It’s time to make a review of Cisco Unified Personal Communicator v8.5, before my presence server demo license expires…
This is a very complete UC client with multi-directory integrated contact, rich presence and can perform instant messaging, voice and video communications. You can also initiate web meetings, access voice mail and integrate with your (Microsoft) mail client and applications.
Before you can install and start using it, know that you need the following servers (the first two are mandatory for user access and functionality):
> Cisco Unified Communications Manager – user, voice and video call control;
> Cisco Unified Presence Server – presence, IM, federation, and contact integration;
> Cisco Unified MeetingPlace (or maybe Webex) – Web Conferencing;
> Cisco Unified Videoconferencing – for multi-point voice and video;
> Cisco Unity Unified Messaging – for complete voice messaging;
(you can use Microsoft Exchange UM for voice-mail handling).
The CUPC v8.5.1 is a Windows client (Mac OSx is only on V7.0.2) but it can run on XP/Vista and 7 on both 32 and 64 bit version.
Just like CUCIlync, configuring in CUCM server is rather easy since is also CUCSF phone associated with a userid, but you provide all necessary client settings from the CUPS server, so the user only has to enter is user id (configured on CUCM), password and server address.
The interface is very friendly and self learn-paced. On the main screen you can organize your contacts, manually add or search the directory by name / phone number. The administrator will centrally define search directories (LDAP/AD compliant) and configure federation with other systems domains (CUPS, OCS/Lync or XMPP), so you can even add and exchange presence and IM with outside users (and even compliant voice and video).
You can escalate between conversations, from an IM you can initiate a voice call add or stop video. The IM is a separate window from the voice/video and I believe its because you can join a multiparty IM conversation (using CUPS), but you need an MCU (using CUCM) to make voice/video conferencing. I don’t have Meetingplace or an hardware MCU, but I can confirm that 720p is supported on peer-to-peer call.
A very interesting part comes now. CUPC (more specifically CUCSF) integrates with Browsers and Microsoft Office. We can right click on a phone number and initiate a call. But in Outlook 2010 we experience presence integration and initiate IM and voice calls directly on your email contacts. If I only show you this message picture you might think that you were look at a Microsoft MOC integration… But if I change the presence status on a contact it imediate update on Outlook. And if you integrate CUPS with exchange with can update your status based on your calendar.
Off course there’s a lot of subtle differences from Microsoft Lync, but we will discuss that on a different other post
There’s some other features that I couldn’t test, like group chat, offline messaging and web conferencing, but this will give you an idea of CUPC v8.5. Remember that this is a version for Windows and you will not find it the exact features on other platforms… let’s wait for Cisco Jabber.
My Opinion: Good
This is why Cisco and Microsoft are leader and close competitors on the UC market. The end user experience and communications choices are just right.
If you already have an Cisco UC infrastructure you should prioritize your investment in the CUPC. The feedback from the user will support your investments in future needs.
If you don’t have and are planning for a UC solution, Cisco should be on your list for evaluation.
Conclusion: It’s good… but still not enough 😉
Update june 3rd: The new version (Jabber) is now available and reviewed.