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Simplifying Global Voice Operations

Cisco IT has deployed voice infrastructure around the world in order to handle our 1+ million voice calls per day with high levels of quality and reliability. We used to manage this infrastructure with four separate regional teams: one managing the Western part of North America, another managing Eastern North America and Latin America, the third Europe/Middle East/Africa, and the fourth Asia/Pacific. But we found that this regional organization led to inconsistent operations because the regional teams had different ideas on how things should be done and they applied our corporate standards in different ways.

Our early lack of global consistency led to inefficiency in our support operations.   We would have people from different time zones trying to help troubleshoot problems and be unable to support an unfamiliar configuration.  And this meant that our regional teams had to provide around-the-clock support by themselves – which led to sleepless nights and frayed nerves.
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Hosted vs. Installed VoIP: Which One is Right for You?

Business needs, growth plans, and in-house expertise will influence your decision

Once you’ve made the decision to replace your legacy phone system with a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution, you must decide whether a hosted service or an on-site installation is better for your small business. Both delivery methods have unique pros and cons, and, like most technologies, one type is not inherently better than the other. Some small businesses will prefer the ease and scalability of a hosted VoIP service, while others will opt for the greater control and customization of a premise-based VoIP phone system.

VoIP has become the new standard in voice communications, in part because it offers a richer set of features than analog phone systems. A range of call management, monitoring, reporting, messaging, conferencing, and security features is fairly standard among both hosted and installed solutions. Your choice between delivery methods will be determined by whether you treat your phone system as a capital expenditure (CapEx) or an operating expenditure (OpEx) as well as your company’s plans for growth and available in-house expertise.

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Essential Skills for Today’s Unified Communications Operations Staff

Just a decade ago, supporting enterprise voice services was simpler, our voice operations support scope was smaller, and one person could be proficient in everything you needed to know for voice operations. But as IP telephony capabilities grew into Unified Communications, the skills our engineers had to be proficient in grew exponentially.

Today, we support UC systems and collaboration platforms, both on traditional hardware and now on virtualized server platforms (Cisco UCS). We still support phones and softphones, but now we also support mobility services, video phones and mobile devices like the Cisco Cius, voice and video conferencing, menus of phone-based services, and ever-more sophisticated customer support tools in our contact centers. There are now so many things within the scope of the UC systems that we manage that it would be extremely difficult in an enterprise the size of Cisco to be an expert in everything. So, individuals on our voice operations team need to specialize.

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Considerations When Buying a New Phone System

Features, cost, and vendor relationship should all factor into your purchasing decision

If there’s one piece of technology no business can manage without, it’s a professional-grade phone system. The right phone system can improve employee productivity and customer service—both of which can have a positive impact on your bottom line. If you choose an IP-based phone system, you’re also laying the foundation for additional advanced technologies such as unified communications (UC). When shopping for a phone system, you should consider your company’s requirements (size, future growth, number of locations, functionality required), factors that impact the final cost, and what you need from your vendor relationship.

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Mythbusters: Can you rely on VoIP for Your Business?

When it comes to making technology decisions for your small business, there’s a lot of information to sift through. Sometimes, determining whether that information is accurate can be difficult. To help you separate fact from fiction, we’re launching a new monthly series called Mythbusters, in which we’ll tackle a common technology misconception.

In this first Mythbusters, we set the record straight about voice over IP, or VoIP, and whether it’s reliable for your business. Once upon a time, no business that wanted reliable phone service would have considered switching from a traditional analog phone system, or private branch exchange (PBX), to an IP-based solution. The call quality was inconsistent, including jitters (clicks and other undesired audio effects), delays, and drop outs.

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