VoiceCon: Cisco Promotes Intercompany Unified Communications
As VoiceCon 2010 wraps up, we’re taking a look at some key themes from Cisco Systems. This year, Cisco unveiled some interesting new technology regarding “intercompany unified communications.” And it’s not just chit chat and e-mails; Cisco is doing video too. Here’s some perspective on the new technology — which is timely info, even if you’re not in the unified communications business (yet).
You might wonder how you do “intercompany unified communications” — it’s actually pretty easy. You use the Internet. But there’s — as you’d imagine — a lot involved in that. The backbone of the whole project is the Cisco Intercompany Media Engine. As proof of concept, Cisco called Australia, and the University of Wisconsin during their presentation. Utilizing the Cisco IME, all the participants could actually speak spontaneously, at the same time, without delay from video compression. Calls that come through are connected using a worldwide secure peer-to-peer network via Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking. The video enabled devices (computer, webphone, etc…) all were activated into the call based on “standard phone numbers.” There’s no real details on how that works, exactly, but it’s most likely based on Cisco’s new initiative.
The entire IME project is based on “proposed standards that Cisco has submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force.” So, somewhere inside that jumble of UC hardware, IME software potentially has the ability to leverage currently deployed infrastructure.
Anyway, if you haven’t guessed it, the Cisco IME has been built with collaboration in mind, and designed to help business with “external communities.” Video tends to be an integral part of that, since face to face time is a popular way of collaborating — and Cisco TelePresence shows that.
But there’s more than voice and messaging goodies inside the IME. There’s advanced unified communications features. One such feature is a “self-learning” technology, which CNNMoney described …
…learns new routes based on calling patterns and automatically recognizes when users are operating in an IME-equipped network. It discovers and manages all aspects of facilitating highly secure, high-quality, low-cost call routing via IP networks including the Internet making the experience easy to use for both users and administrators alike.
That definition, for all its words, is pretty vague. Let me try to explain it this way: This blogger believes IME handles the VoIP call and figures out which networking routes provide the least amount of traffic noise and the most amount of security and quality for the call. And since we’re talking security, Cisco made it known that you can throttle and keep tabs on the IME traffic. All media through it is encrypted, and Admins can use “granular policy-based control” to dial in exactly what features are available to specific users.
No doubt, big tech companies are betting heavily on unified communications. Microsoft predicting that in just 3 years UC is the way all companies will work. Cisco just wants to make sure the conversation occurs over IME.