernet connected. IP phones have all of the features that an analog phone has, but VoIP phones often offer extra features including the ability to access websites or run business software.
Unlike traditional Private Branch Exchange technology, in a Cisco IP telephony environment you can perform almost instant moves, adds, and changes. You merely move the IP phone to its new location, attach it to an Ethernet jack, and the device registers itself with Cisco Unified Communications Manager. All user permissions and configurations are programmatically re-established, doing away with the expense and delay of sending support personnel to rewire connections. An additional efficient capability is extension mobility, which enables you to log into any Cisco IP device and get your own phone ID and privileges.
Cisco provides a wide selection of collaboration handsets. Cisco's low-cost SPA 300 Series are no-frills IP and DECT phones that feature high-quality voice, compatibility with hosted IP telephony systems or an IP private branch exchange, easy deployment and safe online installation, in-service software updates, and web-based configuration. The low-end SPA301 is a single-line IP phone with no display or speakerphone, a base dialer with a single Ethernet connector, and a corded handset without keys. The SPA302D, intended solely for use with the Cisco SPA232D DECT ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter), is a multiline wireless Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) IP phone that supports 10-lines, a TFT 176 x 220 color screen, and a dial pad with speakerphone capability. The SPA303 is an affordable 3-line IP phone with two switched Ethernet ports, a 128x64 monochrome graphical display and a speakerphone.
The SPA500 line VoIP phones are affordable devices with support for SIP and SPCP call control protocols, two integral Ethernet switch ports, speakerphones, built-in web servers, PoE, and voice conferencing support. Most models have a 128 x 64 mono screen display, The SPA501G has eight lines and has eight programmable buttons but no LCD display. The SPA502G VoIP phone supports a single line and has no soft keys. The SPA504G IP Phone supports four lines and has four programmable keys. The SPA508G IP Phone supports eight lines and eight programmable buttons. The SPA509G supports 12 lines and has 12 programmable buttons. The SPA512G IP Phone supports four lines, no programmable keys and supports 1xGb Ethernet. The SPA514G VoIP phone supports four lines, has soft keys, and supports 10/100/1000 Ethernet. The high-end SPA525G2 includes a 320 x 240 pixel color screen, supports five lines, and has five soft keys.
Cisco's Unified IP Phones 3900 Series and 6900 Series are specialty IP voice endpoints intended for occasional-use environments such as lobbies, elevators, and conference facilities. The Unified SIP Phone 3905 features VoIP phone features a 128 x 32 pixel mono screen, an integrated Ethernet switch, a speakerphone, and Power over Ethernet. The bare-bones Cisco Unified IP Phone 6901 is a one-line endpoint with no display and requires a hook switch for transferring a call and conferencing.
Cisco's 7800 family of budget-priced IP phones are VoIP devices with backlit mono displays, four programmable keys, 11 fixed-feature buttons, an Ethernet switch with Class 1 Power over Ethernet (PoE), and a speakerphone. The 7800 Series support only the SIP call control protocol. All devices in the 7800 line incorporate the same high-fidelity speakers and microphones as Cisco's 8800 Series IP phones to provide a state-of-the-art audio experience. Cisco's EnergyWise power-save technology, available on the higher end 7800 units, reduces off-hours energy usage by as much as 60 percent. The Cisco IP Phone 7811 is a one-line VoIP phone intended for shared areas and for workers with occasional-to-light voice communications requirements. The IP 7811 VoIP phone comes with a 3.28-inch 384 x 106 screen and a narrow-band speakerphone. Wideband audio is offered via an extra-cost wideband handset. Cisco's IP Phone 7821 is a dual-line VoIP endpoint with a 396 x 162 display. The IP Phone 7841 is a four-line VoIP phone with a 396 x 162 screen and is the only unit in the 7800 line that provides Gigabit Ethernet. The high-end IP Phone 7861 VoIP phone is a 16-line device intended for administrative staff, call center agents, and managers who have significant call needs.
