Cisco Unified on voice, video and data

Cisco Systems is taking a different branding and solutions approach to its newly named Cisco Unified Communications suite.

Thirty-five new products or updates will be part of the suite, which replaces AVVAD IP Communications. The new products will be based on Cisco Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA). They include: Call Manager, Cisco Unity, MeetingPlace and Cisco IP Contact Center. New to the suite will be Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, Cisco Unified Presence Server and Customer Interaction Analyzer.

Richard McLeod, director Unified Communications solutions worldwide channels for Cisco, believes this announcement will change everything in the market place.“Unified Communications systems will enable Cisco to deliver rich media desktop applications and change the way people communicate,” he said

McLeod also stated that the company is moving from a technology approach to a solutions approach with the release of these new products. “This is more than packets on a voice network. It is about changing how it works to drive top line and bottom line impacts on companies.”

The new announcements will have an appliance-oriented model, McLeod added. “We will shelter the OS. It is a turn it on and use the GUI to guide you. Within 30 minutes to an hour you have a dial tone. From a partner perspective, this saves hours off every deployment and upgrade,” he said.

In the past, a partner could have easily spent six hours deploying Call Manager Unity and MeetingPlace, he said.

The products will also support third party products such as Microsoft Live Communications Server, Nokia dual mode phones, RIM Blackberry devices and IBM/Lotus Sametime.

Cisco is reshaping its pricing methodology with Unified Communications. The company is offering ala carte and per user pricing. It is also offering per seed or per license pricing enabling customers who are buying more to achieve bigger discounts. This also helps partners price these products faster and be able to attach consulting and professional services on to them, McLeod said.

He added that with this new pricing structure partners will be able to cut about two hours off of every sales quote because of the new GUI-based pricing tools. And, through the VIP program, partners can achieve 22 per cent margins on the high end with the Unified Communications suite.

“We now have solutions that partners can take to VPs of engineering to get their teams around the world to collaborate on product design and bring products to market faster. Instead of feeds and speeds,” McLeod said.

All these new products will be tuned to Cisco intelligence on the network strategy. The platform will operate Cisco Unified Presence Server, which is at the heart of this suite, and it will be able to locate and process across all devices and all businesses on the network.

“Instant messenger works well for PC environments, but not on a telephone. If you are on the phone or in a meeting and not on the buddy list or on a mobile phone, soft phone on the laptop (Unified Communications) can take all that information across devices across the network,” he said.

“A lot has happened since the late 90s and the movement to upgrade around Y2K and communications. It was just about necessary (back then) and not a business tool. It was also limited communication. Now communications is dramatic with voice, CE, video, email, instant messenger, phone PDAs, wireless phones and IP phones and people are saying ‘hey we have six to eight different tools to communicate’ and the tools are running us instead of the us running the tools,” McLeod said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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