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


December 5, 2009  8:30 PM

Use Unity’s Bulk Edit to Set Subcriber’s Phone to Ring



Posted by: Dave Bateman
bulk edit, Cisco, Subscriber phone ringing, Unity, Unity tools depot

In the last article I gave an overview of Unity’s Bulk Edit tool. In this article we will build on that and learn how to use bulk edit to correct a common issue.

If you use Unity’s default Subscriber template without making any modifications to it, the subscriber’s phone will not ring when a call is transferred to them from Unity’s auto attendant. The reason this happens is that the default template is configured to send calls directly to the subscribers greeting.

For this example we will change this setting on two subscribers using the bulk edit tool. Of course, you could use bulk edit to change the setting on more than two users,  but we are just going to keep it simple for this example.

Step 1. Click the Cisco Unity Tools Depot icon on the desktop of the Unity server.

Step 2. Start Bulk Edit by double clicking on the Bulk Edit icon under the Administration Tools list within Cisco Unity Tools Depot.

Step 3. Once Bulk Edit has loaded, select Subscribers from the Overview screen and click Next.

Step 4. Find the subscribers you want to modify. In this example we know that their extension numbers are 2001 and 2002, so I will use the Subscriber with extension numbers from: option to find the subscribers (figure 1). Now click Add To Grid.

Bulk Edit Subscriber Selection

Figure 1

Step 5. Click Next and select the Transfer tab on the next screen.

Step 6. You will see there are three sub tabs, select Standard.

Step 7. Set the Ring Phone field to True (figure 2) and click Next.

Bulk Edit Ring Phone Set To True

Figure 2

Step 8. On the next screen, click Update Subscribers. The update process will begin.

Step 9. When all the subscribers have been updated, a summary window will appear stating if there were any errors or warnings during this process. Click OK.

Step 10. You are now offered the opportunity to review a log file for this operation. Choose OK to view it or Cancel to skip it.

Step 11. Click Exit on the next screen to exit Bulk Edit.

I hope this example helps you better understand how to use Bulk Edit. This tool can save literally hours of work. So, you can spend your weekend updating subscribers one at a time or let Bulk Edit do it for you. I promise I won’t tell anyone else that you didn’t spend the weekend in the office.

December 4, 2009  11:42 PM

How To Use Unity’s Bulk Edit Tool



Posted by: Dave Bateman
bulk edit, Cisco, tools depot, Unity

In the last article, I wrote about parameters within Unity that you’re going to want changed before adding any users. I also relayed a story about a student that spent the entire weekend fixing problems that were caused because these parameters were not changed. The really sad part about her story was that she didn’t have to spend the entire weekend fixing the problems, she fixed each subscriber one at a time. If she had only known that there is utility within Unity that will allow you to make bulk changes to users (subscribers) and call handlers. As promised in last article, we will take a look at that tool now.

The tool is called a bulk edit. As the name indicates, it allows you to make bulk changes, that is, a number of changes within Unity at one time. This tool allows you to change call handlers as well as subscribers and various other unity elements. Typically, it is mostly used to change subscriber settings.

The first thing you need to know is how to start this utility. The bulk edit tool is part of the Cisco Unity Tools Depot. The tools depot is a collection of tools that can help you administer and troubleshoot Unity. You can access the tools depot by selecting the Cisco Unity Tools Depot icon (figure 1) on the desktop of the Unity server.

CUTD Icon

Figure 1

There are a number of tools here, and we will explore others in future articles but for now, we are mainly concerned with bulk edit tool. Once you are inside the tools depot, expand the Administration Tools folder. You will see the Bulk Edit tool list here. Double click on this icon to start the bulk edit tool (you may also right click and select Launch Application).

The first screen that appears asks what type of object you would like to edit (figure 2).

Bulk Edit - Select Object Type

Figure 2

Once you select the type of object, you need to select the specific object(s). You can search based on parameters such as name, extension or distribution list. Once the object(s) appears in the list, place a check mark next to them (figure 3).

