Can you hear me now? Tales from a Cisco voice instructor


November 21, 2010  11:35 PM

Enhancing Unity’s Holiday schedules.

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

While Unity allows you to create holiday schedules, it has a few shortcomings. For instance, it does not support partial days, which maybe needed if the company is closed only half the day on certain holidays. It also does not support unique greetings for the holiday; it simply plays the closed greeting.

By leveraging features found in Communications Manager and Unity you can overcome most of these issues. This is done by using Communications Managers time of day routing to route the call to Unity with a unique attribute that Unity can identify and use to route the call to a specified call handler.

Here are the steps required to make this happen:

  1. In Communications Manager create a time period that matches the time you will be closed for the holiday and assign it to a time schedule named Holiday_TS.
  2. In Communications Manager create a partition called Holiday_PT and assign the Holiday_TS time schedule to it.
  3. In  Communications Manager make a pattern that matches your main incoming number. You should already have a pattern like this, so you will need to place the new one in a different partition. Place it in a partition called, “Holiday.” Configure this pattern so that it changes the calling number to 1212121 and have it route the call to Unity.
  4. In Unity create a call handler called Holiday_CH, set the schedule to Always and record the greeting of what you want callers to hear on the holiday.
  5. In Unity create a call routing rule that matches the calling number of 1212121 and route it to the Holiday_CH call handler.

The last thing you need to do is modify the calling search space of the incoming PSTN gateway so that it contains the Holiday_PT partition and is listed before the partition that the standard main number pattern is in.

As with any change you make on your system, these changes should be done during non-production hours. Proper testing is also required. In the end, you are the one responsible to ensure configuration changes never impact the proper operation of the phone system.

November 19, 2010  2:59 PM

Understanding Cisco Unified Communications Manager Time of Day Routing

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Communications Manager allows you to route calls based on the time of the day, day of the week, and date. This can be useful in a number of different situations. For example, you could configure Communications Manager so that long distance calls cannot be placed after hours. This would prevent after hour workers from making these types of calls. It can also be used to route calls to the auto attendant after hours. There are many other uses and in future articles we will explore a few.

The focus of today’s article is to help you gain an understanding of the components required for time of day routing. The principle behind time of day routing is simple. As you may know, partitions are assigned to patterns. In order for a number to be dialed, the calling device must have a calling search space that matches the partition that the number is part of. Time of day routing uses this fact to its advantage by making a partition inactive during certain times.

The components required for time of day routing are time periods, time schedule, and partitions. A time period is a range of time, for instance 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday (figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1

A time schedule is a group of time periods. By grouping time periods together into a time schedule, non-contiguous time ranges can be created. This is useful if your company’s weekend hours are different than the week day hours (figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2

Once the time schedule is created, assign it to a partition (figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

That partition is now only active during the time ranges of the time periods you assigned to the time schedule.


November 16, 2010  5:40 PM

Delegating Adminivstrative Rights in Communications Manager

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

By default the administrator created during the installation of Communications Manager is the only account that has administrative rights to the administrative web page. If you are the only administrator on the system, this might be fine for you. However, there may be times when you would like to give people access to the administrator without giving them complete access. This can be done by configuring Roles.

Roles are objects within Communications Manager that define which configuration parameters can be accessed. This is done by assigning rights to what are refereed to as resources. There are over 250 resources that can be configured. Many of these resources relate to specific administrative web pages. By granting the read and update rights to a role,  you allow users with that role to have access to that web page. For instance, if a role had the read right assigned to the resource called Phone Web Pages, a user with the associated role would have read only access to the phone’s web page.

While you are allowed to create new roles, in most cases you don’t need to. Communications Manager has over 35 pre-configured roles which should suit most environments. For a list of these roles refer to this link.

While role define the administrative rights, a user has roles not assigned directly to users. Instead they are assigned to user groups. This means that the groups a user belongs to actually determines the administrative rights they have. Again, there are a number of pre-configured groups that you can use. These groups have roles assigned to them already. Since groups have can have more than one role assigned to them, you need to make sure you have a good understanding of all the rights a group has before assigning it to a user. Take the Standard CCM Gateway Administrator group. It would seem that this group grants the right to read and update gateways. While it does, it also gives read rights to all other pages in the Communications Manager administrative interface. Since you are not able to edit predefined groups, you have to create a new group if you did not want the user to be able to have read rights to everything else. The easiest way to do this is to copy the existing group and remove the roles you don’t want the user to have. One thing to keep in mind is that any group that is allowed to login to the administrative page should have the Standard CCM Admin Users role assigned.

Now that you have a better understanding of what roles are and how they work, spend sometime examining them in CM. To better understand them create a few new groups in CMand experiment with the effects the roles play on administrative rights. Of course, you should do this on a test system as you should never use a live system as a learning platform.


November 12, 2010  5:58 PM

How to Find Alternative Software

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

I recently purchased a MacBook. I have never used a Mac computer before, so I have been having learn how to do things that are just second nature when I am on a Windows system. It really hasn’t been too bad. The tough part is not having the programs that  I have found over the years and finding Mac alternatives is sometimes proving challenging.

