The best first step to learning a new technology is to take a class on the particular subject. Global Knowledge’s new ACUCW1 and ACUCW2 classes (previously CMBA, ACCMU, or ACUCM+) are a good place to start on your understanding of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM).
However, if you don’t have any previous exposure to the product you’re taking a class on, the experience is sometimes analogous to taking a drink from a fire hydrant; there’s a lot of information coming at you. So, I recommend that new Cisco UC students set up a work (or home) lab environment to practice the labs on their own.
VMWare server or workstation is the most cost effective way to run CUCM in a lab environment (it can be downloaded for free online). Cisco Unity is the only Cisco UC product that is officially supported in VMWare at the time of this writing, but other Cisco UC products work fine in a lab environment.
I recommend a minimum of an Intel Duo Core processor on your laptop and a lot of DRAM. Each virtual machine normally requires at least 1 gigabyte of DRAM to run at an acceptable level. A laptop or desktop with 3GB or more of DRAM will allow you to run both Unity and CUCM on one machine.
You will need to create a virtual machine of CUCM from the CUCM installation disks if you do not have access to an existing virtual machine. I suggest asking your Cisco systems engineer (SE) or account manager (AM) for a working virtual machine image so you do not have to go through the challenges of finding the CUCM installation disks. Buying the Cisco NFR (not for resale) UC kit is another option that will provide you with demo copies of all Cisco UC products with demo licenses.
I recommend performing the lab guide 2 to 3 times after class to raise your proficiency level with the CUCM product. Most of the labs from the ACUCW1/ACUCW2 classes can be performed with two CIPC phones, two CUCM publisher servers (clusters) and at least 3 phones (CIPC or 7900 series phones).
Two phones would register with CUCM server1 and one phone would register with CUCM server2. The phone registered with CUCM server 2 would be configured with a dial plan that maps to the Global Knowledge outside phone. Server 1 and server 2 will need Non-Gatekeeper Controlled Inter-Cluster Trunks or SIP Trunks pointing to each other.
Cisco IP Communicator (CIPC) is a software-based phone that can be used on two laptop or desktop computers that will allow you to get your testing started very cheaply. Only one Unity or Unity Connection virtual machine is required to do the voicemail portion of the labs.
Author: Dennis Hartmann