Enjoying Cisco’s Magic Umbrella

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With legions of communications platforms and devices used by employees nowadays, it’s not easy for a company to assemble a proper and optimal integrated communications system.

But there is one option available: provide an “umbrella”. Cisco Systems, the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, has unveiled such an “umbrella”: Cisco Unified Communications.

Based on Cisco’s Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA), which was introduced in December last year, the Cisco Unified Communications system is an open and extensible platform for real-time communications based on presence, mobility and the intelligent information network.

The system provides structure and intelligence to help customers integrate communications more closely with business processes, ensuring that information reaches recipients quickly, through the most appropriate medium.

There are four main principles and activities behind the umbrella technology:

Access: You can get calls, calendars, data and e-mail anywhere on your network. So youneed to change or migrate your existing network for this purpose.

Mobility: Forward calls to your chosen devices. Youneed to miss your partner’s or client’s calls delivered to your office phone, because this technology will forward them to your handset fast and seamlessly.

Collaboration: Share all types of media with voice, Web or video-conferencing participants. You can enjoy your favorite type of gadget while still participating in your company’s teleconferencing wherever you are any particular time.

Customer Service: Integrate with applications to maximize call center performance and customer satisfaction because customerswait.

The system uses the IT data network as the service delivery platform, helping workers to reach the right resource the first time by delivering presence and preference information to an organization’s employees.

But just as importantly, “Cisco is fully embracing the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard on their desktop phones,” says analyst Tom Keating.

SIP is a protocol developed by IETF MMUSIC Working Group and proposes a standard for initiating, modifying and terminating an interactive user session that involves multimedia elements such as video, voice, instant messaging, online games and virtual reality.Cisco Unified Communications system is the first true second-generation Internet Protocol Communications system providing not just telephone services, but rather a rich communications environment that integrates voice, video and data collaboration in one system,” said Charles Giancarlo, chief development officer of Cisco Systems.

Managing director Cisco Systems Indonesia Irfan Setiaputra says that VoIP, IP telephony, rich-media conferencing and intelligent networks come together to provide significant cost savings and productivity benefits.

“All we need is, how to migrate these technologies into the Unified Communications – it’s the basic idea of this solution,” Irfan said.

According to him, Cisco provides a rich portfolio of voice, video and IP communications solutions designed to facilitate efficient and effective interaction, while providing the foundation for a collaborative workforce.

To make Unified Communications work, customers need IP Telephony, Unified Communications Applications, Customer Contact, Voice Applications, Voice Network Management and Communications Infrastructure in their company’s IT environment.

New to the Cisco Unified Communications are Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, Cisco Unified Presence Server and Customer Interaction Analyzer.

“Nowadays, current customers will be able to upgrade their existing systems and platforms to take advantage of the new capabilities,” he added.

Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, for instance, simplifies the way workers share information by helping them to communicate in real time. Its user-friendly GUI (Graphical User Interface) makes it easy to move through multiple communications applications.

The Cisco Unified Presence Server collects information about a user’s status, such as whether or not they are using a device such as a telephone, personal computer or video terminal at any particular time.

Customer Interaction Analyzer is also being introduced to maximize effective communications with customers, a new approach to analytics in the contact center.

Cisco Unified CallManager 5.0 and Cisco Unified CallManager Express 3.4 and Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) 3.4 effectively open up the system to an emerging standards-based developer community while retaining the current security and resiliency features.

“No matter if employees are using their cell phones or accessing e-mail in notebooks, this system will automatically recognize them and forward messages or calls to them in a real-time basis,” said Irfan.

In short, this is the sort of “magic umbrella” you need to unify all communications devices into one-stop and real-time solutions.

Budi Putra

The Jakarta Post, 31 Juli 2006

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