Cisco Server Promises To Extend UC Between Enterprises

Cisco Systems is debuting a communications server at VoiceCon that it says will extend unified communications features outside enterprise boundaries.

The Intercompany Media Engine (IME), which Cisco announced late last year and is making ready for its unveiling later this month, is designed to connect the UC systems in individual enterprise networks to enable cross-network collaboration as well as SIP-based voice and video, offering significant opportunity to resellers and service providers as more enterprise companies embrace unified communications.

The idea is to lower the cost of delivering voice and video by taking them off the PSTN and moving them to a SIP network, while enabling users to enjoy UC both inside and outside their enterprise boundaries, according to Cisco.

“Cisco IME calls use standard SIP protocol with header extensions for spam protection, demonstrating Cisco’s commitment to SIP as a standard for establishment of multimedia sessions,” said Wade Hamblin, senior product manager at Cisco, in a video introduction of the technology.

The first time a call is made between enterprises using IME, the server collects information and “remembers” the call. It then automatically routes subsequent calls between the two parties over the proper IP network the next time they’re made and determines which UC features each user can employ.

In order for the IME to work, both enterprises must have a Cisco UC infrastructure. While IME is designed to integrate with third-party call control systems, Hamblin said, for the best user experience, the IME should be connected with Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager 8.0. In addition, the server should also be connected with Cisco’s Adaptive Security Appliance 5500 series, which provides perimeter security, he said.

Using IME, administrators can encrypt calls as well as implement policy controls on individuals and user groups such as which callers can use video services.

“Cisco IME delivers a full user experience between partners while working with existing numbers and phones,” Hamblin said. “We don’t expect you to change your phone models or alter dialing behaviors; you can dial your business partners as you always have, except this technology will allow greater collaboration with higher quality voice and desktop video.”

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