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Cisco call recording, silent monitoring and whisper coaching over MRA

Work from home is the New Normal for workers around the world. Cisco IP phones are gathering dust in the half-empty offices. Cisco Jabber deployed on remote devices (home PC, personal mobiles etc) and registered with CUCM over MRA (Mobile and Remote Access) through Cisco Expressway - this is how the typical Cisco voice infra looks like these days.

But what about call recording and agent coaching features (silent monitoring and whispering)? In this article we'll let you know the software versions you need to get this working, various limitations of these features in the MRA mode and some best practices.

If you're going to support remote workers with your on-premise Cisco Collaboration platform OR you're planning a call recording deployment for your MRA/Expressway configuration, the following might be useful.

First, the good news is that everything is supported assuming that your UCM/Expressway/Jabber versions are up to date.

The minimum configuration you need for the Built-in Bridge (or "Active";) call recording over MRA is:
- Cisco Jabber 11.9 (for Windows, for Mac, for Adroid or for iPhone/iPad)
- Cisco UCM Enterprise 11.5 (1) SU3
- Cisco Expressway X8.11.1

This min configuration has several major limitations:
a) with UCM 11.5 a mobile Jabber is not CTI-controlled which doesn't allow CUCM call recording software to determine the direction (incoming/outgoing) of a call though it can be recorded.
b) Recording only works for direct person-to-person calls and not for conferences.
c) Recording is not currently supported for Silent Monitoring and Whisper Coaching features.

Though you can record Cisco Jabber calls and access call recordings within Cisco Jabber.

In Cisco Collaboration Systems Release 12.0 the mobile Jabber became a CTI-cotrolled endpoint and the limitaion "a" from the point 2 was lifted.

Now, as Cisco Expressway is the crucial component of the MRA deployment all the limitations depend on its version. And with every new version of Cisco Expressway things are getting better. Lets take a look.

1 Cisco Expressway X12.5
Still there are major limitations for recording over MRA:
- recording does NOT work for conferences
- Silent Monitoring and Whisper Coaching are NOT supported at all
- in the case of call recording for Cisco Jabber endpoints, Jabber does not support injecting recording tones into the media streams.

2 Cisco Expressway X12.6
- starting from X12.6.1 Silent Monitoring is supported
- Whisper Coaching and Whisper Announcements are supported from X12.6.2.
The recording tones do not work for Jabber clients.

3 Cisco Expressway X12.7
No improvements to call recording, monitoring and whispering over MRA.

4 Cisco Expressway X14.0
MRA supports recording tones for Cisco Jabber clients and Webex Unified CM registered applications.

So, now you know exactly what call recording features are supported with your Mobile and Remote Access deployment.

Active Call Recording Configuration for Cisco UCM (CUCM)

In this article we’re going to tell you about active call recording configuration for Cisco UCM (CUCM). In a few words, active recording is a more comfortable, flexible, scalable and efficient call recording tool for Cisco devices (with BiB support). “Comparing to what?” you may ask. The answer will be: comparing to passive recording. Passive recording is performed by the means of traffic mirroring (using SPAN/RSPAN/ERSPAN).

It works like this: the recorder server collects a call’s metadata through API (in CUCM, JTAPI is a part of CTI), and RTP stream comes from a phone through BiB (Built-In Bridge) directly.

Active recording is supported by such vendors as Nice, ZOOM, Verint, STC (Speech Technology Center) and others. Let us turn now to configuration.

Configuring CUCM Application User

Log in to IP PBX interface. Proceed to User Management → Application User.

Click Add New. The following form appears:

  • Fill in the User ID
  • Enter the user’s password in the Password field. Enter the same password in “Confirm Password”.

Select available devices to be added to Controlled Devices.

Click Add to User Group to add roles.

This application user should be able to control users in order to record their phones. Assign the following roles:

  • Standard CTI Allow Park Monitoring
  • Standard CTI Allow Call Recording Standard CTI Allow Control of Phones supporting Connected Xfer and conf
  • Standard CTI Allow Control of Phones supporting Rollover Mode
  • Standard CTI Enabled

Click Add Selected.

Click Save. The Application User configuration is over. Now let’s configure a SIP trunk.

Configuring a SIP trunk

Proceed to Device → Trunk.

Then click Add New.

Set the Trunk Type = SIP trunk, Device Protocol = SIP.

Enter the Device Name for the trunk, enter its Description, select a Device Pool (a set of common parameters), set SIP Trunk Security Profile to Non Secure SIP Trunk Profile, set the SIP Profile to Standard SIP Profile.

Now, you should configure a Route Pattern (a route to the trunk).

Configuring CUCM Route Pattern

Enter a number that is not occupied in the dial plan. E.g. 1111. In the Gateway/Route List, select the trunk you have created.

Recording Profile

Proceed to Device → Device Setting → Recording Profile. Click Add New.

  • Enter the name of the profile;
  • Enter the number you have used for the Route Pattern configuration (in our case, that’s 1111).

Now you only have to configure recording for a phone line (turning on BiB), assign a Recording Profile to the phone, turn on Allow Control of Device from CTI option and set the Recording Option to Automatic Call Recording Enabled.