Cisco Releases Focus on ROI

Rolls out 12 IP telephony products; Dow Chemical to be biggest customer.

Cisco Systems Inc. last week launched 12 IP telephony products, touting their capacity to improve an enterprises return on investment. The software and hardware upgrades use a converged voice, video and data network to lower the cost of network ownership and maintenance.

In general, Cisco champions IP telephony as a way to reduce equipment costs as well as a way to save on annual network administration and training costs. The San Jose, Calif., vendor also maintains that the IP-based products help increase employee productivity, increase knowledge sharing and enhance customer service. Cisco remains its own largest customer for IP phones today, but in the next six months, The Dow Chemical Co. will become the largest customer, according to Craig Cotton, product manager for enterprise voice products at Cisco. In the past six months, Cisco has shipped more than 500,000 IP phones.

Robert Bussabarger, network engineer for the city of Bend, Ore., installed more than 150 IP phones for the citys fire, police and waste water departments one year ago. When he recently transferred the public works department to the IP-based system, the city saved approximately $8,000. Additionally, the system saves network managers time. "It used to take a day to move a phone, and now it takes 10 minutes," Bussabarger said. "The system is really starting to pay for itself now."

Among the software products released last week is Cisco Emergency Responder, which eliminates the need for IT managers to manually update the location of telephones as they are moved within a campus. The software is used with the 911 support applications built into Ciscos CallManager product, which includes a real-time, automated, location-tracking database and enhanced routing of emergency calls to a safety dispatch center. The location of a caller can be identified within 100 meters.

"Within minutes after you move a phone, the database gets updated," Cotton said. "Frankly, since Sept. 11, we get a lot more questions about emergency response."

Other new software includes Cisco Conference Connection, Cisco CallManager 3.2, Media Gateway Control Protocol support for 2600 and 3600 routers, Cisco Internet Service Node 1.0 and Cisco IPCC (IP Contact Center) Bundle. IPCC Bundle offers preconfigured contact routing and queuing for small to midsize contact centers, help desks, and informal call centers, allowing enterprises to implement contact center services in less than a week.

"I can now take a small contact center in this bundle, and I no longer have to have all agents in the same physical site," Cotton said. "I can take my agents and put them in their homes or in smaller contact centers."

Among the new infrastructure products is the IP Phone Expansion Module 7914, which enables Ciscos IP phone 7960 to provide an additional 14 lines on its display and speed dial features. The 7914 is targeted for use by administrative assistants.

Other new hardware includes the Cisco VG248 Analog Phone Gateway, Cisco Catalyst 4200 with SNA and IPX, Survivable/Standby Remote Site Telephony for the 7200 router, High Density Analog Voice/Fax Network Modules, and the Voice-30 Advanced Integration Modules.

One feature that Bussabarger said hed like to see included in future Cisco IP telephony launches is a trunk analysis tool that collects network traffic patterns, similar to trunk analyses built into typical legacy systems.