Options to Integrate Microsoft & Cisco Communications System
Cisco’s presence in network side and Microsoft’s presence in software side, continues to improvise unified communications space of an organization. Choice between two is a discussion of advanced stage. How do you make first move about it? Do you want to keep the two setup in isolation? Do you get benefits if interop is enabled? What should be your interop strategy? Play balanced or give advantage to one on another? What about user experience? What about cost saving? What about business productivity enhancements? Definitely, there are lot many things to ponder!
There are many benefits of enabling interop between your communication systems. These benefits span from user experience to cost to company. I, as an end user, would love to get maximum UC features using single user interface. I wouldn’t like to switch to multiple applications\devices for every other UC modality. In later case, my user experience and business productivity gets compromised.
Depending on interop design, you can expect following benefits;
- Telephony Features: Ease of placing calls using software\devices of each other.
- IM\Presence: Allows to share presence status & chat between Jabber and Skype For Business (SFB) users.
- E-mail & Voice Mail: Limited integration of email and voice mail products exist between Microsoft and Cisco products.
- Conferencing: Ease of scheduling and joining meeting using applications\devices of each other.
Cisco and Microsoft are fierce competitors in the unified communications space. Their approach towards unified communications products and services differ by miles. Hence, we can’t expect an ideal interop option between the products offered by the two companies. By the end of day, it’s all about an effort by one to replace the other.
These are the major Interop options;
Federate Cisco Unified Presence & Skype For Business (SFB) Setup
XMPP service runs on Skype For Business (SFB) Front End and Edge Server. You can use this component to federate with internal or external Jabber setup. You can also share same name space between the platforms. Thus, enabling instant messaging (chat) and presence between Jabber and SFB users.
A reference diagram to connect Skype For Business (SFB) with Cisco Unified Presence Server (CUPS) as a federated partner. In this case, you don’t share similar SIP domains on CUPS and SFB servers\pools.
A reference diagram to connect Skype For Business (SFB) with Cisco Unified Presence Server (CUPS) as a partitioned intra-domain federated partner. This would allow you to configure similar SIP domain on the Cisco Unified Presence nodes and Skype for Business pools\servers.
Configure Direct SIP
You can configure SIP trunking between CUCM and Skype for Business setup. This would simplify the telecommunications setup in the environment. A Lync\SFB user would be able to place call to Cisco end point, and vice versa.
Because SIP trunks connect directly to your service provider, you can eliminate your PSTN gateways and their management cost and complexity. Using a SIP trunk can lead to substantial cost savings through reduced maintenance and administration.
Skype For Business (SFB) supports centralized as well as distributed SIP trunking.
Enable Enterprise Voice Integration
You can integrate Cisco and SFB\Lync voice setup without configuring a SIP trunk. (In this case) You need a gateway (Audiocodes, Sonus etc) to intermediate Skype for Business and CCM infrastructure. This will enable users to be able to place CUG calls (extensions configured on either Cisco phones or SFB\Lync users). This interop configuration greatly improves user experience. A Lync\SFB user can place call to Cisco extension, and vice versa.
CUCI-Lync provides access to Cisco Unified Communications from Microsoft Lync. It allows Microsoft Lync users to continue using Presence and IM capabilities, but, it connects the user to Cisco UC Deployment for other capabilities; video, voice, conferencing etc. Primarily, CUCI-Lync is used to contain Microsoft Enterprise Voice (EV) adoption in the environment.
Call via Work
Remote Call Control was supported by previous versions of Lync server. RCC allowed you to control PBX phones using Lync clients. You needed to install SIP/CSTA gateway that can connect to Lync Server and the PBX.
Skype for Business server no more supports Remote Call Control (RCC). Call via Work is an official replacement of Remote Call Control (RCC). Call via Work uses UCWA (instead of CSTA gateway) to connect Skype for Business Server and PBX deployment. UCWA is by default installed on the Front End servers
Integration with Acano
Integration between Skype for Business (SFB) and Acano is rich and awesome. It preserves the native experience for SFB users, while letting them to communicate across and between organizations without worrying about the underlying technology. A true win-win situation for a customer.
This integration model supports federated SFB\Lync clients, consumer Skype, point-to-point calls between SFB\Lync and non-Microsoft end points, directory search across platform and Instant Messaging/Presence sharing between SFB\Lync and non-Microsoft end points.
Visit this link to know more about SFB-Acano integration:https://www.acano.com/publications/2016/03/White-Paper-Acano-S4BLync-Integration-Architecture.pdf
Note: Acano has been acquired by Cisco recently.http://blogs.cisco.com/collaboration/acano-joins-cisco-its-official
Skype for Business Server has introduced a new role, Video Interop Server (VIS). It allows you to integrate Skype For Business (SFB) with Cisco\Tandberg Video Teleconferencing (VTCs) solutions.
A video SIP trunk needs to be defined between CUCM and the VIS Pool. In this architecture, only calls over the SIP trunk from the VTC to the VIS are supported. This design allows supported Cisco\Tandberg VTCs to dial into a Skype for Business hosted conference. Given the number of known limitations, it’s highly recommended to asses this design carefully before adopting it. Features provided by VIS pool are expected to evolve in time to come.
By the end of day, it’s easier to be strongly opinionated about a particular product. What matters most is, to decide, what is relevant for the organization in longer term. A decision to deploy unified communication system involves assessment of many factors. Following article takes a deep dive into these factors.Reasons to have a unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) strategy
A decision to enable interop between UC platforms should also be taken after going through various aspect(s) of unified communications strategy.
Note:Microsoft has stopped supporting Remote Call Control (RCC). This was one of the options to enable interop between Microsoft and Cisco UC infrastructure.