What is CUCM: architecture, features and settings

What is CUCM: architecture, features and settings

  • General

CUCM (Cisco Unified Communications Manager) is the Cisco flagship communication and collaboration solution. CUCM supports organization’s communication, both within the office and remotely. The platform serves as the central nervous system for modern businesses, enabling seamless integration of voice, video, messaging, and data across a wide range of devices and channels. CUCM helps organizations adapt to evolving work trends, facilitating remote work, mobility, and efficient collaboration. With its extensive features, scalable architecture, and support for various endpoints, it is a powerful tool that improves productivity, connectivity and cooperation. In this article, we elaborate on the CUCM key functionality, its platform architecture, the supported devices and endpoints, and the extensive list of CUCM features.

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What is the CUCM functionality?

Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) facilitates effective communication and collaboration within organizations. The communications manager is responsible for call control, device provisioning, messaging, conferencing, and other functions to streamline communication and collaboration:

  • Call Control: the software manages all your voice calls, including call routing, call processing, and call setup. The CUCM ensures that calls are efficiently and securely connected between users, within and outside the organization. CUCM extends call handling with services like call transfer, forward, speed dial, redial and call park.
  • Presence, Unified and Instant Messaging: The CUCM can monitor the user’s status and offers voicemail, instant messaging and chat functionality. The users can access and manage these facilities via a variety of devices, and can be integrated with the user’s email facilities.
  • Conferencing: CUCM makes it easy for teams to organize audio and video conferences, virtual meetings, share screens, and collaborate from different locations. CUCM is designed to schedule and manage these conference resources as efficiently as possible.
  • Call Center Features: To facilitate efficient customer service and support desk operations, CUCM offers call queuing capabilities. The customer service efficiency is improved by handling inbound calls and queuing them until an agent is available.
  • Management and reporting: Via CUCM you can also define and manage dial plans and configure how calls are routed within the organization, including extensions, call permissions, and routing rules. CUCM generates Call Detail Records (CDR) with detailed information for billing, auditing and reporting. The platform uses an own user information database.

CUCM Architecture and Components

The CUCM architecture consists of several vital components and layers. Each layer supports specific communication and management functions:

  • Infrastructure Layer: The CUCM infrastructure layer is the platform’s foundation and consists of routers, switches, and voice gateways to transport data, voice, and video traffic through the network. This layer guarantees high availability, quality of service (QoS), and network security. CUCM supports standard security protocols and ensures communication security through encryption, authentication and authorization mechanisms. User authentication is performed locally or against external directories like the Active Directory.
  • Call Control Layer: On top of the infrastructure layer, the call control layer is responsible for call processing functions, routing, and device control. The call control functionality is physically independent from the CUCM infrastructure in a way that calls can be efficiently routed between geographically separated locations without impacting the service quality.
  • Applications Layer: On top of the infrastructure and call control layers, the applications layer integrates the communication and collaboration applications, complemented with additional applications like Cisco Unified Meeting Place (conferencing functionality) and Cisco Emergency Responder (emergency handling) and the Cisco Unified Contact Center (contact center functionality).
  • Endpoints Layer: The endpoints layer connects the user devices to the CUCM system. This layer ensures users can access the CUCM features and services via various devices. Cisco IP phones, of course, but also desktop computer softphones, video conferencing hardware, smartphones, and other compatible communication devices.
  • Interfaces: CUCM includes standard protocol interfaces like the Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI), Java Telephony Application Programming Interface (JTAPI), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Q.SIG, H.323, Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to integrate third-party applications.

Capacity and sizing

CUCM can be deployed in various configurations, including standalone servers, clustered configurations for redundancy and load balancing, and even virtualized environments to optimize resource utilization and scalability. As such, the CUCM design helps organizations to scale and meet the communication needs of businesses of all sizes, from small enterprises to large multinational corporations. CUCM capacity planning is based on the number of users, devices, and considers factors like call volumes, call types (voice or video), and feature usage. Topics like clustering, redundancy, and geographic distribution also impact the sizing decisions. Cisco guidelines and tools help define the required hardware and resources like CPU, memory, and storage.

CUCM variants available

CUCM is available in several variants for different deployment scenarios and organizational needs. Some well-known variants are:

  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager is the standard deployed variant, providing core call processing and telephony features for businesses of various sizes.
  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express (CUCME) – or Cisco CME or CME – is the CUCM solution for smaller businesses or branch offices. It runs on Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) and offers basic call processing and telephony functions.
  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager Session Management Edition (CUCM SME) supports centralized control of session management, SIP trunking, call routing and connectivity in more extensive and distributed deployments.
  • Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) is a cloud-based variant of CUCM for service providers to offer hosted unified communications services to enterprises. HCS supports multitenant deployments and an extensive set of collaboration services.

CUCM Extension Mobility

RSconnect solutions hook specifically into the CUCM Extension Mobility (EM) feature. Extension Mobility is a powerful CUCM feature that improves your IP Telephony flexibility and productivity. Using the EM feature, the CUCM allows users to log in to any IP desk phone within their organization and use it as their own phone, with their personal settings and preferences. Employees can move from one desk to another without the hassle of manually reconfiguring their phone. They simply log in and the phone loads their individual profile, speed dials, call history, voicemail, and display settings. This feature is specifically valuable in hybrid working scenarios when employees frequently change workstations.

The only limitation of the EM feature is that users have to log in manually via the phone keypad. RSconnect provides solutions for this. Using the Active Login Manager, the EM login will be done automatically if the user opens their laptop; The Active Login App allows one-click logging in via a QR code; and the CUCM EM feature can be integrated with flex-office reservation software via our Business Connector. Try our software to boost the use of your mobility features.

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