Aurus Blog

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

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CUCM 12.5 and CUBE - media forking to multiple recorders simultaneously

For years call recording software vendors all over the world utilized network-based recording to record CUCM phone calls. The “network-based” approach is also known as “active recording” or “SPAN-less recording” and is actually based on media-forking feature supported by the most of Cisco IP phones and also Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE).

The media forking approach is loved by all call recording vendors:

  • it is easy to configure – you just enable it in CUCM without the need to create a SPAN port on each router,
  • it provides more context about the call,
  • it provides high-availability – you can configure several receivers in CUCM and when the primary recorder is down CUCM automatically switches to the alternative.

But still, till now Cisco IP phones and CUBE only forked media to one destination. This is finally changed in Cisco CSR 12.5!

Cisco Collaboration Systems Release 12.5 (Callisto) supports media forking to multiple destinations.

Media forking to multiple recorders is a new CUBE feature supported by IOS XE 16.10.1 or later. What’s the idea?

The new CUBE feature is called “media-proxy” and allows CUBE to receive media forked by Cisco IP phones (equipped with built-in bridge) or voice gateway and stream the received media to several destinations simultaneously in real-time. You can configure up to 5 destinations which will receive the forked media.

This provides:

  • more options and flexibility to high-availability deployments – you can now record calls by 2 recorders simultaneously (will be supported in the next release of PhoneUP Call Recording),
  • the ability to use several applications processing media in real time – for example, two different call recording systems AND real-time speech analytics software.

The requirements are:

  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager 12.5
  • Cisco IOS XE 16.10.1 available on:
    • Cisco 4000 Series-Integrated Services Routers (ISR G3 - ISR4331, ISR4351, ISR4431, ISR4451)
    • Cisco Aggregated Services Routers (ASR - ASR1001-X, ASR1002-X, ASR1004 with RP2, ASR1006 with RP2)
    • Cisco Cloud Services Routers (CSR1000V series)

What is also important:

  • CUBE media-proxy does not support colocation with CUBE,
  • video recording is NOT supported also.

How to Record CUCM (CallManager) Calls

CUCM call recording is one of the most popular topics in the world of Cisco Unified Communications. For companies that deployed Cisco Unified Communications Manager there are several approaches to phone call recording offered by a dozen of Cisco Solution Partners.

Which one to choose and why? Let’s consider briefly.

Call Recording Methods

  • SPAN-based recording (“passive recording”) – is one of the oldest methods of CUCM voice recording. This type of recording software connects to the SPAN (Switched Port Analyzer) port to monitor all network (or VLAN only) traffic and pick out the VoIP packets to store them as audio files.
  • Built-in Bridge recording (“BIB recording”) – is the approach that uses the conference bridge embedded in almost each Cisco IP phone (and Cisco Jabber for Windows as well). With the proper CUCM configuration a Cisco IP phone forks the phone call audio streams to the CUCM recording software that mixes these streams and saves to the audio file.

In the beginning of 2011 Cisco introduced its own recording platform Cisco MediaSense. This solution records audio streams forked by Cisco IP Phones (BIB-recording) or (this is important!) Cisco ISR routers.

Why is it important? Along with Cisco MediaSense Cisco released the new IOS ( Cisco ISR router firmware) that supports the media forking capability. Supplied with this feature, the Cisco gateway can fork the media of conversations to the recording server.

Which leads us to the 3rd method:

  • CUBE recording – the same as BIB-recording, but the media is forked by Cisco CUBE (the software that runs on Cisco ISR router). If Cisco MediaSense can receive and store forked audio streams, why 3rd party recorders cannot?

So, what method to use and which solution to choose for Cisco CallManager recording?

Choosing the Call Recording Approach

Improve the MediaSense user experience with free PhoneUP promo-license which includes MediaSense Gateway module for unlimited number of seats.

Use BIB recording for all endpoints with built-In bridge on board. Without doubts this is the most reliable approach which also provides the more detailed info about a call.

Use CUBE recording for recording the other media (3rd party SIP devices, analogue phones connected with the voice gateway, CTI-ports, etc.) if your Cisco router supports media forking.

Use SPAN in all other cases, for example – when you don’t have a forking CUBE or you need to record internal calls of endpoints without BIB (the voice traffic is not going through the Cisco gateway).

Choosing the Recording Server

If you have to use the SPAN-recording method you are forced to choose a CUCM recording 3rd party solution.

If IP phone built-in bridges and CUBE can fork everything you need to record, then Cisco MediaSense looks like quite a tempting choice. But from the users’ perspective it only provides a very simple “Search and Play” web-interface - a password-protected web page with call recordings list and basic search capabilities. It is enough for small installations, but most of deployments need a 3rd party call recording solution that integrates with Cisco MediaSense and provides the more convenient user interface with additional features like access rights management, advanced search capabilities and so on.

Some of call recording software vendors added the Cisco MediaSense connector to their solutions. This allows using a 3rd party call recording app to manage Cisco MediaSense recordings and provide users with the rich-featured interface.

