Collaboration Solutions

5 Posts authored by: robarnold4

I'm still trying to get into the fine detail of the new and enhanced products announced as Cisco Collaboration several weeks ago.

While Cisco analyst relations points me to video data sheets on the Cisco site, I'm looking for more depth than that - more detail on speed and feeds, and comprehensive lists of what work has been done. I'm told that as these new and enhanced products are rolled out over the next few quarters the appropriate documentation will be made available.


The tough part for me in doing my job as an analyst is being patient rather than pushing too hard for material that probably isn't in shape for presentation as of yet. However, it will be incumbent upon Cisco to deliver on all of the things unveiled at the Collaboration Summit and to do this within the general timeframes initially provided.


At this point I do know this: Cisco Unified Communications Manager remains the lynchpin of the company's UC thrust (note that I'm using the term "UC" seperate from "collaboration").

But while UCM 8.0 is the anchor, the 8.0 software rev did not receive as much promotion during the Summit as did brand new solutions (Show and Share, Enterprise Collaboration Platform, MXE, IME, WebEx Mail, UCM Session Management Edition, etc) and very impressive updates to existing products (Telepresence, Contact Center, Presence, Personal Communicator, Mobile Communicator, etc). A number of these do not rely on UCM (for connectivity, session control, etc), however many of them do. As a result, and though maybe not as sexy as some of the other R&D accomplishments on display from Cisco, UCM 8.0 deserves and needs its time in the spotlight.

Day one of the Cisco Collaboration Consultant and Analyst Summit 2009 was arrival day, and was anchored by the kickoff keynote.


We learned from John Chambers how Cisco's own use of collaboration tools has allowed the company to transform its processes to speed innovation.


The company has leveraged collaboration tools to identify and launch 30 projects that it will simultaneously pursue as emerging growth areas. Mr Chambers noted that just a couple of years ago the company was capable of simultaneously pursuing only two such opportunities with the same headcount and resources it is using today.


John Bates, SVP and GM of Enterprise Commercial and Small Business, outlined the 5 tenets by which Cisco has conjured up and pursued development of the more that 60 new and enhanced products announced this week.


In summary these 5 tenets are:

1) The New Collaboration Experience

2) Collaborate with Confidence Across Companies

3) Accelerate Team Performance

4) maximize Value of Investments


These new and upgraded tools aim to help drive collaboration and foster closer working relationships amongst people that are increasingly working across disparate time zones and locations. Examples of  new and enhanced products aimed at facilitating this include the new Cisco Unified 8900 & 9900 IP phone series (made with eco friendly materials and techniques, and delivering HD video and XML apps support, USB port, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity) and Cisco TelePresence WebEx Engage (delivering unified scheduling and calendars, and other features to offer tighter integration between the two apps while improving ease of use). Cisco Unified Presence 8.0, Cisco Unified Personal Comunicator 8.0 and WebEx Connect 6.0 -all with XMPP support for IM/presence federation to improve reachability ad availability across groups on different systems. TelePresence Intercompany Directory, Any to Any TelePresence HD interoperability, WebEx Mail, Secure Intercompany Media Engine - all further strive to bring more cohesiveness to working with colleagues at other companies.


Though not a comprehensive list, many of these new and enhanced products are the same ones that Cisco used to drive its own business transformation and innovations. The on-stage demonstrations were slick and impressive.


Overall Day 1 was a good show, and Cisco proved its merits for development and use of the solutions that it introduced.  


UC System 8.0 Unleashed

Posted by robarnold4 Nov 9, 2009

UC System 8.0 is in fact more of a portfolio than a single system.


And with Cisco again touching on many points of its portfolio with 8.0, similar to last year's 7.0 introduction, the company has also delivered on highly anticipated integrations, including PostPath and Jabber assets, as well as virtualization with UCS.


I'm excited to dig into all the nuances of UC System 8:



-Intercompany Media Engine

-Unifed Presence 8.0

-Unified IP Phones 9900 & 8900 Series

-Unified Client Services Framework

-Unified Mobile Communicator for Blackberry & iPhone

-Personal Communicator 8.0

-UCM Session Management Editon

-UCM Large Enterprise System

-Customer Voice Portal

-UCM virtualization

I missed my regularly scheduled blog a week or so ago, with too many excuses to list them here.

The blog I had pre-written will be superceded by things more on top of mind for me this week, foremost of which is the reminder that integration of products and services is not always better.


I've always been wary of integrated hardware products (such as a TV with VCR integrated as a single unit)  because losing use of one component severely degrades the value of the overall solution. However, I usually take a different stance when it comes to integration of software components. For example, the benefits of a rich multimedia conference are clear.


My realization though, through this week's personal experience, is that there are still very strong arguments for keeping communications services accessible as standalone applications. This week an Internet service disruption rudely reminded me of the adage advising not to put all of one's eggs in the same basket.


The network issue with my unnamed SP left me without stable high speed Internet via DSL, and therefore no reliable email, IM, presence, voice (via IP phone) or video.

The urgency of this problem climaxed on Tuesday, after Monday's torrential rains on top of an already saturated Atlanta landscape flooded roads and limited my mobility. I had three conference calls to attend on Tuesday, which of course was the day that my SP scheduled a tech to come troubleshoot the DSL issues at my SoHo.

The first conference was a webcast with no streaming audio but seperate dial-in. With the SP tech running tests on my POTS line, I was fortunate enough to attend the audio portion via mobile phone, flying blind without the presentation which was emailed to me afterwards. Trying to outwit my technology issues I braved the streets and headed to a nearby offsite location with available broadband. Once there, and with ear buds plugged into to my laptop, I quickly realized that I had the opposite issues as call number one. This time I had access to the web presentation, but with no streaming audio or audio of any kind because there was no land line and no cellular reception. I returned to my SoHo for call number three, which used a presentation that I had saved to my hard drive. Still no DSL, but my POTS line was back up and I was able to join.


It was a humbling reminder that integration and convergence sometimes multiply problems. Often enough, simple is better and business continuity is not dependent on convergence.         

Most of us techies use social networking tools. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. From the very beginning each of these were developed with a specific networking context in mind. LinkedIn is a professional networking application, a tool that allows users to maintain contact with colleagues, customers and partners. Twitter was originally created so that individuals could broadcast short messages about their activities to friends. Facebook and MySpace were designed as purely social tools, as entertainment, but also as means to keep up on the personal happenings of friends and family.


But the use cases for each of these applications have expanded. The lines between what were professional and personal networking tools have blurred. The onus is now on users to draw their own lines. At question is where that line should be, or whether the line should exist at all. Do I want to expose personal friends to my professional self? Do I want colleagues and clients to have the same level of information about my personal tastes, thoughts and activities as I provide to personal friends?


Mind you, I have plenty of colleagues at my firm, at competing firms, within client organizations, and within non-clients that are friends. These are all people that I truly enjoy spending time and speaking with. But these are friends from a different context than those that I know from my personal life. While we may talk about some of the same things there is a personal space that is respected with work friends.


Social networking tools have plenty of privacy protections in place. You can block followers on Twitter. Connection invites on LinkedIn can be ignored. Access to MySpace and Facebook content can be restricted. However, actually using these privacy features can hurt feelings and can create distance in relationships both personal and professional. With regard to professional relationships the easiest way to resolve this issue is actually to become less sensitive by respecting preferences, the lines people draw, and not read too much into them.

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