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Can You Hear Me Now? Celebrating 15 Years of IP Phone Innovation

For those of you who follow my blog, you might have noticed that much of what I write about is focused on video collaboration.  However, before the video boom started, there was a more dominant means of communication – one we all still use today in one form or another – and that is voice.

There has been quite a bit of change over the past 15 years – the world, and the workplace, has evolved considerably.  The explosion of mobile, cloud and collaboration technologies has truly changed the way we work, bridging geographical barriers and improving business processes. Despite all of the change; however, there has been one constant sitting on my desk since 1999, a Cisco IP phone.

This year marks the 15th Anniversary of Cisco’s first IP phone, the Cisco SP12+, aka the world’s first desktop IP phone. Over the years we’ve seen a number of upgrades and enhancements made to our IP phone portfolio – a few of our models have even achieved celebrity status! Whether it was Ari Gold using the 7985 to call his “Entourage,” or a parrot calling in a murder via a gold IP phone on CSI, Cisco IP phones have been connecting important conversations since they first hit the scene.

While there are far too many cutting edge phones and exciting milestones to count, here are a few of my favorites: Read More »

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What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting Have in Common? Part 2

April 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm PST

What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting have in Common?

If you read my previous blog then you’ll already know that the answer is Medianet. In Part 1 of this 2 Part blog series I discussed the new reverse Metadata capability, provided by a Cisco network, that allows an Enterprise to enable granular QoS marking for all the different media streams that make up a WebEx meeting. In this 2nd instalment, we’re going to take a look at how we can extend Medianet’s Mediatrace capability to Cisco’s 79XX, 89XX and 99XX IP Phone portfolio.

The other recent innovation for Medianet is Prime Collaboration’s ability to now invoke a Mediatrace for a number of IP Phones models that don’t support the MSI (Media Services Interface). As these devices cannot originate Metadata, it has been previously impossible start a Mediatrace through end point selection for telephones in Prime Collaboration. It is now possible, reactively and proactively, to troubleshoot voice quality issues on 79XX, 89XX and 99XX devices, using the same combination of Medianet and Prime Collaboration tools that have previously only been applicable to personal and room based video systems. Take a look at one of my previous blogs, “Medianet in Action”, for some additional background material on video troubleshooting. The demonstration below shows how to start a Mediatrace for a pair of phones.

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What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting Have in Common? Part 1

April 15, 2014 at 11:37 am PST

What do WebEx QoS and Phone Troubleshooting have in Common?

The answer is Medianet, which in conjunction with a Cisco network can provide an innovative solution for two very different real life problems. In Part 1 of this 2 Part blog we’re going to discuss how customers can use Medianet Metadata to provide a robust QoS mechanism for the WebEx cloud service within their Enterprise Networks. Keep an eye out for Part 2  where we’re going to take a look at how we can extend Medianet’s Mediatrace capability to Cisco’s 79XX, 89XX and 99XX IP Phone portfolio. I’ll also point out the benefits for each of these completely different Medianet use cases.

WebEx is a SaaS Conferencing service providing web based data, audio and video conferencing for millions of users. As it’s a cloud service, it’s inherently secure and in a lot of use cases it will tunnel all its media streams within HTTPS. That’s great for secure transport, but it’s resultantly challenging to map the constituent parts of the WebEx application into a granular Enterprise QoS policy. Why would we want to do that anyway? Isn’t it good enough to mark all the WebEx traffic the same?  As the saying goes, there is a method to our madness.The tunnelled WebEx traffic contains control packets, data-sharing traffic and possibly VoIP, which are relatively low bandwidth media streams. On the flip side any tunnelled video traffic will likely be bandwidth hungry by nature. The challenge we want to circumvent is how to ensure the WebEx video traffic does not “swamp” the other types of meeting traffic. Ultimately, we want to allow end users to enable the video service they have paid for, without the risk of video having a negative impact on the overall quality of the online conference. We do everything with the end user in mind to make sure you have the best possible experience.

For those of you that don’t know, a WebEx client can generate Medianet Metadata. In simple terms, Metadata is a way for a Cisco application to announce itself to a Cisco network. In the case of WebEx, different Metadata packets are transmitted onto the network, uniquely identifying all the component media streams (including video) that comprise a WebEx conference. This allows a Cisco network to useWebEx Metadata to differentiate between any WebEx traffic types, even when securely tunnelled over a HTTPS connection. The figure below provides an illustration of the different Metadata packets that will be generated for different types of WebEx traffic.

Figure 1 – Identifying Different Flows using Metadata

Figure 1 – Identifying Different Flows using Metadata

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Deciding Upon a Collaboration Solution: Do Open Standards Still Matter?

While I was participating in a web conference from my home office, I started thinking about how much and how fast things have changed in the last decade around communications and how we use collaboration tools in the office, at home and on the road and most importantly the number of devices available to me so I CAN collaborate over distance.

One thing that stays constant in this industry is change, especially when it comes to devices. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see if you can remember any of these once “have to have” mobile devices. The Nokia 9000, The Motorola “Flip phone” and The “Razor”, Palm Pilot, dare I say the Blackberry and of course at the start of 2007 the IPhone came on to the market — and we all know how that is playing out — this being a rarity. More recently, Samsung is challenging Apple with the Galaxy and DROID OS is becoming more prevalent than IOS. Last I checked, there was an estimated 1.3 million Read More »

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Cisco Recognized in Leadership Position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony

Gartner recently released their 2012 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony, and I am incredibly pleased to share that Cisco was placed in the leader’s quadrant.  These results come just after Cisco was recognized as a leader in Gartner’s 2012 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications.  We believe that, together, these reports signal the momentum that Cisco is experiencing as a leader in Collaboration.

And yes, the momentum has been strong! This past April, Cisco achieved a new milestone by shipping more than 50 million IP phones. We’ve also gained significant traction with Cisco Jabber, which enables instant messaging, conferencing, voice and telepresence video on multiple devices, increasing 55% in license volume year over year.

Our history of success has been validated many times before, not only by sales growth and market share gains, but also acknowledged by technology analysts as an industry leading vendor in this space for more than ten years. Most of you have followed this validation and we believe this year’s Magic Quadrant is just another example.

At Cisco, we understand that our customers don’t make decisions on data, voice or video alone. Instead, they are looking for integrated solutions that deliver the rich media capabilities their users demand, and at the same time, provide the agility, resiliency and high quality experiences the business demands.

According to Gartner analysts Jay Lassman, Geoff Johnson, and Steve Blood in their Corporate Telephony report, “We evaluated vendors for their understanding of how customer needs are changing (both for users and the IT group responsible for managing telephony). It was especially important to see how vendors proposed to complement, or compete with, UC collaboration solutions.” Read More »

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