The Cisco Unified IP Phone 7900 Series are SIP and SCCP media endpoints with a 320 x 240 pixel color screen, a Gigabit Ethernet switch, Class 3 Power over Ethernet, 10 dedicated buttons and a speakerphone. The Cisco Unified IP Phone 7945G is a two-line unit and the Cisco Unified IP Phone 7965G features four lines. Both IP phones have a 5-inch screen and four soft keys. The Cisco Unified IP Phone 7975G device is an eight-line media phone featuring a 5.6-inch touch screen and five soft buttons.
Cisco's IP Phone 8800 Series is a portfolio of SIP-only endpoints that includes desktop units, a conference phone, and mobile wireless IP Phones. The desktop units are five-line IP phones with a 5-inch 800 x 480 screen, a Gigabit Ethernet switch, a speakerphone, four soft buttons and 12 fixed-feature buttons. The Cisco IP Phone 8811 features a backlit monochrome screen and supports Class 2 Power over Ethernet (PoE). The Cisco IP Phone 8841 features a WVGA color display and supports Class 2 PoE. Cisco's IP Phone 8845 has a WVGA color display, 720p HD video, a tiltable camera, Bluetooth, Cisco Intelligent Proximity for Mobile Voice, and supports Class 2 Power over Ethernet. The Cisco IP Phone 8851 features a WVGA color display and one USB port with charging capability, supports Intelligent Proximity for Mobile Voice and Class 3 Power over Ethernet, and is offered in Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth versions. The Cisco IP Phone 8861 has a WVGA color screen, Bluetooth, dual USB ports with charging capability, and supports Cisco Intelligent Proximity for Mobile Voice, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Class 4 Power over Ethernet. The Cisco IP Phone 8865 has a WVGA color screen, 720p HD video, a tiltable camera, Bluetooth, dual USB connections with charging capability, and supports Cisco Intelligent Proximity for Mobile Voice, Wi-Fi, and Class 4 PoE.
Cisco's wireless IP phones are industrial-grade Wi-Fi devices designed for professionals who are mobile within campus, warehouse, health-care or other environments where management wants portable phones that provide more administrative control, data security and ruggedness than is possible with the Bring-Your-Own-Device mode of mobile collaboration. Cisco's 8821 and 8812-EX wireless IP phones provide mobile onsite workers the benefits of voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) communications in workplaces that support 802.11x Wi-Fi. Cisco's 8821 Wireless VoIP Phone includes a 2.4 inch color display, a rugged case rated Mil-SPEC 810G to withstand dropping and compliant with IP67 for dust and moisture resistance, extended batteries, a built-in speakerphone, and a Bluetooth 4.0 radio for hands-free operation with wireless headsets. Cisco's 8821-EX Wireless VoIP Phone adds spark suppression for hazardous work sites. The 8821-EX also features a shell composed of industry-standard yellow plastics, which makes the 8821-EX easy to locate during an emergency. Learn about Progent's Cisco Wireless VoIP Phone integration consultants.
Cisco's discontinued 9900 family of high-performance IP phones integrate high-definition voice with high-resolution color video to offer a productive collaborative communications solution for knowledge professionals, managers, and executives. Both IP phones in the 9900 line incorporate an SD 640x480 pixel color display, a Bluetooth 2.0 radio to support a wide range of headsets, and a built-in Gigabit Ethernet port. The Cisco Power Save function is offered as an option and can cut off-work power use by 90 percent. The Cisco IP Phone 9951 features a 5-inch screen and allows up to 2 Cisco IP Expansion Modules for adding scalability to programmable line and function keys. The IP Phone 9971 features a 5.6-inch screen, a built-in Wi-Fi radio for deployment with Voice-over-WLAN environments, and 4 soft-label touchscreen keys to access Cisco Unified Communications features. The 9971 IP phone supports up to 3 IP Expansion Modules for expanding customizable line and function keys.
Cisco Unified Communications Applications
Under Cisco's Unified Communications architecture, IP voice, video, and other UC applications are isolated from the call- and voice-processing mechanism, and they may be anywhere within the system. A cohesive network framework provides a versatile environment for powerful applications and acts as a solid foundation for future convergence-based software. Cisco works with leading technology vendors to provide a broad selection of IP telephony and IP video software applications and products. Cisco also supports the ability to create and administer specialized internal applications.
