The most comprehensive IP communication solution on the market
August 13, 2019
The most comprehensive IP communication solution on the market
Score 10 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Call Manager)
Cisco Unified Communications Manager is possibly the most widely used IT infrastructure solution across our company by far. We started deploying it modestly, in 2004, for a small portion of our users in one department, and for some IT users. Since then, we started to increase the adoption, mostly when we had new departments or office layout changes, where it was easier and cheaper to deploy. At some port, we also started to deploy it in remote sites, across the globe. That movement allowed us to have a seamless phone experience and allowed our users to communicate across the globe. The US office could easily call HQ in Brazil without any cost per minute. That was a game-changer and allowed us to promote more with fast communication between offices. At some point, we decided to replace all the old TDM PBXs and that bunch of cables for the small and simple UCS servers. Besides the fact that it saved a lot of real estate in our datacenter also saved us time by letting us administer on a single console. Those were some of the business problems we solved during these past 15 years with Cisco.
- The solution is probably one of the most robust IT solutions we have today. Although it works 24/7, it never required a reset "just because it needs to free memory" for example. In our deployment, the servers never went down due to a bug or software/hardware problem. We only reboot when we need to update or install some software fix.
- Compared to other platforms on the market, Cisco Unified Communications Manager is the most complete and flexible one. You can manage not only Cisco endpoints but 3rd party too. Also, you can run on bare metal appliances or even in virtualized environments, which gives you more freedom of choice. Considering the amount of model of endpoints available, you can have several options for any use case, from the simplest no display desk phone to a wireless, LCD display, full-featured phone. That also gives you the freedom to select what works best in each environment.
- If you consider both statements above, you'll see that Cisco Unified Communications Manager as the best ROI on the market. As an example, I can say that we're running instances (both hardware and software) of CUCM for the last 5 years. That's a huge advantage if you compare how short the lifecycle of digital platforms are these days. No upgrades, no parts replacement, no support tickets, no TAC calls, nothing.
- Although once you learn how to use the management interface you can do things easily, the look and feel of the management interface has been the same for several years. It's not as modern as the other Cisco platforms and doesn't follow the latest design language we see in other systems. Seems like it got stuck in the past.
- In our architecture, we use the same CUCM servers for both local and remote deployment because Cisco doesn't offer a version for branch offices that is small enough to fit both in our infrastructure and budget. I know they offer CUCM Express, which is a simpler and more affordable version, but it's not the same as the CUCM. You can't use it as a node for a distributed architecture. It only runs as a standalone system. From a management perspective, it takes a little more to support those kinds of mixed environments.
- For large deployments, when you need to replace thousands of analog desk phones for new IP Phones, as our company did in the past, it can be very expensive. That's why it took several years until we reached a point where we could afford to replace more than half of our desk phones at once. The investment needed had to be substantial and sometimes it's not easy to justify that kind of investment if you're only updating the technology. As a manufacturing company, I can tell you that for the person who uses the phone on the floor, it doesn't matter if the phone is analog or IP. It must work and that's it. Although Cisco offers some affordable models, they're limited.
- Having a distributed architecture and phones deployed across all locations gave us a huge ROI along the years. It allowed us not only facilitate communication between offices around the country and the world but at the same time, allowed the company to save a lot of money on phone bills. Imagine, 10 years ago, how expensive international calls were. Well, 10 years ago, we provided our company a way to call office to office, from the US to Brazil, free of charge, no matter how many calls they needed.
- Due to the robustness of the whole solution, we didn't need to invest either in the core infrastructure or desk phones. We still have working desk phones from 15 years ago, when we did our first deployment and that's a huge ROI.
Although it's very easy to use, once you understand the concepts of IP telephony, as I said before, I think Cisco could have improved the management interface of the platform, adding modern technologies and the design language of the other platforms like DNA Center, etc. This interface hasn't had a substantial improvement for about 10 years.
Also as I stated before, we haven't had any major issue with the platform since we started to use it 15 years ago, but the overall support is great. Because it's a consolidated software, with a lot of Cisco certified partners around to world, it's not hard to find someone who has knowledge of the product.
- Skype for Business (formerly Lync)
The lack of support partners for Skype for Business is one of the reasons CUCM stacks up against it. The software itself from MS is not bad, but it's hard to find support. Also, Cisco offers a full-stack solution in the same box, while the Skype for Business architecture is way more complex, and requires at least 4 times more hardware to run what Call Manager does with one. It's important to note that Cisco offers not just the PBX, but also gateways and IP phones all integrated under the same platform and don't need to rely on 3rd parties. That's a huge step ahead of other competitors.
Cisco Unified Communications Manager is well suited for companies who rely on phone communication across several locations. You can deploy a distributed architecture that could support thousands of extensions in multiple sites and manage all of them in just one single pane of glass. Because the investment needed to create this infrastructure is considerably high, it may be not suitable for small businesses, especially in developing countries.