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UC Management Anti-Hero

June 30, 2011
at 12:45 pm PST

Laura PowersWelcome to the Shownotes for TechWiseTV 92 -- Unified Communications Management Made Simple.  If you have not seen the show yet -- you can do so by going to http://www.techwisetv.com (please subscribe to our YouTube channel by the way) or, if you are the more ‘reclined’ type like me…keep reading, you will find the show embedded below the fold.

Before I go on -- there are some workshops to check out -- these are the awesome one-on-one interactive opportunities most often hosted by our chief geek Jimmy Ray: Check out ciscoworkshops.com for the latest.

This show has us going into Network Management again which is always of more interest than we initially projected -- and, like we do with all our shows, we made an attempt at a theme…something we felt would resonate with our technically inclined audience.  This is where our ‘anti-hero’ direction came from.  Now why would anyone diss on hero’s?

If there is one thing I have learned (and loved) about the engineers I have had the good fortune of working with over the years -- they can’t let a problem go.  I literally have to be careful with what I ask for help with because if I don’t think through how important it is to me….I may end up rat-holing Jimmy Ray for example.  He won’t let it go.  He can’t.  It’s not his DNA.  He, like many other smart guys I know, will hyper-focus to the detriment of all other activity.  Now, to be fair, some engineers are better than others at pulling back and putting things into perspective…perhaps deciding that the problem is unsolvable in the time frame or context that currently surrounds it. But in general, this is a both admirable and dangerous trait I have found.

Highest and Best Use

Now in relation to Network Management, and in today’s case, UC Network Management, I was struck by how powerfully helpful these tools are.  I began asking around to find out why, with so much evidence to support them, were these things not considered as baseline requirements for anyone doing Unified Communications? I do think a lot of it boils down to budget at that point of purchase, when a big system is being invested in, some things get red-lined out of the purchase order…but I truly think this is a mistake as the costs don’t really go away…they just re-locate.

Jimmy Ray and I got to talking about scripts and how valuable they are for engineers who will turn to them to solve all kinds of little petty repetitive tasks.  What is often forgotten, my hillbilly friend continued, is that they need to be thought of as a bandaid.  A bridge to be used on a temporary basis.  He would often use scripts as markers to explain to a vendor what feature/functionality was missing…which sounds honorable yet horribly painful as I can’t imagine its easy to call too many vendors and ask for something to be added to a future release cycle. Somehow however, I know that he did do it…I don’t doubt him.

If its not obvious already, the opportunity I am building towards is the fact that the UCMS Suite we are speaking to today already does a ton of things really really well.  My gut feel however is that there are many people inadvertently being the hero they know how to be and solving problems manually, hiding even the normal complexity required in these endeavors from their leadership.

The question to dig into here introspectively, is whether this is your highest and best use?

If not looking inwardly at yourself, as this may not directly apply to you -- could this be happening in your organization? Could one small investment in a good set of tools give you payback in ways that may be difficult to foresee?

I hope you will ask these questions -- lets review what is covered in today’s episode:

Unified Communications Management Made Simple

Our primary goal for today’s show is to review the ‘stuff’ that has to happen in a Unified Communications lifecycle, from Deployment through the various management phases.  If you would like, view the Prezi used by Laura and I to guide our conversation.

The Unified Communications Management Suite (UCMS) matches up with this lifecycle to provide a suite of integrated management products that simplify almost every element of our Cisco Unified Communications solutions. It consists of four applications, which can be purchased either as an integrated suite or as individual products.

The deep stuff covered in the show include the four products of the suite AND the new Cisco Prime Collaboration Manager which brings great UI to our management family and highlights the increasingly mature role that video is playing for our customers.

Mahal Mohan and Laura Powers

Four Products in the Suite

1. Cisco Unified Provisioning Manager is a highly automated provisioning tool for Cisco Unified Communications initial deployments and implementations. With automated processes for initial deployment and “day 2” moves, adds, and changes, Cisco Unified Provisioning Manager facilitates rapid installation and maintenance of Cisco Unified Communications components.

