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Sun 5 Mar 2006 04:00 AM

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Paving the way for open platform

Networking giant Cisco’s global release of Unified CallManager 5.0 will see the first version of the vendor’s truly open internet protocol (IP) soft switch PBX. The move will be a welcome one for the end user community. This is the first time Cisco customers will have the ability to mix and match IP phones from different vendors depending on their business requirements.

|~||~||~|Networking giant Cisco’s global release of Unified CallManager 5.0 will see the first version of the vendor’s truly open internet protocol (IP) soft switch PBX. The move will be a welcome one for the end user community. This is the first time Cisco customers will have the ability to mix and match IP phones from different vendors depending on their business requirements.

However, the pricing model of the new release may be of some concern to customers. Based on previous pricing models, customers will require a seat license for each end device, whether it is a Cisco IP phone or a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) IP phone from a third party. It is understood the new pricing structure may make a SIP license slightly more expensive than a Cisco skinny license. The approved third party SIP phones will support 19 SIP features while Cisco’s own SIP phones will support 210 features.

In addition, since SIP is seen as a transport protocol rather than a fully-fledged feature set provided by Cisco’s skinny protocol, some of the advanced call features used in the new CallManager would not be available with third party devices. However, having said that, the CallManager represents a huge technological advance in its ability to support both the existing proprietary Cisco SCCP (skinny client control protocol) and the open standards SIP protocol. Furthermore, the 4.2 release version of the product will continue using the Microsoft Windows operating system, and will continue to operate on existing CallManager 4.0 hardware.

Cisco’s appliance version of the product (5.0) is based on a customised Linux kernel. The Linux version will also see the departure of Microsoft SQL as the back-end database for the CallManager, and the removal of the master/subscriber relationship between CallManager servers. Indications from the vendor suggest that every CallManager soft switch will be able to operate as both a database master and subscriber concurrently, which will further increase the product’s resilience and reliability during a soft switch failure. ||**||

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