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Cisco Unified Collaboration Solutions Infrastructure Overview

Sep. 25, 2015
Berni Gardiner


The Cisco Unified Collaboration solutions offer anytime, anywhere access for organizations who need instant access to clients, vendors and remote employees. Cisco products enable authorized external users to connect to corporate resources, create different user groups and manage large scale deployments. Learn how Cisco Unified Collaboration infrastructure products can help you provide everything from call control which provides signaling and dial plan support to the expressway series providing firewall traversal for external access.


Today's business requirements are focused both inside the business, for employee productivity enhancements, as well as outside the business to enhance relationships with partners, suppliers, customers, and other external organizations.

In many cases the focus is on saving time and money while providing the same face-to-face experience that promotes building strong relationships, fosters the freedom to be innovative, and provides the collaborative environment to quickly share and discuss ideas and business solutions.

Communication methods in use today vary greatly from those of years past. Employees are becoming more mobile, working from home offices and continuing to be productive even when they are on the road. Instant access to customers, partners, and suppliers paves the way for improved cost efficiency and quicker response to trends and business needs.

Today's corporate networks must have the flexibility to provide a robust suite of services to both internal and external clients, while maintaining security and ensuring a highly available environment.

This paper will provide an overview of the infrastructure and application components that allow Cisco Unified Collaboration Solutions to provide that anytime, anywhere, face-to-face experience.

The following services and applications will be discussed:
-Call control
-Voice messaging
-Instant messaging and presence
-Collaborative conferencing
-Collaboration Edge
-TelePresence Management Suite

Call Control

The core component of the unified collaboration system is the call control functionality. Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CM) fulfils this role in the collaboration environment.

Cisco Unified CM supports the following:
-Endpoint registration
-Call processing
-Endpoint feature administration
-Dial plan administration
-Directory services
-External application APIs
-Disaster Recovery system
-Resource management
-Signaling and device control

Unified CM provides call setup and teardown, determines call routing via the dial plan, provides control for gateways, and manages access to resources such as conferencing, transcoding, and media termination points.

Unified CM allows configuration of endpoint features such as call park, call forward, call pickup, conferencing, music on hold, and many other features.

Redundancy is achieved through clustering. A cluster will contain one Unified CM Publisher and multiple subscribers with up to a total of twenty servers in a single cluster. The publisher provides access to the only fully writable database for configuration entry and replicates the database to all other servers.

Clustering also provides scalability as each server can support up to 10,000 endpoints with up to a total of 40,000 endpoints per cluster.

For smaller deployments, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express (CME) or Business Edition 6000 can be used. IOS routers can be used to provide remote site backup call control using the Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) feature.

Voice Messaging

Cisco has two main products that support voice messaging. Unity Connection runs on a Linux-based server and can support up to 20,000 users per two-server cluster. Clusters can be networked together to support up to 100,000 users.

For centralized deployments where Unity Connection is at a data center or headquarters while supporting mailboxes for remote site phones, Survivable Remote Site Voicemail (SRSV) can be implemented to provide voicemail redundancy.

For smaller deployments, Unity Express can be deployed on a branch router and provide local mailbox access and control.

Both voicemail products contain a default auto attendant and allow for the configuration of multiple additional attendants if required.

Instant Messaging (IM) and Presence

As the name suggests, this service allows users to exchange chat messages with each other or with a group of users as a group chat. But the IM and Presence service is so much more than that.

In the past we would call meetings at the office or walk over to a colleague's cubicle to have a face-to-face conversation. We could quickly assess whether this colleague was on their phone or available to talk to us. But as businesses downsize their real estate and more employees become teleworkers, the traditional "poke your head over the cubicle wall" approach is no longer viable. However, to be productive we still must be able to communicate as efficiently as possible. This is where IM and Presence fills the gap.

Instead of being on a floor of offices where we can physically see our co-workers, we now have a contact list that shows us what their current status is. We can choose to contact them now or later, if they are showing as on their phone or unavailable.

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