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UC clients: Cisco Jabber (initial) review

(Finally some spare time to post!).
About 1 year ago I watched a Cisco webcast about their UC strategy: the unification of a single client for all platforms. After the initial releases with OSX, IOS, Android and now the Windows version release. The ‘brand’ name was bought on 2008: Jabber, a presence+IM client based on the XMPP protocol.

Firstly, I think the ‘name unification’, logo and similar interface a smart ideia.
Cisco decided to advertise Jabber as a client ‘free for all customers’… you might add ‘paying customers’ (check the comments). But there’s really a free version available for everyone.

This is an initial review using the two clients available for Windows and OSX (have no resource$ to test the iP* editions). I will update and even correct based on all feedback received by the readers. Cisco guys are also invited to correct or clarify any doubts :)

The main interface is a facelift of the previous version (CUPC). It has a group tab on the left, contact search on top, with tagged contacts list on the main window. The contact pictures can be retrieved from an url or and LDAP/AD.
….…..

For the user, the interface it’s a simple ‘point and comunicate’:
>> Instant Messaging and file transfer
 ………
>> Voice, video (where you can get a 720p H.264 quality) and desktop sharing (including remote control)

>> and others, like Outlook presence integration, click-to-call tags (on browsers).

Another interesting feature is that this client can be used for and on-premises deployment or a cloud service (WebEx).

Other nice features are the ability to switch between networks (cellular to Wifi) and clients, without interrupting a call.

Remote users have Jabber Secure Connect (throw a Cisco ASA) to reach the infrastructure.

My opinion: Good

I just tried the Windows and OSX versions, but from the users perspective the experience was positive and I believe that with this one interface platform approach Cisco is on the right path to continue on the UC leaders group.
I still maintain my previous opinion: If you are already a Cisco customer, you should consider this solution portfolio if you want to extend your VoIP infrastructure.

But … now it’s time for some considerations.

The clients are not consistent between platforms:
- The current Windows version is 9.0 and on OSX is 8.6. This means that for 8.x you provide all the configurations using CUPS, and on the new 9.0 you also need to define an XML configuration file for the client (Jabber standards);
- There are reports that the IOS client loses connectivity with the server and other bad reviews;
- Some features and requirements are undefined: is there a Cisco Jabber IM and a Jabber for iOS? is a WebEx meeting client required for conferencing data sharing?

In terms of infrastructure requirements, you still need to investment based on the feature needs:
- At least a CUCM and a CUP servers are required for a Jabber deployment;
- Multiparty IM is supported but you will need servers (or services) for voice, video and content conferencing.
- Full voice mail features requires Cisco Unity;
But you can try to now put all them on fewer physical servers (using VMware). Also “for current Unified Communications Manager customers, with this announcement Cisco Unified Presence server software is available at no additional license cost… video capabilities will require separate licensing”.

And other small limitations might be considered:
- You can only sign-in from one Jabber endpoint at a time;
- You can only search LDAP directories. Support for Outlook personal contacts will be available soon.

Don’t see this as ‘criticism’… more like as ‘space for improvement’ ;) .
You can make your personal opinion starting on the Jabber official site.

Comments and opinions are welcomed.

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2 responses to “UC clients: Cisco Jabber (initial) review

  1. pruzicka 04/06/2012 at 11:39

    What is also nice is ability to call from your computer (aka soft-phone) or control your desk phone from Jabber (click to call, or dial number from Jabber and user your desk phone).
    some notes
    - you could connect from multiple locations, better say, it depends
    - yes, Jabber IM/Presence is free now, if customer has CUCM installation
    - you need Webex if you share data to more that 1-1. So sharing between 5 people, recording meetings etc. requires Webex.
    - iOS -> there are now two apps for iPhone, IM/Presence and voice. On iPad we have now only one -> IM/Presence, video, voice, voicemail etc. iPhone should follow and put those two mentioned above together.
    Feel free to contact me if you want to.

    • Greg S (@GregSeeber) 09/10/2012 at 18:37

      I think one of the worst things about the Cisco solution is the fact that users have to VPN into the network to use it remotely. On Lync, you go right over the edge using SSL certs and it’s pretty seamless. The ability to desktop share with MAC is huge to. Cisco kinda pushes interoprability and being platform agnostic – but the truth that i found is that it’s way more difficult what works on which platform. With Lync, for example, the user experience between PC vs.MAC is very comparable. The main issue where Cisco has shown strength is in mobility … as they have done a great job leveraging webex. Can’t wait to see what Microsoft does with Lync after procuring Skype.

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