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Simplifying Management of Consolidated Networks

It started with voice: Get more from your corporate infrastructure investments by moving audio traffic onto the data network. It was a good idea that made good financial sense. It caught on. It became pervasive.

As it did, we looked for more ways to leverage that same network investment – extending it to include instant messaging, presence, and video. This evolution vastly increased the significance and value of these collaboration tools. But that sophistication came with management challenges.

When limited to IP telephony, the management tools could live within the solution itself. But extending the scope with more elements added complexity and new challenges: Not only were there additional pieces to roll out, monitor, and manage, but now you had to master management interfaces for each one.

Simplicity is one of the key tenets of an effective collaboration solution. Collaboration is about making connections. It’s about removing barriers that make it difficult or frustrating for people to connect. You want it to take fewer clicks to access the information and people you need to make decisions and interact effectively. The smoother the process, the quicker and better quality the results.

For users across an organization to adopt a collaboration solution, it has to be easy and intuitive. By the same thinking, if the deployment and management are too difficult, chances are the IT department won’t adopt the technology. The last thing IT needs is more complexity.

Cisco has made significant efforts to consolidate and simplify the management of collaboration networks. Read More »

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Another Milestone: Gartner Names Cisco a Leader in Telephony

We continue to evolve the ways we interact and communicate. Still, telephony remains a foundation element of business communications.  Even as we bring technologies into the collaboration mix, telephony is still a default option for many situations. It’s ubiquitous. It provides real-time, personal, human interaction that’s critical to communications with peers, customers, partners.

Given the importance of telephony, we’re always pleased when recognized for having powerful technology products. Continuing a history of recognition that goes back 12  years, Gartner named Cisco a leader in the 2014 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony.  Gartner maps companies in the telephony space according to their “ability to execute” and “completeness of vision.” Cisco lands in the top-right of that grid.

Gartner 2014 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony

Gartner 2014 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony

Our unified communications and telephony products are the most prevalent of our collaboration portfolio. The core of our corporate telephony platform, Read More »

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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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