Cisco Teams With Microsoft, Citrix On VoIP, Realtime Communications


According to the terms of the two separate deals, unveiled Monday at VoiceCon 2006 in Orlando, Fla., Cisco will collaborate with the two ISVs on technical and marketing fronts, enabling the development of integrated solutions for Cisco Unified CallManager and other Cisco products.

Plans call for Microsoft to integrate its Office Communicator 2005 and Open Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based Office Live Communications Server with Cisco's new SIP-based Unified Communications system. The interoperability solution is slated to be available in August for new installations and upgrades of current customers.

Cisco and Microsoft are developing a converged solution that offers desktop IP telephony call control, which would allow customers, for example, to click to call and transfer phone calls from Office Communicator without human intervention. Users also would be able to launch or answer a phone call from within Office Communicator and host the call from a PC or a desk phone, Microsoft said. The solution is based on SIP, SIP for Instant Messaging and presence leveraging extensions (SIMPLE).

The combined Cisco and Microsoft solution also would enable customers to view Cisco Unified IP Phone presence status from within Office Communicator and seamlessly switch between Office Communicator instant-messaging and voice sessions, the companies said.

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Under the Cisco-Citrix partnership, the two companies aim to integrate presence and call-processing capabilities with enterprise applications deployed over Citrix's application delivery platforms. Initially, Cisco and Citrix have committed to integrating Citrix Application Gateway and the Citrix Voice Office suite with Cisco Unified CallManager and Cisco Unified Presence Server, said Murli Thirumale, group vice president of the Citrix Gateway Group.

That will add SIP-based user presence information and dialing capabilities to Citrix Voice Office applications on Cisco IP telephones and enterprise applications using Citrix's Smart Agent technology, Citrix said. The smart agent technology was introduced in October as part of the launch of Application Gateway 6.0.

Smart Agent, for example, can deliver application data from SAP to screens and speakers of IP phones and wireless devices. Citrix's Voice Office is a package of telephony applications that customers and solution providers can use out of the box.

Cisco and Citrix plan to demonstrate the presence-enabled applications at VoiceCon this week and to ship the first set of integrated products in the second half. Citrix also said at VoiceCon that it aims to add voice access to its access infrastructure solutions and offer them through the channel by the end of the year. In addition, Cisco agreed to market Citrix Application Gateway and the Citrix Voice Office suite through the Cisco Solutions Plus program.

One solution provider who partners with Citrix and Cisco said the vendors' alliance will enable him to provide value-added solutions to his Cisco customers that leverage Citrix technology--and to make more money.

"The Citrix Voice Office application suite enables enterprises to further leverage their IP telephony investments while increasing our margins and providing additional [professional services] opportunities," said Mark Westling, vice president and CTO of Right Systems, a Citrix partner in Olympia, Wash. "We have been working closely with Citrix's Application Gateway Group to provide these solutions to our customers."