While voice calls are no longer the only option for communicating with coworkers, customers, and colleagues, it still remains a vital part of business operations.
It’s vital enough that you’ll likely dedicate time and resources to ensure it has quality performance.
If you opt for a Cisco collaboration package, such as BE6K or BE7K, Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Unified CM or CUCM) is the application that will handle voice and video calls.
This application provides reliable, secure, scalable, and manageable call control and session management.
As a Cisco partner, here at The KR Group, we’re asked about the applications included with BE6K or BE7K and often find ourselves explaining what Unified CM is.
There are four things you should know about Unified CM:
- What is Unified CM?
- How does Unified CM differ from BE6K or BE7K?
- How does CUCM integrate?
- What is CUCM’s integration with Active Directory?
Understanding these aspects of Unified CM will give you a better idea of what is included with a Cisco collaboration package.
What is Unified CM?
Unified CM is the core of Cisco’s collaboration infrastructure. It is an IP-based communications system that allows you to contact your coworkers or customers through audio or video regardless of physical location.
The primary function of CUCM is call processing and phone registration. Essentially, it is the brain of the phone; the physical handsets are just endpoints.
Unified CM is what processes your calls (both video and audio). It’s the application that provides services such as hold, transfer, conference, music on hold, and extension mobility.
How does Unified CM differ from BE6K or BE6K?
When you purchase a package of BE6K or BE7K, you’ll run the accompanying applications (including CUCM, CUCM IM and Presence Service, Unity Connection as well as optional Telepresence Server, Expressway, and Unified Contact Center) through VMWare on a medium- or high-density server. (Which server you’ll need will depend on how large your company is and how much you are using your call system.)
Unified CM is one of the applications of Cisco collaboration solutions, and it’s the one that enables your calling. It is what powers communication aspects, including:
- Call processing
- Signaling and control of devices
- Administration of the dial plan
- Administration of phone characteristics
- Directory services
- External application interface
- Backup and restore tools
BE6K and BE7K are packages of Cisco collaboration products, including CUCM.
Whether you opt for BE6K or BE7K, you’ll receive the same set of tools with CUCM. The only difference is with BE6K, the technology is only available for up to 1,000 users — the maximum number of licenses allowed with this option. Whereas, with BE7K can scale up to 30,000 users with multiple host servers.
How does CUCM integrate?
Ultimately, the Unified CM product suite is designed to optimize functionality and reduce the requirements for configuration and maintenance as well as increase interoperability.
If you still rely on IP and/or analog paging systems or faxing, CUCM integrates with them via software.
Other major communications technologies CUCM integrates with include:
- IP phones
- Customer contact center
- Video calls and conferencing
- Call reporting
- Applications from third parties
What is CUCM’s integration with Active Directory?
While there are many possibilities of integrations with Cisco Unified Call Manager, one we’re frequently asked about is between Cisco Unified Call Manager and Active Directory. This request is so common we’ve heard it from every business who’s purchased BE6K from us
Integrating CUCM and Active Directory allows your users’ profiles to synchronize across applications. Instead of requiring different user names and passwords to log into your computer, your email, and other collaboration applications, once this integration is completed, you can use the same user ID and password for all of them.
Another benefit of this integration is it connects users’ phones and voicemails to their email addresses and enables voicemails to be sent as email attachments.
Both of these benefits enhance the user experience of CUCM.
What does this mean?
If you’re considering BE6K, BE7K, or Call Manager Express, CUCM is what enables the strong audio and video processing application of the collaboration packages.
Unified CM is what enables you to use voice, video, or messaging to connect with coworkers or customers regardless of geographic location.
With CUCM, you can reliably connect via audio or video with your colleagues or customers.
As we stated, CUCM is only one component of the product suite accompanying Cisco’s collaboration packages, though.
For more information on Cisco’s BE6K package, you can check out our articles: