The UCStrategies Experts share their expertise in bylined articles, opinion pieces, blogs, and podcasts, to define unified communications, educate you about unified communications technologies, and help you make informed decisions about unified communications solutions.
UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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At its Collaboration Summit Cisco unveiled enhancements to its collaboration portfolio by: (1) bringing into its Hosted Collaboration Service (HCS) both TelePresence bridging and many of the capabilities of Cisco Unified Communications Release 9.0; and (2) extending Cisco WebEx to the Private Cloud. The offering of feature parity between premise and cloud gives customers more flexibility in their UCC consumption choices. And partners will be provided with additional “as-a-Service” revenue opportunities via the HCS enhancements to grow their business, as well as an expanded addressable market through the new way to deploy WebEx for those customers who prefer an on-premise solution.
New HCS technologies are targeted for global availability in Q4 CY 2012.
The HCS solution with TelePresence Exchange (CTX) integrates a shared multitenant media solution for video to enable a “static bridge” service option, also known as “rendezvous conferencing,” for secure B2B services for video and telepresence. The service creation platform offers simplified management and coordination of media resources, configurable service levels, and open application programming interface (API) for further service customization. This solution enables partners to extend their hosted UCC service portfolios to include telepresence as a service. Through the integration of CTX with HCS, customers have the ability to connect multiple locations, including external vendors and suppliers, at the same time. Via the hosted model, customers simply buy or lease the endpoints and the partner provides the backend technology.
Cisco is extending many of the latest Cisco UC capabilities announced earlier this summer to the cloud via HCS.
Contact Center integration:Through HCS enhancements for Customer Collaboration, partners can easily manage multiple contact centers for customers. Additionally, HCS partners can arm customers with a highly-customizable Web 2.0 collaboration desktop that puts relevant information that call center agents need in a single, modifiable cockpit. Agents can use this information to assist callers faster, better, and with greater accuracy.
Extend and Connect: Controlled by Jabber and enabled by Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) 9.0, Extend and Connect brings third-party phones into the Cisco UC environment. This feature offers those enterprise customers migrating to CUCM 9.0 an opportunity to leverage their existing investments further without compromising the ability of their employees to benefit from new UCC capabilities. In addition, telecommuters and business travelers can initiate a Jabber session on their PC device, input the phone number of their preferred voice device, and have CUCM route all voice traffic directly to that phone number while all the call control remains anchored in the Jabber client. In this way a knowledge worker can initiate a conference call from home, for example, with office features and billing associated with his/her office phone.
Extend and Connect operates on signaling and call control data, not VoIP, so it requires no Quality of Service (QoS) and is bandwidth stingy. That means users will be able to leverage the Cisco UC environment despite slow or unreliable connections, including those sometimes found in cafes, hotels, and home offices. Jabber is a software client and includes IM/P, voice, voice messaging, video, desktop sharing and conferencing.
Connecting the dots between enterprise and mobile networks:With IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) integration capabilities, Cisco HCS partners can offer Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) capabilities to their customers. This helps mobile service providers connect enterprise and mobile networks, offering seamless services between the two. This offering also enables operators to provide voice over 4G data networks.
Cisco WebEx Meetings Server, targeted for global availability in Q4 CY 2012, is an on-premise version of WebEx that gives customers the capability to run WebEx out of their own private cloud datacenter. It’s a full collaboration solution including WebEx clients for PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad; high quality video; desktop sharing, annotation, and collaboration tools; recording and playback. Integration with Cisco’s UC suite that extends IP telephony to conferencing, and provides escalation from a Jabber IM session to a full WebEx meeting directly from the Jabber client is targeted for availability January, 2013. As subsequent releases come out, other mobile devices will be added and movement to HD video will occur.
To Customers: Collaboration Summit places a lot of emphasis on giving customers choice in the way that they deploy collaboration solutions – be that private cloud, public cloud or hybrid.
For example, those customers who purchased CUCM 9.0 as a premised-based solution can now actually have those services deployed in the cloud as well via HCS.
Then, there are customers who are very sensitive to data privacy and are just unwilling to trust cloud-based solutions. In addition, there are some markets where the regulations are such that cloud-based WebEx is not a viable solution. Or you’re in the part of the world where a cloud-based solution is infeasible. And there are still customers who want to have the choice between a CapEx model and OpEx model. These are customers who are willing to say, "look, I’ll pay the CapEx upfront and run it myself. I think I can save more money that way, than going to the Opex model." The WebEx meeting server announcement serves these types of markets.
To Partners: Cisco has been very focused about putting partners at the center of its cloud strategy. Last month Cisco announced the Master Cloud Builder Specialization that offers elite branding, deeper engagement with Cisco sales teams and financial incentives. At Collaboration Summit Cisco will be discussing with partners what they’ve done to make WebEx resale viable and the new WebEx Advanced Technology Partner (ATP) specialization that will be available for them as well. The WebEx ATP specialization is for partners who are actually incorporating WebEx into their own offerings.
The total WebEx addressable market will likely increase because partners can now get to those customers who historically were not willing to embrace a cloud-based web conferencing solution.
Through the integration of CTX into HCS, partners can more efficiently manage the infrastructure necessary to enable TelePresence and videoconferencing, while also leveraging that infrastructure across their entire customer base. This enables partners to avoid making separate infrastructure investments for each customer. In addition, this solution enables partners to extend their hosted UCC service portfolios to include telepresence as a service.
Cisco is also expanding HCS by bringing in many of the capabilities of CUCM 9.0 including the video and customer collaboration. This opens new ways for partners to create recurring revenue streams because it offers multiple insertion points. Partners will now be able to approach customers by helping them initiate their contact center and then upsell them with upgrades to their UCC infrastructure. The fact that Cisco can now offer feature parity between premise and cloud, so customers don’t have to make a choice when they pick a deployment model is a big attraction point for partners.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?