Aurus Blog

This blog is to share our expertise in Cisco UCM, UCCX/UCCE and Cisco Telepresence.

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All Possible Ways to Set Up PIN for CUCM Meet-Me Conference

  • "How to configure Meet-Me video conference with PIN?"
  • "We need to configure Meet-Me conference with PIN…"
  • "CUCM 10.x Meet-Me with Name announcement and Pin number…"

- try to search the Cisco Support Forum and you'll get dozens of similar tickets.

Yes, the built-in Meet-Me conferencing feature doesn't support PIN authentication, so here goes the list of all possible ways to set it up.

Before we start, let's agree that we only consider Cisco Unified Communications Manager Enterprise or Cisco BE 6000/7000. If you've got CUCM/CallManager Express (CME) you can play with TCL IVR scripts, but that’s definitely another story.

So you're enjoying Cisco UCM Meet-Me conferencing, but you want attendees to hear the voice prompt asking for a PIN needed to join the meeting. You’ve got 4 options:

1. Cisco Unity Express/Connection

If you have Cisco Unity deployed you can use it to achieve the Meet-Me authentication. The attendees call should be transferred via CUC and the User System Transfer Conversation should be used to authenticate the caller (a user is created on CUC). The conversation prompts the caller to sign in to CUC with his CUC ID and PIN and then transfers the call to Meet-Me conference number.

Looks like a kludge? Still it gets the job done.

2. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (UCCX)

You can use UCCX as an audio front end to Meet-Me conferences. You may find several UCCX scripts around the web which prompt the caller for meeting ID and password and then transfer the call to the MeetMe bridge. Meeting IDs and PINs are set up by UCCX admin.

This works, but since UCCX is used for something that it’s not initially designed for, this workaround isn’t as feature-rich as you users may require and hard to maintain.

3. The "Conference Now" feature of CUCM 11

The "Conference Now" feature is introduced in Cisco UCM v.11 released in the summer of 2015. It's not the replacement for Meet-Me feature, but allows users to create their personal conference rooms protected (optionally) by the access code. The attendee has to call your conference room number, enter the access code and listen to the music until you start the meeting by joining it.

Quite promising feature but the access code stays the same until you change it, so if I participated in your meeting once, I can use it to join the next time even if I wasn’t invited. Also, no scheduler and conference control tool are available.

4. The “Conference” module of “Aurus PhoneUP” suite

The CUCM Meet-Me conferencing solution from Aurus is designed specifically for CUCM conferencing and allows you to:

  • schedule Meet-Me conferences with a web-interface;
  • use the MS Outlook plugin to schedule the meetings from the Outlook calendar;
  • use the same phone number for meetings (the PIN entered is used to define which meeting you're joining);
  • protect meetings with a randomly generated PIN (the PIN is automatically added to the meeting invitation sent to invitees);
  • control the conference with the web-interface – the meeting host can see the list of participants, join a new attendee and disconnect anyone;
  • start the meeting from any phone - without the necessity to use a Cisco IP phone to initiate the meetme bridge;
  • control the resources of the conference bridge.

So, these are 4 options to secure your Meet-Me conferences. Which one works better for you, depends on your business requirements and Cisco products used. Hopefully, this article will help you to evaluate the pros and cons of each option in relation to your environment.

Cisco’s Conferencing Options Explained

With a wide range of conferencing products offered by Cisco it may be hard to figure out what are the options and what each of them is designed for. This post is going to help you to get a sense of what is happening in the Cisco’s conferencing world.

Audio Conferencing

Cisco UCM has several conferencing features on-board:

  • Ad-Hoc - to escalate the current phone call to audio-conference,
  • Meet-Me – for permanent conferences,
  • ConferenceNow (introduced in CUCM 11) – for personal conference rooms.

All of them are audio only and use either the software conference bridge (CUCM service) or hardware conferencing resources (most often – DSP modules in Cisco ISRs). Hardware DSP modules are required to enable the transcoding feature as the software bridge only supports G711.

Since CUCM is not a conferencing platform, these three options only provide basic conferencing features, but may be enhanced with 3rd party add-ons to CUCM. For example, Aurus PhoneUP operates on top of the CUCM conferencing engine providing extra functionality like:

  • meeting scheduler,
  • PIN and Caller ID security,
  • conference control tools.

But still only audio conferencing is available. If you meetings require web collaboration and/or video you have to deploy additional Cisco products.

Web-conferencing and Collaboration

Cisco’s web-conferencing portfolio is based on the Cisco WebEx platform that provides audio/video conferencing as well as web-collaboration tools – white board, presentations, application sharing, chat and so on.

You can join the WebEx meeting over IP (PC or mobile devices) as well as by dialing the call-in number from any phone.

The WebEx platform is available in cloud (Cisco WebEx Meeting Center) or on-premises (Cisco WebEx Meeting Server).

Similar to Cisco UCM conferencing options, WebEx meetings can be:

  • started instantly,
  • scheduled,
  • always available (Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms).

HD-Video Conferencing

Finally, for the best user experience Cisco offers Cisco TelePresence architecture, which provides high-quality HD video conferencing.