Call Recording Topic on CCIE Collaboration Exam v2.0

Cisco teaches how to record CUCM calls even without having its own call recording solution. Why?

That's interesting. As we're all aware Cisco MediaSense reached its EOL in 2017 with no replacement available from Cisco. All the call recording solutions on the market are developed by 3rd party Cisco Solution Partners. But take a look at CCIE Collab exam topics for 2018 - https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/community/...

The 6.7 section is all about designing and implementing call recording architecture, including SIP recording, built-in bridge and network-based approaches etc etc.

Why? Any suggestions?

How to Extend CUCM (CallManager) Features

Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CallManager) is the leading IP PBX in the worldwide market. Only certified professionals can deal with its rich functionality. Nevertheless, dozens of software vendors develop products that empower CUCM (Cisco Unified Communications Manager) functionality with new features.

Aurus, the official Cisco Solution Partner, invites you to learn what new features the Aurus PhoneUP product brings to Cisco IP PBX (Cisco Unified Communications Manager or Cisco BE 6000/7000).

Enterprise Phone Directory for Cisco CallManager

The "Directory" module of the PhoneUP application bundle provides the enterprise phone directory service for employees, and is an alternative to built-in CUCM phone directory. The main differences between the "Directory" module and the out-of-the-box Cisco CallManager directory are:

CUCM"Directory" module
Number of directoriesOneUnlimited number with access control for groups of employees
Integration with external systemsADAD, LDAP, IBM Lotus Notes, CSV, XML, CUCM, SQL database
External contacts supportNoYes
Caller IDInternal numbers onlyAny phone number
Incoming call detailsName / Last Name / CompanyFlexible data that may contain an employee photo
Notification of missed calls via e-mailOnly with UnityYes
DTMF support NoYes
Personal directoriesOne (edited manually or imported from Outlook)Unlimited number of directories synchronized with external sources
Auto-redial featureNoYes


The "Directory" module is integrated with Cisco Jabber. Using the standard contact search field of Cisco Jabber not only you can find an employee, but also search for client, partner and any other contact imported from external datasource. Also, when you get a call from the contact (client for example) stored in the directory Cisco Jabber will show the client's name, status and any other information from the CRM system.

Phone Call Recording (CUCM)

Cisco offers its own solution, Cisco MediaSense for call recording that captures and stores audio, forked by Cisco IP phone bridge or CUBE (Cisco Unified Border Element). But MediaSense is a recording platform that only provides basic features to manage call recordings. Cisco officially recommends using 3rd party solutions developed by technology partners that provide additional functionality.

For example, the "Record" module of PhoneUP can be integrated with Cisco Mediasense to bring you extra-features not implemented in Mediasense:

  • flexible management of user access to call recordings;
  • rich search and filter tools;
  • call recording rules (for example, recording only external calls);
  • IP phone user interface to search and play the call recording;
  • playing the recording into the current phone call;
  • and much more.

Attendant Console

Cisco actively promotes Cisco Jabber, the enterprise collaboration tool. At the same time, some business units need a wider range of call control features including specific ones, for example:

  • top manager assistants need to monitor chief's phone lines and intercept calls during his absence;
  • reception staff and contact center need a visual control of the call queues not to miss client calls or VIP calls that should not be left unanswered;
  • top managers need an intuitive, time-saving interface allowing to perform basic call control actions with easy to use UI supporting drag-n-drop.

In these cases you should pay attention to the "Console" module.

Group paging via Cisco IP phones

Features of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) and Cisco IP-phones, as well as API Cisco provides its technology partners, allow to use the IP telephony network for text and audio notifications to employee groups.

Cisco's collaboration product line doesn't include such a solution, and clients need to turn to 3rd party vendors. The "Paging" module of PhoneUP bundle supports both text and audio paging to Cisco IP phones as well as live broadcasting through speakerphones.

Features that improve the security of IP telephony network built on Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)

Cisco CallManager (CUCM) provides users with the Meet-Me conferencing feature – each conference has its phone number that needs to be dialed to join the meeting. But the "built-in" Meet-Me conferences do not provide the necessary security. Anyone who knows the number of conference room can dial it and join. To avoid this you can use the "Conference" module that works on top of CUCM conferencing feature and protects meetings with PIN.

The "Lock" module is used to lock Cisco IP phone while its owner is away to prevent abuses and frauds. In some ways this is similar to the "Extension Mobility" feature implemented in Cisco Unified Communications Manager, but is designed to improve the security. Unlike Extension Mobility a phone locked with PhoneUP:

  • stays registered to CUCM;
  • can receive incoming calls;
  • is allowed to make outgoing calls to a limited set of directions;
  • denies the access to the personal address book, call history, call recording, etc .;
  • gets locked and unlocked automatically when you log in/out the PC.

XML-services for Cisco IP phones

Cisco Systems provides technology partners with rich capabilities for development of custom XML-applications for Cisco IP phones - with which users can interact via the IP phone keypad and display. The "Inform" and "Hotel" modules of the PhoneUP bundle may be considered as examples of such applications.