Cisco: Just Like Any Other Office Communications Server ISV?

I’m always excited to hear about third party applications written to the Office Communications Server developer interfaces, and Cisco’s UC Integration™ for Microsoft Office Communicator (CUCIMOC) is no different:  each and every application testifies to the momentum of our unified communications products with end customers and to the openness and flexibility of our platform.   Our platform interfaces make it easy for developers to integrate communications within applications, and are getting even better.   Have you ever said that about your legacy IP PBX?

Many ISVs have already taken advantage of these platform interfaces, as highlighted in our Partner Showcase. Great examples include Schlumberger, who integrated UC functions within Petrel, their reservoir modeling software, PostCTI, who uses OCS federation to provide  web-based call recording, and Aspect, who added IM and presence to their contact center solutions.  I expect to hear about more and more applications as the Developer Community continues to grow.

What about Cisco and CUCIMOC?  In some respects, Cisco is like the other ISVs who develop applications on our platform: they used our published APIs to develop an add-on application and can leverage our developer support options as necessary.   Cisco developed CUCIMOC independently, not jointly with Microsoft as some customers have been led to believe, and is solely responsible for its support at end customers.  Have a problem with Adobe Acrobat?  Call Adobe.  Have a problem with CUCIMOC?  Call Cisco.

CUCIMOC is unlike most other ISV applications in that its goal is to replace many built-in features of Office Communicator rather than to enhance or extend them.   We believe that the native functionality in Office Communicator provides a much better and more complete user experience than CUCIMOC, and that SIP-based server interconnection, as documented in this joint statement, is a less complex and more cost-effective integration technique than adding additional software to every desktop as recommended by Cisco.   For anyone considering CUCIMOC or any other substitutive application, we suggest the following:

·         Make sure you know what you’re buying.  If an application is presented as an alternative to the OCS Enterprise CAL, make sure it includes everything in the Enterprise CAL – not just click to call and a soft phone, but also desktop sharing and multi-party audio, video, and web conferencing.  If it doesn’t, make sure you know how much more you have to pay and how many more desktop applications you have to deploy to close the gaps.

·         Assess the user experience.  Add-on applications present their own interfaces, which users must learn and then adopt.  Is the add-on intuitive and easy to use?  Will users have seamless communications across IM, video, voice, and collaboration?  Or will transitions be disjointed or even impossible?   Can users take advantage of a full set of communications capabilities away from their offices?

·         Determine the cost of deploying and supporting the add-on, including other desktop software implications.  Is integration on user desktops less or more complex than SIP-based server integration qualified and supported as per Microsoft’s Open Interoperability Program?  Does the vendor software work with the rest of your desktop environment?  For example, if Windows 7 migration is important to you, does the vendor roadmap for support, such as Cisco's, match your deployment timeline?

If you’re still unsure after the assessment, do a side-by-side comparison:  run a pilot with some people on CUCIMOC and some on Microsoft enterprise voice, and compare the user experience, the capabilities, and the cost of ownership for yourself.  If you believe that communication and collaboration is about more than an IP-phone and click to call, then you’ll see that Office Communication Server offers a better and richer user experience at lower complexity and cost.

And if you ultimately choose not to deploy our enterprise voice? There are many paths to adopting unified communications, and we want you to be successful with our products regardless of which path you take and how much of our stack you deploy today.  If it makes sense for you to continue using your existing Cisco phones, with or without CUCIMOC, that’s okay:   you can still take advantage of the tremendous productivity and cost savings benefits of Microsoft Unified Communications by integrating Exchange Unified Messaging and OCS audio, video, and web conferencing with all of your existing phone systems, Cisco included.

We’re committed to providing your users with a great UC experience working with the infrastructure you choose.

BJ Haberkorn
OCS Senior Product Manager

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