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Cisco takes a big SIP

On Wednesday, Cisco CEO John Chambers takes the FOSE stage. Officials tell us he’ll be talking a lot about secure mobile communications, among other things. Last fall the company rolled out what it calls its IP Interoperability and Collaboration Systems technology for integrating radio, cellular and IP phones.

But first Chambers stops in Florida at the VoiceCon tradeshow where tomorrow he’s making a whole other product introduction.

It’s one of those big, multi-part Cisco announcements that seem to permeate a slew of the company’s products. But in a nutshell, the company is now baking Session Initiation Protocol into all its IP telephony products.

In fact, according to a pre-briefing we had last week, Cisco doesn’t acknowledge IP telephony as a standalone application anymore (although it acknowledges that VOIP may be the only one agencies focus on at first). The fact is, an IP-based dial tone it just one collaboration application. Therefore Cisco is rebranding a bunch of its products under a Unified Communications System umbrella.

Remember Cisco CallManager? It’s now Cisco Unified CallManager 5.0. The name isn’t as important as the fact that it has SIP baked in, so there's no more need for a proxy to manage SIP devices. And that’s good news.

What else is in the announcement? There’s a brand-new Cisco Unified Presence Server coming out that will aggregate information from SIP devices and those using SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE). No, you won’t yet be able to see when absolutely everyone is online, on the phone, etc. But for instance, through SIP you’ll be able to publish presence information from SIMPLE-compatible BlackBerry devices.

Buried in Cisco’s rollout is news that dual-mode smart phones (those that communicate over WiFi and cellular networks) are in the works. Brent Byrnes, Cisco’s regional manager for advanced technology in the federal market, told GCN the support is already in the Unified Communications System. We’re just waiting for actual phones from companies such as Motorola and Nokia. Byrnes thought we’d see some in the September timeframe.

There’s lots to digest in the Cisco announcement, but there was one little tidbit worth noting that wasn't in the general news release. Byrnes said Cisco has been getting requests from users who want an easier way to run CallManager, which requires a Windows Server. In response, the company is coming out with a Linux-based appliance.

The existing CallManager-on-Windows bundle has already received the seal of approval from the Defense Department’s Joint Interoperability Test Command. Byrnes said Cisco will put the new appliance through the same testing.

Posted by Brad Grimes

Posted by Joab Jackson on Mar 06, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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