Bulk Edit - Select Objects

Figure 3

On the next screen you will see there are a number of tabs. Each tab relates to a set of parameters for these objects. Find the appropriate tabs and make the desire changes.

Once you select Update Subscribers or Update Call Handlers on the next screen, the objects will be modified. When all of the objects are updated, a window will appear with a summary of errors and warnings, You will then be offered an opportunity to view a log file that reflects what changes were made.

This article offered you a high level overview of this tool. The next article will show, step-by-step, how to use this tool to fix one of the most common issues that can occur when subscribers are added using an unmodified default template.


November 25, 2009  7:04 PM

What You Should Know Before You Add Unity Subscribers



Posted by: Dave Bateman
Adding Users to Unity, Cisco, Subscriber template, Unity

Whenever I teach, I begin the class by doing introductions. One week while we were doing introductions, a student introduced herself and said, “And Unity sucks.” I said to her, “I can sense something’s bothering you, would like to share it with the class?” She said, “Yeah, we just ran into that Unity bug this weekend, and I spent the whole weekend fixing it.” I told here that she would have to be a little more specific than that “Unity bug.” “You know, the one where the phone doesn’t ring when it is transferred from the auto attendant” was her reply. I immediately knew exactly what she was talking about.

If you don’t change the subscriber templates before adding users, you are going to end a few things that you may like about the way it operates. One of things is that when it transfers the call, it is sent directly to voicemail and does not ring a subscriber’s extension. This is not a bug in the system, or an error. This is just the way it works. So before you add subscribers you may want to make a few changes.

Let’s take a look at a few of the settings that you may want change. First let’s look at the issue this young lady had. If you look at the default subscriber template and go to the Call Transfer settings, you’ll see that it is set to go directly to greeting. You will want to change this to ring the subscriber’s extension. Figure 1 shows that how this setting should look.

Call Transfer Settings

Figure 1

Another common issue is that when a user wants to send or forward a voicemail to another user of the same system, Unity will ask them to address the message by entering the name of the other user. Typically, people want to simply enter the extension number of the person. To fix this setting, go to the Conversation section of the subscriber template and set the Identify addressee by: setting to Enter the extension. You need to go into system settings to fix this. Figure 2 shows what this setting should look like:

Identify Addressee Setting

Figure 2

Another setting that a lot of administrators don’t like is that by default the user will have the ability to remove themselves from the directory of the auto attendant. This setting is not part of the subscriber template but rather the Class of Service. To change this, navigate to the class of service you wish to change and go to the Profile page. Change the setting so it reflects what you see in figure 3:

Directory Listing Setting

Figure 3

There may be other settings that you want changed based on your environment. Do yourself a favor – take the time to look at all the different settings within Unity and make sure things are set the way you want before adding subscribers.

The good news is if you don’t do this, there is a way to quickly change settings for multiple users. There is a tool called bulk edit. We’ll take a look at this tool in the next post.


November 23, 2009  7:46 PM

How To Add Phones That Don’t Have Voicemail To Unity’s Auto-Attendant



Posted by: Dave Bateman
auto attendant, Cisco, Internet subsciber, Unity

Have you ever run into a situation where you needed to add phones to the directory in Unity but the phone didn’t necessarily need a voicemail account? Let’s say you have a customer that has five phones they want listed in the directory but didn’t want voicemail assign to them. They want to know if there was a way to add these phones to directory without having to use a voicemail license. Here’s what you are going to tell them.

Unity allows for a type of subscriber known as an Internet subscriber. The subscriber is configured with an Internet e-mail address. If a voicemails is left to the subscriber, Unity will send it via e-mail as a wav of attachment. This type of subscriber does not require any type of licensing so that makes them free. Free is always good. These types of subscribers can appear in the directory so that they are searchable via the auto attendant. Figure 1 shows the standard parameters that must be completed when configuring an Internet subscriber. When configuring the subscriber, you have to enter an e-mail address. Since no voicemail will actually be sent to this e-mail address, it does not have to be a real e-mail address. Typically I select a dummy e-mail box within the customer’s domain.