Jim Whitten and Jimmy Ray Purser

2. Cisco Unified Operations Manager provides comprehensive monitoring with proactive and reactive diagnostics for the entire Cisco Unified Communications system including the underlying transport infrastructure. The Unified Operations Manager presents the current operational status of the Cisco Unified Communications system through real-time service-level views of the network.

3. Cisco Unified Service Monitor monitors, alerts, and generates reports on user experience metrics associated with active calls on the Cisco Unified Communications system. It provides a comprehensive list of voice-impairment metrics useful in troubleshooting voice-quality issues.

The Cisco 1040 Sensor

  • The Cisco 1040 Sensor evaluates the actual Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) data streams of monitored calls and evaluates calls using the standards-based ITU G.107 R-factor.
  • Cisco Unified Service Monitor provides a distributed, scalable solution for cost-effective quality-of-voice monitoring.
  • Cisco Unified Service Monitor uses the same ease-of-deployment, scaling, and redundancy mechanisms as Cisco IP phones.
  • Cisco Unified Service Monitor voice-quality alerts integrate with Cisco Unified Operations Manager 1.1, in which their specialized display provides a launching point for diagnostic tools and processes.
  • The Cisco 1040 Sensor uses IEEE 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE) and integrates with IP telephony devices such as Cisco Unified IP phones, gateways, and telephony service such as voice mail to measure voice quality.
  • The Cisco 1040 Sensor is FCC Class B-compliant and can be installed in any office environment.

Robb Boyd and Laura Powers

4. Cisco Unified Service Statistics Manager provides advanced statistics analysis and reporting capabilities. Cisco Unified Service Statistics Manager leverages the data collection capabilities of Cisco Unified Operations Manager and Cisco Unified Service Monitor to harvest and consolidate performance statistics from a variety of Cisco devices, applications and systems. These collected statistics can then be verified against user defined service-level agreement (SLA) thresholds.

PRIME Collaboration Manager

Mark Emmerson shows off Cisco Prime Collaboration Manager from the Show Floor at Interop Las Vegas

Mark Emmerson from Interop

You need to pay attention to PRIME.   No only for what has been accomplished already…but also for what it promises. You can’t buy Prime…its a framework, but you can get the tools that are lining up underneath it..because as you master one…you begin to master them all…and that spells efficiency across the entire network.

Five attributes that can be found in every product found within the Prime family:

  1. Optimized Operations Experience
  2. Integrated Cisco Best Practices
  3. Complete Lifecycle Management
  4. Day One Device Support
  5. Smart Interactions

Recent editions to the family (we covered some of these on Episode 91, Prime Time for Policy and Management Show).

Further reading with some .pdf’s:

But lets get back to the stuff on this show -- Mark Emmerson was eager to show Collaboration Manager off and he agreed to meet with us early on the show floor at Interop before the crowds grew overwhelming at the booth

What can you do in a nutshell?

Monitor and Troubleshoot TelePresence in Real Time

  • Real-time, unified views of all Cisco TelePresence sessions in progress
  • End-to-end visibility into media paths for each TelePresence session
  • And a bonus for those of you investing in our improved Medianet capabilities -- Cisco Prime Collaboration Manager provides even deeper network path visibility, down to the granularity of video flow statistics.

Offer Exceptional User Experiences

  • Supports timely end-to-end visibility and isolation of video-related issues Speeds troubleshooting and recovery from service-affecting problems
  • Provides detailed analysis to quickly isolate service-degrading network devices
  • Delivers reports that help you track usage and problem history
  • In addition, Cisco Prime Collaboration Manager efficiently validates large-scale deployments. It comprehensively evaluates the inventory, health, and status of Cisco TelePresence endpoints, as well as service and network infrastructure devices.

Cisco Learning Network

Check out the ‘Essentials of the CCNA” or as always, www.ciscolearningnetwork.com

So. What is your ‘hero status’ here?  Do you agree that this is an issue with yourself or anyone you know?  Let me know below.  Be sure and subscribe/comment on either this blog, our YouTube page or by sending us an email (my least favorite is email…but many still do it).   We would love to chat in the open so all can benefit so avoid the email if you can -- perhaps your question or best practice could be featured in one of our Feedback Loop segments!  We will be happy to drop you a T-Shirt or maybe a CiscoPress book if you prefer.

Thanks for watching,

Robb

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