Unified Communications applications available from Cisco and supported by Progent's consultants include:
Cisco Jabber is a UC application that supports presence, instant messaging, voice, HD video, voice messaging, screen sharing, and online conferencing capabilities for PCs, Macs, tablets plus iPhones, Android phones, and Blackberries. Jabber is an evolution and combination of the Unified Personal Communicator soft phone, Cisco Mobile, and WebEx Connect, with major enhancements in the areas of video capabilities and screen sharing, and expanding the team environment to additional platforms and endpoint hardware. Jabber works with Unified CM for call and session management, Cisco Unified Presence for instant messaging and presence, Cisco Unity Connection for voice messaging and automated attendant, and Cisco WebEx Meeting for conferencing and online meetings.
Since Jabber utilizes key communication standards, it can communicate with a broad selection of third-party platforms. For example, Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol allows Cisco Jabber to trade IM and presence information with a variety of XMPP clients such as Adium for Mac OS, Sametime, and Microsoft Lync. Jabber collaboration features can be accessed from Microsoft Office programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft SharePoint. This cross-platform support maximizes productivity by providing a consistent user experience and fully enabling the BYOD paradigm of computing. Progent can provide the assistance of certified Exchange consultants and Microsoft SharePoint programmers who can show you how to use Jabber with Microsoft's powerful collaboration platforms. Progent also offers help with Apple iPhone integration and management and Google Android smartphone integration and management to help you to increase the business value of your BYOD environment.
WebEX Meeting Center
WebEX Meeting Center provides online meetings for users with a browser or almost any PC or mobile computer. Cisco WebEx Meeting Center is offered as SaaS through the Cisco WebEx Cloud. This makes it simple to roll out and scale, reduces the cost of administration, avoids heavy up-front investment, features maximum uptime and enterprise-class security, and delivers fast performance. Key capabilities include support for sharing specific content or an whole screen with remote attendees in real time, the ability to add multimedia into your presentations including PowerPoint and Flash animations, network-based recording plus playback for training, single sign-on (SSO) and integration with other Cisco collaboration products such as Cisco Jabber and TelePresence, plus stringent data privacy and encrypted access with strict policy management.
Cisco WebEx Meeting Center works with Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux-powered desktops and allows mobile users to launch, calendarize, and participate in conferences on Android smartphones and tablets, Apple iPhones and iPads, BlackBerry phones, and Microsoft Windows Phone. Users can also launch web meetings instantly from Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, and a selection of instant messaging solutions.
Cisco TelePresence Products for In-house Teleconferencing Ecosystems
For midsize businesses and enterprises who wish to create a local or hybrid local/cloud environment for teleconferencing, Cisco provides a selection of Cisco TelePresence platforms that deliver high-quality and standards-based video conferencing for attendees with almost any endpoint device at any location. Cisco TelePresence Server is a scalable teleconferencing bridge that works in conjunction with Cisco Unified Communications Manager to provide multiparty telepresence to UC deployments and can expand meetings to incorporate cloud-connected WebEx Meeting Center users. Cisco TelePresence Conductor software streamlines the control of how teleconferencing bandwidth and features are rationed for every individual participant, enabling administrators to specify the exact service level and experience required for every user. Cisco TelePresence Content Server captures video and presentations for live distribution as well as video on demand playback.
Cisco Unity Connection Platform and Unity Express for Unified Voicemail and Automated Attendant
Cisco's Unity Connection, an extension of Cisco Unified CM, is a converged voicemail platform that facilitates teamwork by offering flexible set of options for accessing voice messages within an environment that is simple to implement and maintain. Unity Connection allows you to read and manage voicemail from your Exchange inbox, web browser, Cisco Jabber, a Cisco Unified VoIP endpoint, a smartphone, or an iPad or tablet. Cisco Unity Connection also offers advanced speech-recognition capabilities for hands-free operation and powerful Automated Attendant capabilities such as intelligent routing for inbound phone calls and custom call-screening and message-notification settings. The Cisco Unity Connection platform runs as a fully virtualized system that can reside on a BE6000 server or a Cisco SRE 910 router service module and can accommodate as many as 20,000 mailboxes per server.
