Archive for the ‘Voice and Unified Communications’ Category

Cisco UC520 Overview

June 28th, 2009 admin No comments

The Cisco UC520 is a turnkey solution recommend for small and SMB businesses with requirements for Internet, Security, Wireless, Voice, and Unified Communications. This is a turnkey solution where all of these solutions are integrated together.

Let’s talk about some of the options on our appliance.

First, we see 8 ethernet ports which are enabled for Power over Ethernet to power devices such as IP Phones or Access Points.

On the far right of the appliance we will see two dedicated ethernet ports. The first one is the WAN port dedicated for connecting into an Internet modem or router such as DSL or Cable. The second port is an extended port where we can connect other switches treating the UC520 as a LAN Collapsed Core.

Moving ahead, we see two set of analog ports. These ports are the FXO ports, which are used for connecting an analog line from a PSTN. That line would be associated to a DID or phone number. So, all placed and received calls would occur through this analog line.

The next ports are the FXS ports, which are used for connecting analog devices such as analog phones and fax machines.

Port 0 on both the FXO and FXS ports between these modules provide PFO or PSTN Failover Over. If there is a power outage we can connect an analog phone to port 0 on the FXS module and place direct calls out through the FXO port for emergency calling.

We also have an expansion slot where we can install other voice cards such as FXO or FXS modules.

Here is the FLASH card on the appliance where our IOS image and other files are located.

Focusing on the far left now, we see the console port which allows us to connect our system to the console and configure the UC520. The UC520 can be managed using the console, Telnet, SSH, or web application recommended by Cisco. However, to enable some of the advanced features such as IPv6, Multicast, and VRF you need to use the CLI.

We also see a Wireless antenna where this particular model supports 802.11G wireless where we can create multiple wireless networks for Employees and one for Guest users.

We see an audio port jack with a musical note. This is used for connecting a device like a iPod that can play a playlist for Music On Hold callers.

We also see four LEDs reflecting the operational status of the UC520. One is for the system overall, the second is for the Power over Ethernet operations, the third LED is for Voicemail operations, and the last one if for Wireless connectivity. A connected user would remain solid.

The Cisco UC520 provides a wide variety voice features and capabilities such as:
- CallManager Express for Call Processing
- Cisco Unity Express for Voicemail and Unified Messaging
- Auto Attendant
- Conferencing
- Voicemail messages sent via Email
- Extension Mobility
- Intercom, Paging
- Fax to Email
- and more!

Other features and services on the appliance include
- IP Routing with OSPF and EIGRP
- VLANs and 802.1q Trunking
- Quality of Service
- Stateful Firewall using Reflexive ACL or CBAC
- IPSec VPNs for site and client connections
- DMVPN for dynamic VPN tunnels
- and Advanced Technologies such as IPv6, IP Multicast, and VRF

The Cisco UC520 is a robust turnkey solution that can be used for small and SMB businesses for various network solutions.

This concludes our video on the Cisco UC520. You can get more details on configuring the Cisco UC520 appliance at

Cisco Contact Center Express Delays and Disappointments with Cisco

June 9th, 2009 admin No comments

The one thing that has become very evident through-out the Internet community is the lack of resources and discussion focused around Cisco Call Center solutions.  Whether it is white-papers/data sheets from company web site to even message boards.  You ask a question about Call Center, no one really answers. This includes any training materials.  Maybe the need for a Call Center solution is becoming rare or being outsourced.

Cisco Systems has a Call Center product line aligned for SMB to Large Enterprises.  There is Cisco Contact Center Express (versions 5 and 6) and Cisco Contact Center Enterprise.

Cisco Contact Center Express, also known under a different name IPCC Express, is a very popular Call Center product solution that can be integrated with your Cisco CallManager Express or Cisco Unified Communication Manager (CallManager) environment.

It provides basic to advanced scripting for your call center that meets your requirements, calls forwarding into call queues, calls forwarded based on agent skill sets, and a lot more.

So that is some basic understanding of the product line.  On to the delays and disappointments.

We purchased Cisco Contact Center Express 5 (CCX5) for a Microsoft Gold Partner Provider who currently has Cisco Unified Communication Manager 5 and using Exchange 2007 for Unified Messaging.   The CCX5 would provide a more robust solution for their current technical support center than what they are using today.

We purchased the server, software, licensing, and support back in June 2008.  The server, software, and smartnet arrived in about a week.  Except for the licensing.  One month has passed and the order for the CCX licensing was still open and not shipped.  We called in to see what was going on.  Cisco said that the item was on a New Product Hold.  They have no ETA on when it will be ready.   Well, I had no idea what they were talking about, but assumed that few weeks it would be clear.  The customer wasn’t in desperate need to deploy the solution.  That would soon change.

However, two more months did pass and the item was still open.  The customer was now very upset which was escalated from the CTO then to the CEO.  We were going to loose this project and this customer.

We called back into our disty (our distributor, Ingram Micro) for an answer right away and for this to be escalated. I wanted an ETA on when this will be shipped.  Again, Cisco did not give any ETA nor have any information to give.  So, we were suppose to go back and tell the customer that we have no updates or any idea on when the licensing will be available.  Wrong answer!  Cisco should know better.

We got Cisco Gold Partners involved and spoke with other Cisco SE from other channels to see what they can do.  There was nothing they could do either.  With no ETA or information the customer demanded an alternative solution.

Luckily, there Call Center needs were basic, and the Cisco Attendant Console within there CallManager appliance provided what they needed.

As of now, 4 months has past and the item is still OPEN.  If you purchase the CCX5 today from any vendor or partner there will be delays due to the NPH.

So basically a “New Product Hold” can last between 3-6 months.  No escalation or pressure or anything can change the manufacturing of the product any sooner.  There are no ETAs  or any additional information provided.

Our recommendations for other consultants and companies is to first determine the lead time on any Cisco product that you order.

Try to avoid any direct shipment from Cisco.  If it’s available at the disty’s wherehouse then that is a better and safer bet.

If the product is out of stock or backordered or on a “New Product Hold” determine the availability on that item from your disty or Cisco.  If they have no ETA of useful info to provide take note of that.

If an item is on a New Product Hold communicate that with the customer, discuss what that means, that 6 months or longer the product won’t be available with no info or updates you can provide.  Determine possible alternatives and solutions that can still align with the business requirements.

This is very disappointing on how Cisco handles New Product Holds.  If the customer we were working with was, Microsoft or Lockheed Martin, and involved a million dollar project I think the results would be different.

Cisco claimed they are making strong efforts to attract the SMB and Small Business markets more.  This is one way, the only not to go about to do this.  Cisco needs to seriously change there process and policies for how they handle these type of issues.  And providing more information back to customer for what is going on should always be consideration Cisco needs to provide.

So keep those considerations in mind and be careful because you mind not be lucky as we were!