Cisco UC Update Includes Third-Party Endpoint Support


Cisco Tuesday confirmed several updates to its Unified Communications Manager (UCM) platform, including support for third-party conferencing endpoints and fixed mobile convergence.

Cisco in recent years has heavily emphasized unified communications and collaboration, an area executives have described to CRN as a $42 billion-plus market opportunity for Cisco partners. Recent investments in the portfolio have included an expansion of Cisco's WebEx brand to cover its social collaboration and hosted TelePresence offerings, and a range of program enhancements for its popular Jabber client.

Jabber figures heavily into Cisco's latest software update, UC Release 9.0, which includes a new feature called "Extend and Connect" to bring any third-party phone into use with a Cisco UC environment. In practice, business users input the phone number of their voice device into a Jabber client and the Cisco UCM will route voice traffic to that phone number.

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Cisco also is now offering fixed mobile convergence whereby business users can opt to have their inbox, message waiting, call-back, conference or direct-extension dialing features tied to their mobile device service from Cisco UCM.

Other features specific to contact center customers include a packaged deployment of Cisco contact center software for enterprises and precision routing enhancements for that software. Cisco also has bolstered its UC platform's video support through features such as Call Admission Control (CAC) -- a way for the system to dynamically update traffic management and preserve call quality -- support for more Cisco video endpoints, and a "dial by e-mail" function through which a user can reach any endpoint in the Cisco system using an e-mail address instead of a phone number.

The last substantial announcement concerns licensing, and under UC Release 9.0, businesses will purchase UC software licenses from Cisco based on the types of workers they serve, whether "deskless," "desk-bound," "occasionally mobile" or "road warrior."

In addition, the new Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing Premium Edition adds mobile solutions such as Cisco Jabber Mobile to how Cisco packages its collaboration software.

UC Release 9.0 is scheduled for release in the third quarter of calendar 2012, according to Cisco, San Jose, Calif. The Extend and Connect feature requires both UC Release 9.0 and Cisco Jabber 9.1, the latter of which will be available in the fourth quarter.

"Enterprise IT managers want to address demands for access to collaborative technologies on a variety of devices," Thomas Wyatt, vice president and general manager for Cisco's Collaboration Infrastructure Business Unit, said in a statement. "At the same time, resellers are looking to enable IT managers to maximize the value of existing investments while they transition to next-generation collaboration technologies. Cisco UC Release 9.0 does all of this."

This story was originally published on June 26.