Unity Express (CUE), available in certain Cisco Integrated Services routers, offers cost-effective voicemail, integrated messaging, interactive voice response, and greeting functions for small to medium businesses (SMBs) and enterprise branch locations with up to 500 workers. Unity Express allows users to access and manage voicemail messages using a Cisco Unified IP Phone screen, a browser, or an email system. Cisco routers for which Cisco Unity Express is offered as an advanced integration module include Cisco's 1861, 2800, 2900, 3800, and 3900 families. Progent offers certified configuration and troubleshooting services for all Cisco routers.
Unified Contact Center
Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (Unified CCE or UCCE) works with Cisco Unified CM and desktop agent apps such as Cisco Finesse to provide automatic call distribution (ACD) capabilities that allow an organization to match customers with the proper salesperson or service representative. Unified CCE provides smart call distribution, computer telephony integration, multiple channel contact management, network-wide call queuing, interactive voice response and advanced enterprise-wide reporting to streamline the creation and management of a large-scale contact center. Cisco platforms supporting UCCE's client contact management solution include Cisco Unified IP Phones, Voice, and Cisco LAN/WAN technology.
Unified Contact Center Express (Unified CCX) offers an out-of-the-box bundle for creating a customer interaction management center for branch or midmarket systems that handle up to 400 agents. Multiple packages are offered, plus a selection of optional enhancements. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express works with Unified Communications Manager and offers smart call routing, client management, reporting, interactive voice response, and management of voice, email, chat, and social media inquiries. Unified CCX comes with Finesse, a browser-based customizable desktop agent that requires no client software setup. Optional enhancements include conditional routing, projected-wait-time announcements, and productivity optimization with workforce and quality management.
Cisco Mobile Connect for Single Number Reach (SNR)
Mobile Connect, commonly known as Single Number Reach, makes it possible for users to be reached from a single phone number that rings simultaneously on their Cisco desktop VoIP Phone and their smartphone. Users can switch active conversations between their Cisco IP phone and their mobile phone seamlessly. Calls that are not answered can be redirected to a Cisco Unity or Cisco Unity Connection account. Users can create their own access lists that determine which calls get extended to alternate endpoints.
Cisco Prime Collaboration
Cisco Prime Collaboration Provisioning offers an automated process for initial installs and for “day 2” moves, adds, changes, and deletions. A user-friendly interface provides a unified look at a user and the subscriber's services. Cisco Prime Collaboration Provisioning significantly accelerates company-wide rollouts and minimizes the time required to implement future changes. Prime Collaboration in addition offers advanced analytics including technology adoption and usage trends, enabling organizations to optimize IT resources and further reduce total cost of ownership.
Cisco Collaboration Gateways
Cisco's collaboration gateways allow Cisco Unified Communications deployments to communicate with public systems and with users working outside the corporate firewall. Cisco's line of communication gateways provide UC services for a wide variety of gateway and session-border-control applications.
Communications gateways offered by Cisco and supported by Progent's certified consultants include:
Cisco Expressway Converged Communication Gateway
Cisco's Expressway is a powerful converged media gateway that allows companies to allow colleagues, suppliers, customers and prospects, or partners who are working on different networks, workgroup applications, or endpoint devices to access to Unified Communication services. Cisco's Expressway gateway works with a Cisco CM deployment or Cisco Business Edition, or can be accessed via the cloud with Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution to help make collaboration more universal. Important features of Cisco Expressway are:
Cisco's Legacy UC520, UC540 and UC560 VoIP Gateways
The legacy Cisco Unified Communications 500 (UC500) product line is a VoIP and unified communications appliance and software package for small organizations. UC500 packages deliver voice, data, voicemail, automated attendant, video, firewall, and WiFi functionality, run with older Cisco IP Voice phones, and support public switched telephone network connections.