The core components of Cisco TelePresence offer are:

  • video-endpoints - desktop, room and immersive,
  • video-conferencing bridges - Cisco TelePresence Serverand obsolete Cisco TelePresence MCU,
  • Cisco Telepresence Conductor - orchestrates the allocation of conferencing resources,
  • Cisco TelePresence Management Suite (TMS) – manages the Cisco TelePresence infrastructure providing engineers with provisioning, meeting control, resource management and meeting scheduling features.

There are also several optional components available from both Cisco and its technology partners like:

  • Cisco TelePresence Recording Server – to record conferences,
  • Cisco Expressway – to allow users outside the firewall to join the meetings,
  • Aurus U-Meet – to improve the meeting scheduling and conference control.

CUCM On-Board Conferencing Options Overview and Restrictions

Cisco Unified Communications Manager has several native conferencing options. All of them are quite simple, “getting started” implementations. If you need more, you have to switch to one of full-featured conferencing platform described, for example, here, on Cisco’s website.

But in this post we’re going to review only on-board options shipped with CUCM.

Ad-Hoc Conference

Ad-hoc (also referred to as “instant”) conference is an impromptu conference that is not scheduled before. A point-to-point call may be escalated to an ad-hoc conference using Cisco IP phone, Cisco Jabber, or some 3rd party CTI application like attendant console.

The originator of the conference may add / remove participants, no other conference control features are available.

Meet-Me Conference

Meet-Me (also referred to as “permanent”) conferencing suggests that a range of directory numbers are allocated for exclusive use of the conference. The meet-me conference begins when the host connects. After that anyone who calls the conference number joins the conference.

Limitations:

  • the host must use a Cisco endpoint to start the conference,
  • no scheduling tool is available,
  • no authentication is available ,
  • no conference control options.

Conference Now Feature

The Conference Now feature is available on CUCM 11 and higher and is going to replace the Meet-Me option. It allows user to create their personal meeting rooms (with DN associated) protected with PIN. Anyone who calls the host’s meeting number is asked for the PIN to join the conference. The conference starts when the host joins the meeting, till that everyone receive MOH (Music On Hold) provided by basic IVR implemented in CUCM 11.

Limitations:

  • no scheduling tool,
  • the PIN is managed by host and is not generated automatically,
  • no participants list is available for the host,
  • no conference control options.

Conference Bridges

All CUCM conferencing options use the conference bridge configured in CUCM.

Software conference bridge

The CUCM software conference bridge is available out of the box and only supports G.711 codec (ALaw & ULaw). If there is a codec mismatch between the calling device and the software conference bridge, a transcoder is needed.

The software conference bridge can handle up to 128 audio streams (48 if the Cisco IP Voice Media Streaming Application service runs on the same server as the Cisco CallManager service) and supports max 100 conferences per CUCM server.

Hardware conference bridges

To obtain the transcoding feature and increase the capacity of conferencing resources you need to switch to hardware conference bridge.

For example, Cisco 1700, Cisco 2600, Cisco 2600XM, Cisco 2800, Cisco 3600, Cisco 3700, and Cisco 3800 series voice gateway routers (DSP modules are required) provide conferencing and transcoding capabilities for Cisco Unified Communications Manager.

How to Improve the Enterprise Security with Cisco UC Applications

Secured Meet-Me conferences

The Meet-Me conferencing functionality is provided by Cisco Unified Communications Manager in such a way that it's enough to dial-in to the conference to join it. Unless you deployed the latest CUCM v11 you can’t secure your Meet-Me conferences.

The "Conference" module is developed to close this gap protecting the Meet-Me conferences:

  • by PIN – you need to know the PIN to join the meeting;
  • or by Caller ID – your phone number must be included into the predefined group for you to join the meeting.

In addition the "Conference" module provides the meeting scheduler functionality (web-calendar or MS Outlook plugin) and conference control tool.

Locking Cisco IP phone

The "Lock" module restricts access to IP phone functions while his owner is away. The phone may be locked either manually or automatically when user's PC is locked or turned off. When locked, the IP phone:

  • denies the access to IP phone services (personal phone directory, information services, calls history and the list of missed calls, recorded calls archive and etc.);
  • allows only emergency calls to be made;
  • forwards all incoming calls to user's mobile.

To unlock the IP phone its owner must unlock the PC or enter the PIN using the IP phone keypad.

Extension Mobility automatic authentication

Mobile employees working in different locations use the Extension Mobility functionality for authentication on IP phones and loading their profile (phone number, settings, etc.). To authenticate the employee has to enter his User ID and PIN, which he should always remember.

A more convenient way is to use automatic authentication - when an employee logs in to PC his Extension Mobility profile is loaded automatically to the IP phone associated with this working place. When an employee leaves this location the current configuration of the device is replaced by the logout profile.

Special call control features

The "Forced Connection" feature enables top managers to get in touch with an employee even when the employee's phone is busy. When activated, the current call is put on hold and the employee gets connected to his manager.

"Monitor", "Whisper", and "Barge" features are useful, for example, in the commercial department:

  • the team supervisor can silently listen to agents' calls with customers or others to ensure the high quality of service or sales is delivered;
  • using the "Whisper" feature he is able to privately coach the agent without the customer hearing what he says;
  • when monitoring the call a supervisor may join it to switch the call to a conference, where all three parties can hear each other.