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Using Mobility to free you from the desktop – What we’ve learned about deploying Cisco Unified Mobility

Last week, I described what Cisco Unified Mobility is and what it does for me and the other thousands of employees at Cisco.  Today, let me tell you about the deployment process and what we learned.

Cisco IT Implementation

Cisco Unified Mobility requires our Cisco Unified Communications Managers to be on version 7.1 or above, and we started deploying the service soon after we’d upgraded to 7.1.  We deployed Cisco Unified Mobility in each of our 13 Cisco Unified Communications Manager clusters, rolling out the service on a site-by-site basis. This gradual transition process helped to smooth the impact of supporting users and the potential for spikes in outbound calls as employees began working with the SNR feature.  At first, we worried that a large number of calls going out to mobile phones from Cisco sites might overwhelm smaller outbound trunks, but so far we haven’t seen any problems there.  Also, our gradual site-based rollout made it easy to avoid countries that do not allow outbound calling from our private VoIP network to the PSTN (primarily in the Middle East, and in India).

One implementation decision may be a surprise:

For our internal deployment, we decided to restrict the outbound SNR calling capability to only a single remote destination for each employee. SNR supports as many as four remote destinations, but each call simultaneously occupies an outbound port until it is answered or transferred to the employee’s Cisco Unity voice mailbox. We were concerned that occupying this many ports would impact network bandwidth, especially in a disaster, given our large employee base and the potential SNR adoption rate. But because most employees prefer that calls are sent only to their mobile phones, this restriction hasn’t been a concern for them.  A user can change the remote destination at any time so the limitation really is not that restrictive.

Key Lessons Learned

Based on our experience, here are important lessons to keep in mind for deploying Cisco Unified Mobility:

  • Even when employers have to pay for mobile minutes to receive a forwarded call, they use the SNR feature because it simplifies communications and increases customer satisfaction. But employees who travel can often avoid roaming charges by having calls forwarded to their mobile phone over the Cisco network instead of the cellular network with our Dual Mode Roaming solutions.
  • The biggest problem employees had in setting up this service for themselves – which took about 10 minutes to do – was providing their mobile phone number using the E 164 international standard.  To help employees enter their forwarding profiles correctly, Cisco IT provided emails and an internal support site with the correct phone number formats for each country. Surprising how many variants there actually are.
  • We also felt that employees would need some guidance on the timing of the handover to voicemail, so we provided some guidelines.  These change from carrier to carrier, but they are a good place to start.:
    • Set your mobile phone to ring 4 seconds after your office phone (delay before ringing timer), so you can pick up your office phone first, but not add a noticeable delay (about one ring) for the caller if you do pick it up with your mobile.
    • Keep your “answer too soon” timer to the default 3 seconds, so your mobile phone voicemail won’t pick up the call if your mobile is offline.
    • Let your mobile phone ring 3-4 times before going back to the office Unity voicemail by setting “change new ring no answer” to 18 seconds and “answer too late” to 19 seconds.
  • Rolling out the service on a site-by-site basis encouraged user adoption through word-of-mouth. However, while we can count the number of people who have set up their SNR profile, it has been difficult to identify active users, because employees can create and setup a remote destination profile, but never actually use the mobility features.  The service really is used by the caller, not the callee, in the end.

Overall, deploying Cisco Unified Mobility features was easy.  Our employees appreciate that these mobility features provide the shortest path to reaching them by phone, wherever they are right now.

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