Cisco Systems has announced a unified communications solution consisting of a suite of voice, data, and video products and applications designed to improve interaction between users and integrate the communications system with the IT infrastructure. However, while the suite offers a number of important features, Cisco faces competition in this arena from a variety of big-name rivals.
Cisco has unveiled its new unified communications package.
Cisco’s Unified Communications system includes Cisco CallManager, Cisco Unity, Cisco MeetingPlace, and Cisco IP Contact Center. New to the suite are Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, Cisco Unified Presence Server, and Customer Interaction Analyzer.
Presence is now a key communication capability for the enterprise. The Unified Personal Communicator uses dynamic presence information so employees can search existing directories to locate contacts and simply ‘click to call’ using an appropriate communication channel. The Unified Presence Server aggregates presence information using session initiation protocol (SIP) and SIP for instant messaging and presence leveraging extensions (SIMPLE), and publishes the information to Cisco Unified IP phones, Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, third-party services, and applications such as IBM Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005.
Importantly, the solution is starting to bring together the separate communication silos, such as enterprise WiFi networks and the GSM public networks. Cisco is working with handset vendors, including Nokia, to make available dual-mode smartphone solutions, which allow devices to automatically utilize the best wireless technology for the context of the user. These multi-modal products will assist in providing a much more seamless user experience, enabling reduction in complexity and assisting organizations to proactively manage costs without impacting productivity or usability.
Cisco is not alone in offering a unified communications solution. Siemens’ LifeWorks concept has been developed to provide users with uniform and end-to-end communication across different devices and media and, in particular, to clear the barriers between private and public networks. Other vendors, such as Alcatel, Microsoft, and Nortel, also provide solutions in this area.
Many convergence strategies are launched primarily to reap the benefits of infrastructure consolidation, such as reductions in operational costs and potential improvements to service quality. However, the real value of convergence will arise from the opportunity to build upon the converged infrastructure as a foundation for business process transformation.
Solutions that integrate a range of communications formats and technologies will ensure point solutions can finally be joined up into a seamless user experience, which is particularly valuable in a collaborative context.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)