IP Communications for Small Offices Using Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express

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Overview

IP Communications for Small Offices Using

Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express

Cisco® CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express provides small and

medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with a cost-effective, all-in-one solution for extending IP communications to small offices, branch offices, and remote workers.

Background

Small and medium-sized companies across all industries are increasingly operating at least one remote business site. According to Reed Electronics Group’s networking quarterly In-Stat MDR, 60 percent of the workforce in the United States operates from a remote location or branch office. For these organizations, remote employees are frequently the primary point of contact for customers. However, too often these workers do not have the same information and communication resources their counterparts employ at the main office. As a result, the workers who shoulder much of an organization’s frontline business are often the least productive and

least-connected employees in the company. Although many small businesses have extended data services to their branch offices, voice services at these locations are often still extremely basic. Many small offices are not equipped with simple auto-attendant features or basic voice mail. Unlike workers at the main office, remote employees must spend a significant portion of each workday searching for phone numbers, taking and receiving handwritten messages, and exchanging unanswered messages with customers and colleagues. The result is lost productivity and poor customer service.

At a time when most businesses are trying to generate more value from existing staff members and resources, these productivity losses can present a significant financial drain. Unfortunately, the cost of extending modern, full-service telephony features to small or remote locations has until recently been out of reach for many companies. Now, a new generation of IP-enabled small-office solutions are available to these organizations. Cisco® access routers can now deliver the telephony and productivity features that remote workers need, in a form factor specifically designed for small businesses and branch offices. Supporting data, voice, video, security, and remote connectivity within a single, integrated router, these solutions offer a cost-effective platform for extending consistent, manageable network services to small-office and branch-office workers. One of the many features of the Cisco access routers is IP-enabled voice services, through Cisco CallManager Express for call processing and Cisco Unity Express for voice-mail services. Through this solution, even small companies can now realize the benefits of IP communications: streamlined voice system management, lower total cost of network ownership, and dramatically improved productivity of the remote workforce and their branch offices.

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Challenge

Today’s SMBs frequently extend centralized data services to remote offices but operate separate, non-integrated voice systems. As many organizations have found, operating two distinct networks can cause many problems, including: • Inadequate phone features-The small-scale public branch exchange (PBX) or key telephone system (KTS) voice

networks that companies often maintain at remote offices provide few, if any, of the features of a modern, full-service business phone system. Many remote employees don’t have access to basic productivity-enhancing features such as voice mail or an online employee directory and still rely on manual systems and handwritten notes to manage phone calls.

• Expensive, difficult phone system maintenance-Many organizations work with a patchwork of local service providers and PBX or KTS vendors to manage remote-office voice services, making even simple adds, moves, or changes to the phone system expensive and time-consuming. If a problem arises, companies often must contact as many as three different vendors to identify and resolve it.

• Inconsistent voice systems-Companies frequently maintain different voice solutions at different remote sites. Administrators must be trained on all systems, and any employee traveling to another office must learn a new phone system and its features. This inconsistency of equipment and vendors also means that it takes longer to bring new offices online and impedes rapid growth.

• Lack of scalability-Many small-office PBX/KTS phone systems can support only a certain number of phones. Adding more users requires a significant additional hardware investment, stifling a company’s ability to expand easily. Relying on a circuit-switched PBX/KTS phone system also limits a company’s ability to integrate productivity-enhancing voice and data applications today or in the future.

Solution

A branch-office IP communications system can offer SMBs an ideal alternative. By delivering voice and data services over a single IP network, companies can equip remote workers with state-of-the-art productivity tools while simultaneously reducing network costs and complexity.

The Cisco access router provides a versatile, cost-effective platform for supporting voice, data, and other critical services in a single integrated access router designed specifically for small businesses and branch offices. As the IP communications component of the solution, Cisco CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express provides superior voice and data services for locations with fewer than 100 employees. CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express allows small companies to give branch office workers the phone system features they need-such basic voice mail, intercom, and auto-attendant functions-without requiring the business to pay for large-enterprise features that are not required.

The components of the Cisco Systems® IP Communications solution for small offices include:

• Cisco access routing platform-Phone-control services are delivered on the Cisco 1760 or the Cisco 2600XM or 3700 series access router (Figure 1). These intelligent Cisco routers incorporate advanced quality-of-service (QoS) technology to prioritize voice and data traffic, manage bandwidth across the network, and ensure superior voice

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Figure 1

Cisco 2600XM Series Access Router

• Cisco IP Phones-A wide range of Cisco IP Phones and features are available (Figure 2). Simple, non-display, single-line phones, such as the Cisco IP Phone 7905G, provide basic business functions for everyday use. Full-featured Cisco IP Phones, such as the Cisco IP Phone 7960G, can support multiple phone lines, attendant features and have large Extensible Markup Language (XML) displays, making them easy for anyone to use. The Cisco IP Phone 7920G even provides a wireless option.

