Cisco Launches Call Manager 4.0

Release has new video App, security features.

Cisco Systems Inc. has launched its latest Call Manager platform, along with a new desktop video conferencing application integrated with Cisco IP phones.

Call Manager 4.0, Ciscos mainstay VOIP (voice-over-IP) communications software, includes a new optional application and a USB (Universal Serial Bus) video camera, together dubbed the Cisco Video Telephony Advantage, which can create person-to-person video phone calls.

Cisco VT Advantage works with Cisco IP phones to easily create such calls, and those video calls can be transferred, muted, forwarded, put into a conference or put on hold.

The camera works with Microsoft Corp.s Windows 2000 or Windows XP and is plugged into a PCs USB port.

"The computer is plugged into the back of one of our phones," said Rick Moran, vice president and general manager for IP Communications at Cisco, in San Jose, Calif. "You get an icon on your screen that shows the camera. From then on, if you contact someone with video, it appears." Users can turn off the video. VT Advantage is also integrated with Ciscos call-bridging technology for multipoint conferencing, said Moran. VT Advantage works with personal and conference room video systems from Tandberg ASA, which enhanced its offerings to work with Call Manager 4.0.

"Video over IP is not bleeding-edge anymore," said Call Manager 4.0 beta tester Jesse King, network manager at The Granite Group Wholesalers LLC, based in Concord, N.H. "I hope to implement [VT Advantage] for all our sites. Its very affordable [at $190]. Well implement it for branch managers for meetings."

Beyond the video capabilities, Cisco added new security functions to Call Manager 4.0, along with new end points and enhancements to Cisco MeetingPlace Web conferencing. Call Manager 4.0 now includes strong encryption with the incorporation of Advanced Encryption Standard 128-bit encryption. Cisco will also begin including digital certificates within its IP phones.

Cisco will begin bundling its host-based intrusion protection and authentication system, Cisco Security Agent, with Call Manager as well as its Unity and IP Contact Center Express offerings for free.

Call Manager 4.0 is available now.