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Cisco and Microsoft take radically different approaches to unified communications
Conferencing: Cisco Unified MeetingPlace. A multimedia conferencing system that integrates voice, video, and Web conferencing to bring "face-to-face quality" to remote meetings. The system is deployed on-network, behind the firewall and integrated into an organization's private voice and data networks and enterprise applications.
Messaging: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. The messaging server is integrated with presence information and includes voice-activated features such as calling into the server and using voice commands to change calendar entries.
Which approach is best for your network?That's a complex decision. You'll need to factor in your current network configuration, you unified communications strategy and your future vendor roadmap.
Devices: Microsoft Roundtable, Handsets and IP Phone. Microsoft offers the 360 degree video camera for video conferencing while partners offer an array of traditional looking handsets and USB-based phones.
Devices: Cisco TelePresence, IP Phones, supported devices. Cisco offers the TelePresence virtual meeting system in personal and conference room configurations. It offers a suite of increasingly sophisticated IP phones, and partners with Polycom, RIM, Symbian, Nokia, Apple and Microsoft, among others, to enable a range of fixed and mobile interfaces into the UC environment.
Voice/presence: Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. The hub of the Microsoft infrastructure it provides voice switching/routing and some call control capabilities, IM/presence, and video conferencing. The server also is deployed in specific roles, such as a Mediation Server (SIP, Audio translation) or Edge Server (NAT transversal).
Messaging: Cisco Unity. Cisco's voice and unified messaging platform. It interoperates with Microsoft Exchange or IBM Lotus Domino to enable access to e-mail, voice, and fax messages from a single in-box on any device. Includes access from a phone, e-mail client, web client, smart phone or other mobile device.
Client software: Microsoft Office Communicator. Client software used for IM and video and as a soft phone, including call control features (shown left). The Web-based version is a carbon copy for look and feel, but does not support voice and video.
Security: Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services. Another service that plugs into the UC platform. It is comprised of four services: virus/malware protection and message filtering, archiving, backup and encryption.
Voice/presence: Cisco Unified Communications Manager. The heart of Cisco's UC environment, it provides the call processing component. UCM is designed to deliver voice, video, mobility, and presence services to IP phones, media processing devices, VoIP gateways, mobile devices, and multimedia applications, combining these resources into a "workspace" for up to 60,000 users.
Conferencing: Microsoft Office Live Meeting. The service from Microsoft can be integrated into any UC deployment. The Live Meeting conferencing engine is embedded in OCS for those who want a local deployment. A view via Microsoft Roundtable, a 360 degree video camera is shown at the bottom of the photo.
Cisco's approach is network and hardware based. Microsoft's mantra is "software, software, software."
Security: Cisco Secure Unified Communications. A section on Cisco's Web site that provides an overview of hardware products (Integrated Services Routers, ASA 5500 security appliances), software applications (IOS Firewall Session Initiation Protocol) and best practice guidelines for securing and protecting an enterprise-wide UC infrastructure.
Client software: Cisco Unified Personal Communicator. A desktop client application that provides access to voice, video, instant messaging, Web conferencing, voice mail, and presence information from a multimedia interface on a PC or Mac.