Most Cisco IP Phones also support XML applications, allowing users to access businesses information-such as employee directories, new product promotions, or daily mortgage rates-and these services can be extended to reach even those workers who don’t have PCs.

Figure 2

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• Telephone network connectivity-Companies must deploy trunk circuits to connect the Cisco access router to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Cisco CallManager Express supports all common digital and analog trunk protocols, including Foreign Exchange Office (FXO) with loop or ground start, direct inward dialing (DID), Foreign Exchange Station (FXS), T1, E1, Basic Rate Interface (BRI), and Primary Rate Interface (PRI).

• Voice mail-Cisco Unity Express is the preferred voice-mail component for Cisco CallManager Express. It integrates easily with the solution and provides basic auto-attendant features and local voice-mail support for as many as 100 mailboxes with 100 hours of message storage. Companies simply add a Cisco Unity Express network module to the Cisco 2691 or the Cisco 2600XM or Cisco 3700 series access router, which creates a complete small-office or branch-office voice solution with all message storage and connectivity managed in a single integrated platform (Figure 3). Businesses looking for unified messaging (voice, fax, and e-mail in a single inbox) can also choose Cisco Unity on a separate Cisco Media Convergence Server (MCS).

• Integrated voice and data applications-Once the basic network architecture is in place, businesses can add converged voice and data applications that further enhance productivity features for branch-office workers. One of the most common applications is the ability to display database information on Cisco IP Phones using the XML protocol. Some examples include the ability to offer a time-card application, on-screen sales tracking, or ability to display company policies and procedures.

Figure 3

Cisco CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express at Small Office

A small-office IP communications system such as Cisco CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express can help make remote workers more productive and responsive while reducing overall network costs. The advantages of IP communications include:

• Improved productivity-Voice-mail, intercom, and auto-attendant features can save remote employees hours each week. According to a 2002 Sage Research survey of 100 companies using IP communications solutions, 48 percent reported improved productivity of branch-office employees within six months of deployment.

IP IP IP

Management GUI

PSTN Interconnection: Analog or Digital

Trunks

Internet/WAN Data Connectivity Cisco Access Router with

Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express

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• Lower total cost of network ownership-By consolidating voice and data services onto a single IP network and an all-in-one Cisco access router, companies can simplify the network architecture, reduce back-office

administration, and manage both voice and data networks with a smaller staff. Maintaining the solution is also easy. IT employees can use the Web graphical user interfaces (GUIs) or Cisco IOS Software command-line interfaces (CLIs) they already use for data services to deploy and manage the telephony solution.

• Complete investment protection-Using Cisco CallManager Express, companies can upgrade to a centralized Cisco CallManager solution in the future and continue to use all existing IP and analog phones, PSTN gateways, data switches, and Cisco IOS Software licenses. With Cisco CallManager centralized call processing, each branch office’s access router becomes a high-availability gateway, ensuring that branch-office phone service continues even during a network outage. In addition, when companies upgrade to a centralized Cisco Unity messaging system, the user interface remains the same, and no retraining is required.

• Rapid expansion-With an all-in-one-box solution, companies can standardize branch-office voice and data deployments and get new offices up and running more rapidly. Cisco CallManager Express also offers scripting options to allow businesses to manage multiple sites simultaneously and rapidly install new implementations. • Industry-leading support-If problems arise with the voice system, companies benefit from the award-winning Cisco support services. In addition, instead of going through multiple local vendors to resolve issues, companies operating a converged voice and data solution need only contact one provider.

Next Steps

Companies adopting an IP communications solution like Cisco CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express can transform remote employees into a more productive, better-connected workforce while simultaneously reducing network complexity and administrative costs. Only Cisco offers an intelligent, all-in-one-box solution designed specifically for small and remote offices. For best results, companies should work with a Cisco certified partner with the experience and expertise to effectively design and deploy IP communications systems.

As the worldwide leader in voice over IP (VoIP) for corporate networks, Cisco has a long history of success with converged voice and data solutions. Cisco serves more than 10,000 IP communications customers worldwide using more than 2 million Cisco IP Phones and more than 12 million Cisco VoIP gateway ports. Cisco CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express is just one of many Cisco IP communications solutions Cisco offers to support a wide range of companies, industries, and business needs.

For More Information

To contact a Cisco certified partner and find out more about how Cisco CallManager Express can help your business, visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/partners/Partners_and_Resellers_Partner_Locator_Tool_Tool_Launch.html For more information about Cisco IP Phones, visit:

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