Today I found a site that has made my search a lot easier. It is called alternativeto.net. The way it works is you enter the name of a program and it lists programs that are an alternative. It is really quite simple, but very powerful. You can narrow the search to a specific OS or have it show results for all OSes. Not only does it offer alternative programs for Windows, MAC, and Linux, but it also includes a number of mobile OSes such as iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.  For those of you that are looking to do everything online, it includes online alternatives for many programs.

The next time you find yourself in need of an application for a specific OS or just want to see if there is something better than what you are currently using, check out alternativeto.net


October 31, 2010  11:17 AM

Mutitasking on the Run

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

About a week ago I was on the road, but still had to attend a number of  Webex meetings. One day I realized that it was just about time for a WebEx call to start and I was nowhere near a PC. If you use WebEx at all, you know you can only dial in. But, for this particular call, I needed to be able to view what was being shared. Fortunately, “there’s an app for that.” I used my iPhone to join the meeting. This allowed me to see what was being shared, who was on the call, who was talking and sending messages to other participants. While I was on the call, I got an instant message. It was from someone who was in a jam and needed me to him a file. The problem was I didn’t have the file, it was on my home PC. While still on the WebEx call, I used an iPhone app that allowed me to remote control my PC at home. I found the file and posted it to an FTP server. I was able to instant message the other person and tell him where he could find the file.

So, I was able to participate on a WebEx call, send and receive instant messages, remote to my PC, and still keep an eye on my email all from an iPhone and a 3G connection. I have always liked my iPhone, but every now and then it just amazes me.

As with any computing device, the iPhone is only as good as the software you have installed on it. Here are some apps you might want to check out if you find yourself on the road with nothing but an iPhone:

  • WebEx
  • iTap RDP
  • LogMeIn
  • Teamviewer
  • FTPOnTheGo
  • iDonwload

This is just a short list of the apps I find helpful. There are many great apps out there. What are a few of your favorites?


October 29, 2010  2:18 PM

Public WiFi is VERY Public

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

We all know (or at least we should) that it isn’t safe to connect to an unknown WiFi signal. That’s why most of us play it safe and only connect to well-known hot spots like Starbucks and ATT. That way, we know we are safe, right? Not exactly. We still need to be careful, especially since a programmer named Eric Butler released a Firefox extension called, “Firesheep.” This extension exploits a security flaw of open WiFi. The extension was developed and released to try to bring attention to this flaw.

The security flaw is not new, but the Firesheep extension allows anyone to exploit it. Basically, it allows unencrypted communications to be intercepted. This extension only looks for information being sent to 26 websites including Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Ebay. When you are on the wireless network and attempt to log in to one of these sites, the extension intercepts the cookies that are sent. While cookies typically do not include passwords, the interceptor can theoretically access your account.

While the intention of this extension is well meaning, there are many people lacking good intentions that will choose to use it for less honorable actions. The net result is that, while the extension does raise the attention, it also greatly increases the chances of how often this flaw will be exploited. Over a half a million copies of it have already been downloaded.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? It is really quite simple -  don’t use public hot spots. Now, of course, that is easier said than done. If you have to use a public hot spot, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. These include things like staying away from sites like banking, shopping, and email. Again, easier said than done. There is also a service that may help. It is called Hot Spot Shield. It is a free service that provides a secure HTTPS connection. It also provides privacy and allows you to bypass firewalls. It works on both Macs and PCs. I just started to use it and it seems to work fairly well.

When using a device like an iPhone or iPad, I use Logmein or Teamviewer. These apps allow me to remote control my system at home. I then use the home system to surf and check email. Since the apps provide a secure connection to my home PC, I am actually accessing the website from my home, and I don’t have to worry about that traffic being intercepted. If you don’t use apps like this, Hot Spot Shield also provides an iPhone solution.

As the saying goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. You’ve been warned, now go get armed.


October 28, 2010  8:29 AM

Delegating Administrative Rights in Unity Connection

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

If you are new to Unity Connection or moving from Unity to Unity Connection, one of the things you are going to need to know how to do is to setup administrative right to users. That is, unless you are the only administrator. Even then you will need to grant yourself administrative rights.

If you are coming from a Unity system, you will most likely head right to the class of service settings to do this because that is where it is done in Unity. I would advise against this, mainly because that is not where these rights are configured. Unity Connection uses Roles to assign administrative rights. This is similar to how Communications Manager does it, but it is actually a lot easier in Unity Connection.

Unity Connection has eight predefined roles that cannot be changed nor can additional ones be added. Fortunately, you will find that the predefined roles will be antiquated for most environments. Here are the names and description of each role:

Role Function
Audio Text Administrator Access to call handlers, directory handlers, and interview handlers.
Greeting Administrator Can recorded call handler greetings via the phone.
Help Desk Administrator Able to reset user passwords and unlock user accounts as well as view user settings.
Mailbox Access Delegate Account Message access via Messaging APIs.
Remote Administrator Database administration via remote management tools
System Administrator All administrative functions, reports, and tools for server and users.
Technician Able to view all system and user settings, run all reports and diagnostic tools as well as access to functions that enable management of system and phone system integration settings.
User Administrator Access to user administration functions, reports, and administration tools.

