Takeaway: At the recent annual Cisco (News - Alert) Partner Summit, Cisco announced two new platforms designed specifically for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), the Unified Communications 300 Series (2-24 users) and Cisco Unified Communications (News - Alert) Manager Business Edition 3000 (75-300 users across 10 sites). Both new solutions are all-in-one designs with what Cisco calls “foundational unified communications features” or an essential feature set that is required/desired by most SMBs, as well as simplified management and an affordable price (UC320W is $995 for the hardware, software and 24 user licenses; BE3000 due out 2Q2011 starts at about $100 per user, phone included). Read more below and visit www.telecomtactics.com for more on IP PBX systems from Cisco and other business communications manufacturers.
Cisco adds two new platforms to its Small Business voice portfolio, namely the Unified Communications 300 Series (available now) and Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000 (due out 2Q2011). Both solutions are all-in-one units with a small space requirement that promise to reduce complexity with easy deployment and management and which sell at a price attractive to small or mid-size businesses.
In conjunction, the new Cisco Partner Advisor initiative for Cisco Select and Registered small business and mid-market partners improves sales support. New Cisco global centers are located in Raleigh, N.C. and Lisbon, Portugal (additional centers are planned for Europe, Asia Pacific and Canada) where channel partners can get immediate assistance by phone or the Internet using a click-to-chat capability. Cisco is also extending the Cisco WebEx Meeting Center product to its partners to sell to smaller businesses.
Unified Communications 300 Series
The Unified Communications 300 Series (UC300) is part of Cisco’s “Foundational Unified Communications (UC)” offering which provides basic or foundational UC features for small businesses, typically voice, data and wireless integration, plus some basic integrated messaging applications. UC300 is positioned for businesses that require more basic UC features at an affordable price. Cisco’s earlier Unified Communications 500 Series (UC500) also for smaller businesses belongs to the Advanced UC offering which has a more advanced feature set, including video, enhanced security and mobility.
The UC320W is the first hardware platform in the UC300 Series. UC320W is an IP-based communications system that supports 2-24 users at single site and enables traditional telephony (can be configured in a Key or PBX mode), but also has integrated voicemail and automated attendant with voicemail to e-mail notification, one built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless access point, a 4-port Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps) switch and a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port. UC320W supports SIP trunking, as well as Cisco gateways for connection to 12 public switched telephone network (PSTN) lines (FXO), including up to nine analog phones.
Cisco SPA 300 and SPA 500 Series IP phones are available for UC300. The Cisco SPA 300 Series has two entry-level IP phones: the basic non-display 1-line SPA 301 and the 3-line SPA 303 with some more advanced features. Five SPA 500 Series phones introduced in 2009 are also available, including the SPA525G2 with color display and wired or wireless connectivity. All Cisco SPA Series phones have dual protocol support, utilizing Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP) with the Cisco UC300 Series and third-party call controllers or using Cisco’s Smart Phone Control Protocol (SPCP) with the Cisco UC500 Series.
Availability/Compatibility: Cisco UC320W is available now and lists for $995, including the hardware, software and licenses for 24 users, as well as a one-year hardware warranty and 90 days of software support which can be extended for three years with the Small Business Support Service. Financing is available from Cisco Capital in U.S., Canada and the UK, the main markets where UC300 is available to Cisco partners; other selected markets include Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, and additional countries will be added by summer 2011.
Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000
The Cisco Unified Communications Manager 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, the Cisco Unity Connection messaging solution (12 ports) and Cisco Unified Mobility are pre-installed on a single Cisco Media Convergence (News - Alert) Server, the 7890 appliance (V8.6). A limited availability release (V8.5) on the Cisco 7816-I5 MCS server required the Cisco 2901 ISR for T1/E1 support and ad-hoc/meet-me conferencing; however, the latest 7890 appliance eliminates the need for this extra hardware since it has two T1/E1 ports built-in and includes the ad-hoc and meet-me conferencing capabilities.
Business Edition 3000 differs from Cisco’s Business Edition 5000 and 6000 models in three ways. It has (1) an essential feature set, (2) simplified administration via a new GUI wizard and (3) a low price point. Cisco’s Business Edition 5000 and 6000 models are the offering for customers that want more complete collaboration features.
Business Edition 3000 supports what Cisco calls “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 new GUI wizard management interface, “a special build” of Unified Communications Manager, Unity Connection and Unified Mobility, which exposes only specific features for fast and easy installation and deployment. Cisco explains that a certain amount of the flexibility in the applications provided to large enterprises is hidden, or converted to a default parameter, 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 for ease of international deployments.
Customers can choose from several of Cisco’s eco-friendly IP or SIP phones, including Cisco Unified IP Phone (News - Alert) 6900 Series (6901, 6911, 6921, 6941, and 6961 models) and the new 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 also available for meeting rooms. Earlier Cisco 79xx, 89xx or 99xx Series IP phones are not yet supported, though the new 8941/45 models (see related story) with large color displays and a built-in video camera are on the roadmap for a future release. Analog endpoints can be connected via the Cisco VG224 voice gateway.
Availability/Compatibility: Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000 is expected to become available in the second quarter of 2011 for a list price of $12,400 for 100 users. The new Cisco Unified SIP Phone 3905 is supported on Cisco Unified Communications Manager Version 7.1(5) or later, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000 Version 8.6, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 5000 Version 8.5 or later, and the virtualized version, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 6000 Version 8.5 or later. www.cisco.com
Contact Sandra M. GustavsenSandra M. Gustavsen, business VoIP analyst, contributes her Business VoIP column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra�s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Analyst Business VoIP
Edited by Janice McDuffee