Cisco Announces New IP Communications Solutions for Small and Branch Office Locations
October 2, 2003
Cisco Systems today announced the release of the Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express, which provide smaller businesses and branch offices accessible and cost-effective tools for deploying IP telephony communications in their offices. CallManager Express and Unity Express offer a far more productive and lower-cost alternative to traditional circuit-switched, private branch exchange (PBX) office phone systems. The new products are supported by the Cisco Full Service Branch (FSB) customer portal - also announced today - which provides a rich set of tools to help branch and small offices easily and effectively deploy secure voice, video and data services.
News@Cisco recently spoke with Mike Volpi, the senior vice president and general manager of therouting technology group at Cisco, about these new products and Cisco's support for smaller businesses and branch offices.
What exactly are Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express?
Mike Volpi: Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express deliver IP Communications to business locations with less than 100 users. Both products run off several of our Cisco routers. CallManager Express is a software upgrade, which allows companies to use their data networks to run an IP-based office phone system, often called a "PBX." Cisco Unity Express is a hardware card that plugs into Cisco routers and runs voice mail and other phone call management functions typical of any office phone system.
What is the importance of these products? How will they help Cisco's business customers?
Mike Volpi: Together, Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express offer smaller businesses and branch offices turn-key products for deploying IP Communications. The two products are based on our widely successful CallManager and Unity products for larger enterprises. CallManager Express and Unity Express, however, are part of a suite of software that makes it easier and more cost-effective for deploying an IP-based office phone system at smaller business locations that often don't have the support personnel-or budget-of larger enterprises.
Small businesses and branch offices benefit from all of the advancements and innovations Cisco has achieved with the enterprise versions of CallManager and Unity. These businesses also benefit from the wide-range of networking tools throughout Cisco's portfolio of products. We like to think of it as "cross-pollination," where the advancements in our products get carried over to other products. In this case, customers benefit from all of the research and development that Cisco has already invested in our enterprise-grade IP telephony technologies, as well as our routers and other networking elements, such as security, wireless, IP video and voice communications, and Web acceleration services.
There are many different offerings for smaller office phone systems. What makes Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express more beneficial to businesses than other options?
Mike Volpi: The benefits of Cisco's office phone system products stem from our pure IP-based networking infrastructure. Unlike most call systems on the market, companies do not need to buy and manage a separate infrastructure to run their intra-office voice traffic. Instead, all calls travel on the existing data network infrastructure, which virtually all businesses now use for running their corporate software applications, accessing the web, and delivering email.
Running calls over an IP-based data network provides two basic, but tremendous, advantages. First, it lowers costs since companies don't have to invest in a secondary infrastructure. Also, and more importantly, companies can use a wealth of productivity-boosting applications not possible on traditional circuit-switched PBX phone systems. Because voice and data run over the same infrastructure, companies can use Web technologies, such as XML to deliver text and graphics-based information over their phone system, including inventory updates, email, employee profiles, or travel planning.
Tell me about the solution blueprints being released today by Cisco?
Mike Volpi: Today, we are also announcing 10 Cisco Full Service Branch (FSB) Solutions, as a result of a Cisco-wide effort to assist large and small enterprises and their service providers in building new value into their IP networks.
Cisco's FSB Solutions comprise a fully-integrated, worldwide effort, and the FSB Web resource center provides our customers with a rich set of best practices guidelines, business and technical deployment tools, and adaptable, how-to blueprints that help them drive these benefits to the growing number of employees who work outside of company headquarters, in various-sized branch locations or even in teleworkers' home offices.
A central objective of FSB Solutions is to help customers realize the economies and business advantages of a highly secure and reliable WAN that delivers not only traditional client server data, but also voice, video and accelerated intranet applications.
How do CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express provide a company with investment protection?
Mike Volpi: When you buy a Cisco router, it's like an insurance policy. We call our products "routers," but that's really a misnomer. They are full-service business communications platforms because they do much more than just move data around. Cisco IP Communications is all about supporting all forms of communications-voice, data, video, graphics, etc.-on one unified infrastructure, the business network. So the insurance is in the architecture of our products.
The router is the cornerstone to the IP communications network and from that point companies can add on other communications capabilities as their needs require. While a company may just need basic office phone service today, it can use the same infrastructure later on to provide video conferencing or inventory updates, for example. Companies don't just buy a router from Cisco to perform one job, but many jobs. We design our routers to support whatever communications a company needs. This way, businesses only need to make incremental investments to add new communications capabilities rather than investing in an entirely new infrastructure.
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