You can take a closer look at what rights each role has by following these steps:

  1. Navigate to System Settings> Roles.
  2. Select the role you are interested from the list that appears.
  3. The rights are listed in detail under the Role Privileges heading.

To assign a role to a user:

  1. Go to user configuration page .
  2. Select Roles for the edit menu.
  3. Highlight the desired role in the available Roles box.
  4. Click the up arrow (^)  to move it into the Assigned Roles box.
  5. Click Save.

With the exception of the Greetings Administrator role, it is recommended that administrative roles are not assigned to the normal voice mail account of a user, but rather a separate account created and assigned roles. The user would then use that account to conduct administrative duties.


October 25, 2010  2:42 PM

How the New Cisco Voice Certification Track Affects Current Candidates

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

So, by now you may have heard that Cisco has announced a new Voice certification track. It is called, “CCNP for Voice.” Basically, it is CCVP renamed and updated. If you are interested in this news, it most likely means you are in one of two boats. One is that you are interested in persuing a CCNP for Voice, but have not yet started. For you, procrastination has paid off. All you have to do is pass the exams associated to the new tests.

However, there are those of you in the other boat, that is, the boat that has already set sail. You started testing a few months ago and already have a couple of tests under your belt. How do all of the changes affect you? Well, if you can pass all of the tests by February 28, 2011, you should be OK. That is the last day the old tests are going to be available. But, what if you aren’t going to be able to do that? Don’t worry, Cisco has created a path that allows older tests to be combined with the new tests on order to obtain your certification. How this works is pretty straightforward. You need to pass either the old or the new test for each topic. The graphic below shows how the old and new tests align:

One thing is a little different on the new track. From what I hear you also have to pass the ICOMM test, which is the CCNA for Voice certification, in order to get the CCNP for Voice. In the past, the IIUC, which was a CCNA Voice level test, was not required for the CCVP.


October 23, 2010  12:34 PM

New Cisco Voice Classes

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

In my last blog I told you that Cisco just updated the CCVP track, which is now called CCNP for Voice. They added two completely new courses. This blog takes a look at what these courses cover.

The first of the new courses is called, “Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications” (ICOMM). This five day course is the entry level course for the Cisco Voice certification track. It covers basic administration tasks for Cisco’s Communications Manager, Communications Manager Express, Unity Connection and Unified Presence. The associated test for this course is the 642-661. In order to get a CCNA for Voice, an individual must pass this test and hold a valid CCNA (route/switch). This course seems like it offers a fairly good base for a number of the Cisco voice products, but the typical administrator may find they are learning things that are not pertinent. For example, if you are administering a Communications Manager and Unity Connection system but do not have Communications Manager Express or Unified Presence deployed, those portions of the course will not pertain to you.

If you are looking to get a CCNA for Voice, then this is the class for you. If you are not seeking a certification and do not need to know how to configure all of these products, check other Cisco courses such as, “Administering Cisco Unified Communications Manager” (ACUCM) and “Administering Unity Connections” (AUC).

The other new course is called, “Integrating Cisco Unified Communications Applications” (CAPPS). It focuses on Unity Connections, Unity Express, and Presence. While ICOMM also covers some of these topics, CAPPS looks at it from more of an integrating angle than an administration one. While there is bound to be some level of overlap, CAPPS promises to be more of an engineering level course. In addition to covering the integration of these products, some troubleshooting and monitoring techniques are covered. The associated test for this class (642-467) is part of the CCNP for Voice requirements.

I am sure there are some of you out there saying, “Oh great, now that I am halfway through my CCVP tests, they change it all.” Don’t worry, there is still time. It looks like the current tests can be taken until 02/28/11.


October 21, 2010  9:42 AM

Cisco Updates CCVP Certification Track

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Today Cisco announced that the CCVP track has been updated with new courses and exams. In addition to updating the track, they also changed the name to CCNP for Voice. Here are the changes as I understand them.

Some of the changes are simply updates to the previous courses/exams, but they have also removed some tests and added a couple. Here’s the list of courses that have been updated along with the new test number:

  • CIPT 1 642-447 (replaces 642-446)
  • CIPT2 642-457 (replaces 642-456)
  • CVoice 642-437 (replaces 642-436)

The TUC Class has been renamed and is now called TVoice. The test number for TVoice is 642-427 (replaces 642-426).

Two new classes have been added as well. They are Integrating Cisco Unified Communications Applications, which goes by the acronym of CAPPS (test number 642-467) and Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications Administration and uses ICOMM (test number 640-461) as its acronym. I have no idea how they came up with the acronyms as none of them seem to be a true acronym, but they are what they are.

You may notice that there is no mention of the Gateway/Gatekeeper and QoS course. These courses/exams are not part of the new CCNP for Voice track. Much content within these courses is covered within the new courses.

In my next blog I will take a closer look at the new courses (ICOMM and CAPPS) and discuss what topics these cover.


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