Cisco has somewhat left behind the traditional "voice" part of VoIP and now roll that up into "IP communications". This encompasses solutions that extend from information systems (Web and browsable information/advertising on handsets), through to soft video and voice communications on products such as TV/Monitor displays, and impressive roaming solutions.
Unlike Avaya and Nortel -- who have their roots in the telephony and PABX type side of the equation -- Cisco Systems originated on networking side of the divide and therefore isn't as interested in the gap between legacy devices and VoIP technologies. This, combined with Cisco's prodigious development and acquisition budgets, has assisted the company to develop and refine many of the systems it has available today.
We visited Cisco in its North Sydney office and had a brief tour of the demonstration labs there. Two products reside at the heart of any Cisco VoIP solution, either the CallManager Express or the CallManager. CallManager Express is telephony router based on Cisco's IOS operating system and scales from two to 100 users. CallManager scales from 100 to 30,000 users in a single cluster.
Cisco's data communications heritage ensures its systems are built on the grounds of data security, scalability, and redundancy (including geographical redundancy between two physically separate sites).
An estimated price for a converged enterprise-level (400 to 500 users) solution from Cisco -- including gateway, handsets, applications, and redundancy -- can be had for around AU$1000 per user.
Cisco has developed an extension to the H.323 protocol called Skinny Client Control Protocol (SCCP) or H.323+ that is used in its systems. Some devices now also support the SIP protocol.
Video and content delivery convergence across devices are currently a strong focus for Cisco in this field. from integrated video solutions (voice, video, data), through to rich-media collaboration, audio conferencing, instant messaging, video conferencing, and Web collaboration.
Cisco's main business focus for its IP communications division is on head offices with remote sites of at least 100 users, generally averaging around 300 to 500 users. An example of a Cisco deployment in Australia is Woodside Petroleum with 2500 users at a single site.