Interoperability Drives Cisco IP Telephony Upgrades

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2002-06-05 Print this article Print

Cisco rolls out a flurry of enhancements to its enterprise IP telephony products to provide more interoperability to legacy systems and to support the needs of smaller enterprises.

Cisco Systems Inc. on Tuesday rolled out a flurry of enhancements to its enterprise IP telephony products to provide more interoperability to legacy systems and to support the needs of smaller enterprises. Cisco added more interoperability to its Cisco Unity 3.1 unified messaging software by introducing the Cisco Unity Bridge 2.0 option. Officials said the option enables traditional voice mail systems to work from within Unity 3.1 so customers can perform functions such as marking a call as urgent or creating a distribution list to send messages to a large number of people. But the interoperability only goes so far. Cisco is only supporting Avaya Inc.s Octel system, said Hank Lambert, director of product marketing for enterprise voice and video. When asked if interoperability with other systems would be added, he said there was "nothing to talk about at this time."
Also on the interoperability front, Cisco launched a new version of its contact center server platform. Customer Response Solutions (CRS) 3.0 is replacing Customer Response Application 2.2, Lambert said. The new version adds skills-based routing into the Integrated Contact Distribution feature and supports as many as 75 agents, rather than 50. The new Interactive Voice Response (IVR) capabilities can support 150 ports rather than 100 and include text-to-speech and automatic speech recognition features. The IVR also will support the voice XML 1.0 standard, Lambert said.
Ciscos other move is to support smaller organizations with its IP communications offerings. The company introduced the entry-level Media Convergence Server (MCS) 7815-1000, which supports as many as 200 users. Other MCS offerings support as many as 500 and are targeted more at midsize businesses, officials said. Cisco also introduced two new packaged voice solutions aimed at small offices with up to 50 users. The packages combine the Cisco Integrated Communications System 7750 with its CallManager, Unity voice mail and Auto Attendant for automated call answering and forwarding. Finally, Cisco launched the 3.1 release of its IP SoftPhone and replaced its WebAttendant console for enterprise attendants and receptionists with the CallManager Attendant Console. All the enhancements are available now, except for CRS 3.0, which will be available in the third quarter of this year, the company said. Related story:
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    Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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