Cisco Advances Business Edition 3000 with IM/Presence Services and Video Calling
Cisco adds new functionality to its Cisco Business Edition 3000, an all-in-one platform for mid-size businesses (to 300 users) that has a foundational (essential) feature set at a more affordable price. The new version 8.6.2 adds connection to presence/IM services, an attendant console capability with paging, video phones and SIP trunking support. Cisco also updates its virtualized platform, Business Edition 6000, with integrations for presence/IM services and a new 50-user bundle for smaller businesses. Read more below.
Cisco Business Edition 3000 is an all-in-one solution specifically designed for mid-sized businesses with 75-300 users (400 total devices) and up to 10 sites (nine remote sites) with centralized call processing. Cisco Unified Communications Manager software, Cisco Unity Connection for messaging and Cisco Unified Mobility are pre-installed on a single Cisco Media Convergence Server, the 7890 appliance.
Business Edition 3000 was first introduced in February 2011 to address mid-size business requirements at an affordable price. The system incorporates what Cisco refers to as “Foundational Unified Communications features” or essential capabilities required/desired by mid-size businesses, specifically typical call processing features and voicemail, as well as a single-number-reach (SNR) application that manages, routes, and connects calls between an IP desk phone and mobile cellular or home phone.
Business Edition 3000 has a simplified GUI wizard management interface that exposes only specific Unified Communications Manager, Unity Connection and Unified Mobility features for fast and easy installation and deployment. In other words, the GUI simplifies the installation and management process because a certain amount of enterprise applications have been converted to default parameters, so the set-up technician does not have to go through parameters and screens that do not apply to their particular architecture.
For example, the technician can set up the voicemail and auto attendant features from Unity Connection in Business Edition 3000, but not the more advanced features such as speech recognition or text-to-speech. Business Edition 3000 also has pre-installed dial plans, user locales, tones and localized administration that make international deployment easier.
Business Edition 3000 is one of three Cisco Business Edition platforms, but differs from the Business Editions 5000 and 6000 versions in that it includes only an essential feature set, has a simpler GUI wizard for administration and sells at a lower price point ($100 per user for a 100-user system). Cisco’s Business Edition 5000 and 6000 models are for customers that want more advanced collaboration features (for example, Business Edition 3000 does not support call center functionality).
Cisco Business Edition 6000 is deployed as an all-in-one system using VMware server virtualization technology; the 6000 handles 50-1,000 users (there is a new 50-user bundle) and combines Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Unity Connection, Unified Presence, Unified Contact Center Express and VMware ESXi on a single Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) C200 M2 Rack-mount server.
The latest version 8.6.2 of Cisco Business Edition 3000 addresses some of the key trends in business communications, including video and cloud-based services.
- Cloud-based IM/Presence. Instant Messaging (IM) and Presence functionality is available as a cloud-based service using either Cisco’s WebEx Connect or Cisco Jabber clients. Like Cisco WebEx Connect, Cisco Jabber can be directly connected to Cisco WebEx, but Cisco Jabber can also be used as a softphone connected directly to a Cisco Business Edition 3000 for example. While both have similar functionality, Cisco Jabber is available for other platforms, including Mac, Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia. A Jabber for Windows application will be available shortly, according to Cisco.
- Video Phones. Cisco Business Edition 3000 8.6.2 adds support for Cisco Unified IP Phones 8941 and 8945 with built-in video cameras and color displays for point-to-point, 2-way video calling. These models add to several phones already supported by Business Edition, including Cisco’s eco-friendly Unified IP Phone 6900 Series and the Cisco Unified SIP Phone 3905, an entry-level single-line phone for basic voice communications in common areas such as manufacturing floors or hallways or in cubicle, retail, or classroom settings. Cisco’s Unified IP Conference Station 7937G phone is available for meeting rooms, and analog endpoints can be connected via the Cisco VG224 voice gateway. Cisco plans to add support for its Unified Wireless IP Phone 7925 in the next release.
- Attendant Console. Business Edition 3000 supports the new Attendant Console Compact Edition PC-based application for incoming call handling and routing (no server required). Attendants can visually monitor other extensions and use a person-to-person internal paging feature (group paging will be added in the next release). The Cisco Unified IP Phone 8961 with an attached color Key Expansion Module can also be used as an attendant console.
- SIP Trunking. The system adds support for SIP trunking as a lower cost alternative to traditional PSTN lines; the Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE) is required since BE 3000 does not terminate SIP trunks directly. For trunking, BE 3000 also has two T1/E1 ports built-in and supports analog trunks via Cisco’s SPA8800.
- International Support. New country-specific dial plans simplify and speed system deployment for the U.S., Canada, China, India, Russia and Australia with additional dial plans coming for the UK, France, Spain and Italy in first quarter 2012.
General Availability: Cisco Business Edition 3000 8.6.2 is available as of November 2011; pricing starts at $100 per user for a 100-user system. The next release 8.6.3 is due out in mid-December and will add more features, including multiple call pickup, dial by name, direct transfer to voicemail, group paging, support for Cisco’s WiFi phone (7925) and additional country support (France, Italy, Spain and the UK).
Sandra M. Gustavsen, business VoIP analyst, contributes her Business VoIP column to unified communications. To read more of Sandra's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell