Cisco has announced a range of products geared to make its IP telephony robust and scalable enough for use in the enterprise.
Paul Di Leo, Cisco's operations director enterprise for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the networking giant is bolstering its IP telephony line-up and large-scale deployments by increasing scalability, availability and intelligence.
Cisco today announced IP Call Processing technology geared to enterprise use, second-generation IP phones, integrated packet telephony features into the Catalyst 6000 family of switches and additional platforms for gateway functionality.
The products fit into the networking giant's existing Architecture for voice, video and integrated data (Avvid) networking strategy, which was announced last year.
Using IP technology, Cisco Avvid distributes call processing functionality throughout the network to provide horizontal scalability and high availability.
Cisco Callmanager 3.0 software uses Microsoft Windows 2000 technology, and is able to group multiple Cisco Callmanager servers in a single cluster and still manage them as a single entity.
Cisco claimed Callmanager 3.0 can support 10,000 phones in a single cluster of five Media Convergence Servers with up to 10 clusters supported throughout an Enterprise network, scaling up to 100,000 users per multi-site system.
Onto its flagship Catalyst 6000 family, Cisco has launched integrated gateway interface cards (one analog and two digital) and a 48 port 10/100 Ethernet switch module with integrated QoS and a migration path to in-line power capabilities. For existing installations, Cisco is introducing an Inline Power patch panel, and a standalone, modular analog trunk/station gateway.
The second generation of Cisco IP Phones have features such as programmable buttons and a graphical user interface. Additionally, the 7960 provides intelligent network services through an integrated 10/100 ethernet switch port on the back.
"The Catalyst is becoming an intelligent switch, not just for data but for voice," said Di Leo. "We're building five or six nines availability depending on how you want to scale your network."
To protected private branch (PBX) exchange investments, Cisco also announced the Cisco VG200 modular gateway which supports the same interfaces as voice-enabled Cisco 2600 and 3600 routers and gateways.
"This kind of technology will find its way slowly into the enterprise, but it will be a slow migration," said Pim Bilderbeek, IDC Director of European networking research.
Bilderbeek said Cisco's lack of an installed PBX base was both a strength and a weakness.
"It's a good idea to make it easier to migrate. If a user has invested in a PBX system he's not going to invest in something that won't integrate," said Bilderbeek.
IDC predicts that the market for converged branch exchanges will be worth $1.4bn by 2003.
These products are due to be release around the second quarter of this year.
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