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.
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,
- always available (Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms).
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.