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UC and Video – Phones of the Future

What will phones in the future look like?  If our experience at Cisco is any guide, there will be more and more phones, and they will look like almost anything. They will all have two things in common:  they will all bring people together – and they will do it with voice and video.  Always video.

The video may be on a small screen that fits in your pocket, or expands to your pad or laptop, a bigger screen that fits on the desk, or screens that cover the wall bringing people, lifesized, to your meetings from around the world.

At Cisco, we’re using all of these “phones” (although only one or two looks at all like a phone), and they all work together to bring people together, face to face.  Some share more than voice and video, adding presence information and contacts and instant click to call or click to chat or click to share desktops

Here’s Rich Gore from Cisco IT, to give a quick look at these different “phones” in use at Cisco today.

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UC on UCS – The Invisible Servers

Cisco IT completely changed our voice and video infrastructure in the data center – and nobody noticed!

We changed the systems that Cisco IT uses to run ALL our voice and video supporting:

  • 200,000 voice endpoints in 540 buildings around the world,
  • 87,000 voicemail boxes
  • 1600 TelePresence units
  • 8.6 Million Webex meetings per year
  • Our customer contact centers handling 22M calls / year

It was a big job, migrating all these services off of 574 Cisco MCS servers, and onto new Virtual Machines running on 191 Cisco UCS servers in 12 different data centers.  It took a while, but it was truly worth it, despite the fact that nobody noticed.

We reduced the amount of data center resources significantly – less space, less power, fewer cables. Even better, we now have all our voice and video running on virtual machines, making operations jobs and updates and growth a good deal easier, and faster. Best of all, though, we moved all our voice and video to a completely new server platform  — and nobody noticed!

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Managing a Massive Voice Infrastructure with Cisco Prime Collaboration

Cisco IT monitors and manages a huge voice infrastructure, with over 200,000 UC endpoints, and the Cisco Prime Collaboration solution helps us do this work efficiently.

For example, a common problem for my team is identifying which devices are provisioned in the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Cisco UCM), but are no longer in use. This issue is getting more complex as Cisco employees have multiple devices associated with their one directory number. In a typical case, a salesperson might have a desk phone and a Cisco TelePresence personal video endpoint in the office, another phone in their home office, and use Cisco Jabber clients on a laptop and smartphone at home, at customer sites, or while traveling. Cisco Prime Collaboration lets me easily view this information and verify that the employee is actively using all of these devices.

Hardware phones in particular can become inactive when an employee leaves or transfers and no one else moves to that desk. Cisco Prime Collaboration lets me easily identify and remove that phone. We can also detect which employees haven’t downloaded the latest Jabber client version and encourage them to update their devices to the currently supported software.

Cisco Prime Collaboration gives me a very easy graphical interface to see into the whole global network, and then allows me to drill down to any components to see what’s going on.

Figure 1:  Sample CPC Network Topology, enabling drilldown on each location and device

CPC Voice Jim Marshall - Figure 1 of 2 Read More »

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Deploying Extension Mobility Globally

Cisco employees are moving towards a mobile collaborative office environment – within the workplace. We sit where we like and log into the nearest phone, using extension mobility. But when we traveled to different Cisco offices around the world, we couldn’t log in to the Cisco IP phone:  extension mobility only worked at certain limited locations within our home region.

Now, employee phones can essentially follow them to any Cisco office worldwide because Cisco IT deployed the Extension Mobility Cross Cluster (EMCC) feature on Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Cisco UCM).

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Collaboration Evolution: Why Your School Should Migrate to Next-Generation Communications Systems

In today’s digital world, communication platforms matter. In a recent Cisco Government blog post we looked at how antiquated communication systems hold back government agencies. The same holds true for educational institutions.

Legacy TDM and Centrex systems are costly to manage and limit collaboration, precluding schools and universities from truly embracing the advantages that next generation communications has to offer. As the advantages of voice over IP (VoIP) systems become well-known and widespread, more colleges and schools are making the transition and network administrators, students, teachers and parents are reaping the benefits. Read More »

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