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Cisco Unveils New IP Telephony Products

Cisco Systems unveiled a slew of new IP telephony products that solution providers said should expand sales opportunities into both large and SMB client bases.

IP client

Cisco Tuesday introduced new products and product upgrades to its unified messaging, call processing, audio/video conferencing, contact center and infrastructure lines.

Designed as part of Cisco's "progressive productivity" strategy, the products should enable more efficient communications between customers' employees and between those employees and their partners or customers, said Hank Lambert, director of product marketing for the enterprise voice and video business at Cisco.

The latest version of Cisco's unified messaging software, Unity 4.0, adds support for Lotus Domino, enabling end users to access and manage messages from their Lotus Notes in-boxes. Previously, the product only supported Microsoft Exchange.

"They were cutting out part of their target market because they were cutting out Lotus," said Eric Steinmetzer, director of infrastructure software services at Logical, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based network integrator. "This should open up a slew of opportunities," he said.

The upgrade also adds support for new communications and interoperability protocols, including VPIM (Voice Profile for Internet Mail), AMIS (analog messaging interface standard) and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol).

Available in December, Unity 4.0 unified messaging costs $135 per user or $65 per user for voice mail.

To help attract SMB clients, Cisco expanded the low end of its IP telephone line in December with the launch of the 7905G, which provides inline power support and a pixel-based display for $165. Previously, Cisco's lowest priced phone was the 7910, starting at $215.

For many SMB clients, the high cost of IP equipment, and handsets in particular, has been a major stumbling block to IP telephony implementations, said Steve Fitzhenry, vice president of sales at 4Front Systems, a network integrator based in Morrisville, N.C.

"Typically, people who install IP telephony are major corporations that see the business value, but the price can be prohibitive for small organizations," Fitzhenry said.

CallManager 3.3, the latest version of Cisco's call processing software, expands the scalability of the platform to support up to 30,000 IP phones per IP-PBX cluster, up from 10,000 IP phones per cluster, Lambert said.

To support the scalability increase on the hardware side, Cisco released the 7845 Media Convergence Server (MCS), supporting 7,500 phones per server, with four active servers per cluster.

Available in December, CallManager 3.3 starts at $3,995 when purchased in conjunction with a Cisco MCS. The 7845 MCS, available now, is priced at $39,995 for 5,000 users or $47,495 for 7,500 users.

Cisco refreshed its entry-level IP/VC 3500 product line, increasing both performance and security features.

Available now, the IP/VC 3511 Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) is priced at $24,950. The line also includes two gateways, the IP/VC 3521-GW-4B for $12,950 and the IP/VC 3526-GW-1P for $21,950.

Cisco also introduced new contact centers and infrastructure products.

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