All of Cisco's UC500 packages include a compact switch appliance with 8 Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) ports and additional foreign exchange stations (FXS) and foreign exchange office (FXO) ports, a firewall, and VPN support. Built-in WiFi is an option. User capacity can be expanded by attaching Cisco Catalyst Express companion switches. Each UC500 offering also comes with software licenses for Cisco Unified Communications Manager for VoIP call processing as well as Cisco Unity Express software for voice messaging and automated attendant. The Cisco UC520 package supports 8 to 16 VoIP users and include 4 FXS and 4 FXO interfaces. The Cisco UC540 package allows 32 clients and provides 8 FXO ports. The Cisco UC560 system allows 48 VoIP clients and 12 FXO ports.
Progent's Cisco-certified VoIP consultants can help you to maintain your legacy UC500 VoIP gateway or design and carry out an efficient migration to a current VoIP system such as Cisco's Business Edition 4000.
How Progent Can Assist You with Cisco VoIP and IP Media Phones, CUCM, and Video Conferencing
Progent can provide remote or on-premises help from a certified CCIE Collaboration expert to help you to plan, install, administer and troubleshoot converged communications networks built on Cisco Unified Communication technology in a centralized, cloud-based, or hybrid environment. Progent's Cisco-certified consultants have extensive experience with Unified Communications Manager and CallManager, VoIP phones and soft phones, Unified Communications applications like Cisco Jabber and WebEx Meeting Center, Cisco's video conferencing technologies, collaboration gateways, tools built into Cisco switches and routers. Progent can also offer support for technologies such as Cisco SRST, CUBE, H.323 gateways, Call Admission Control, IP voice trunks, PSTN, and AVVID. Progent's SIP integration consultants can also assist you to build SIP infrastructure solutions that include SIP-based IP voice phones and video phones, SIP-based CUBE trunks, SIP conferencing and SIP management tools via Cisco Unified Communications Manager.
Progent's application programmers can build specialized unified communications software that will enable your business to integrate the features of Cisco Unified Communications Manager into your company processes for enhanced productivity. Progent can revue your current network and Internet access architecture to determine whether your environment is configured to accommodate high-quality IP voice and high-definition video, help you to choose and integrate Cisco hardware and software that make sense for your present needs and future expansion strategy, and interface your Cisco collaborative communications products with technology from other vendors. Progent's CISSP-ISSAP certified network security consultants can assist you to create, deploy, and validate an enterprise-wide security and compliance strategy for your unified communications solution. Also, Progent can help your organization to deploy Cisco fault-tolerant mechanisms such as Cisco Unified Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) for affordable call control redundancy in branch office and home-office sites, and Progent's disaster recovery preparedness experts can help you create a viable DR/BC plan to protect your business-critical unified communications environment.
Unified Communications Manager/CallManager Migration Consulting
Releases of Unified Communications Manager 8.6 earlier than 8.6 and every release of its predecessor CallManager have reached end-of-life. This means Cisco will no longer enhance, repair, or validate this older software. Security patches for this business-critical application will end, which in certain situations may create regulatory compliance or even legal liability problems.
Progent continues to offer world-class consulting and troubleshooting support for outdated releases of Unified CM and Cisco CallManager, but in case your company is now using a legacy edition of this pivotal application your organization should start immediately to plan your upgrade. Progent's Cisco-certified consultants can help your company to upgrade efficiently to the latest edition of Cisco Unified Communications Manager and can typically save customers as much as 50% off consulting costs compared to most computer service firms because of Progent's documented process and experience in this area. By following best practices, Progent can ensure that your company gets a fast payback on your investment by helping you take full advantage of the enhanced features, lower management and support costs, more productive collaboration capabilities, and stronger security offered by the current edition of Cisco Unified CM.
Progent's upgrade services include ROI assessment, project management or co-management, system testing, Cloud integration, setting up endpoint devices from Cisco and third-party vendors, mobile connectivity, data protection services, management automation, business continuity planning, network topology design, training, and ongoing consulting and troubleshooting. Progent also offers fixed-priced upgrade service bundles to keep your costs predictable and affordable.
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