Internet Subscriber Properties

Figure 1

Since the customer didn’t want this phone to receive voicemail, we simply created Internet subscribers and configure After greeting action to Send to caller to: Call handler. This way, if somebody searched for the user in the directory they would find them select that user and the phone would ring if nobody answered the phone and a message would play saying, “Sorry, nobody is currently able to take your call.” Also be sure to configure this so that the call would then be sent to the top of the auto attendant. Figure 2 shows how this would be configured on the greetings page of that subscriber.

Greeting Settings

Figure 2

So there you have it. You can now add users and phones to the auto attendant within Unity without having to use of a voicemail license.


November 20, 2009  5:11 PM

Understanding Cisco Unity Networking



Posted by: Dave Bateman
AMIS, Cisco, Unity, Unity Networking, VPIM

From time to time I will be meeting with a client that is considering a Unity implementation. One common concern is how they will integrate it in with their existing voicemail systems. Often they have systems spread across the country and are not ready to replace all of them. While this is a valid concern, it is not a problem. Unity has the ability to integrate with a number of different voicemail systems. This article will offer an overview of four types of Unity networking.

The first is called Digital networking. This type of networking is not used to interrogate Unity with another vender’s voicemail, but rather to connect multiple Unity servers together. One requirement of Digital networking is that all the Unity servers be part of the same Active Directory (AD). Since all the Unity servers use the same AD, there really isn’t much Unity has to do to make this work. Unity leverages AD to provide Digital networking. Once Digital networking is implemented, the users on any Unity server can forward and reply to messages to a user on any of the servers. To the users they all feel as if they are on a single voicemail system.

When integrating with a voicemail system from another vender, you will most likely use Audio Messaging Interchange Specification (AMIS) or Voice Profile for Internet Mail (VPIM). They are similar in that they allow you to integrate with other voicemail systems but how they do it is quite different. AMIS uses analog telephone lines to communicate with the other voicemail system (figure 1). The simplest way to explain this is that Unity calls the other voicemail system and plays the message which the other system records and delivers to the user’s voicemail box. Since Unity has to play the message, the delivery will take at least as long as the message is. For example, if the message is 30 seconds, it will take 30 seconds to play the message plus time for the setup and tear down of the call.

AMIS Diagram

Figure 1

VPIM on the other hand uses IP as its transport mechanism. This, of course, requires that the systems be connected via some type of IP network (figure 2). VPIM works very similar to the way email works. VPIM messages are actually sent via Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) just as emails are. Since these messages are sent across an IP network, the time that it takes to deliver a message is dependent on the speed of the connection; but it is safe to say that it will always be quicker than AMIS.

VPIM Diagram

Figure 2

So why wouldn’t you just always use VPIM? That’s an easy one… because you can’t. Some voicemail systems don’t support VPIM. This would leave you going the AMIS route, assuming the other voicemail system supported that.

The last type of networking is called Bridge networking. This is used to connect Unity to an Octel system. This type of networking requires a separate server called a Bridge server (figure 3). Unity connects to the Bridge server via IP while the Bridge server connects to the Octel system via analog lines. The bridge server looks like another Octel server to the Octel network. Messages from the Unity server are delivered to the Bridge server, and the Bridge server delivers them to the Octel server.

Bridge Diagram

Figure 3

So now you know everything you ever wanted to know about Unity networking. OK, maybe not, but you should have a good understanding of the different types of networking that Unity supports.


November 18, 2009  6:41 PM

Cisco’s Got Its Game On



Posted by: Dave Bateman
Cisco, Edge Quest, Game, myPlanNet

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a new game form Cisco called MyPlanNet where you took on the role of a service provider CEO and tried to grow your company. If you thought it was odd that Cisco had entered the game market, you may be surprise to hear that is not the only game out by Cisco. This time you don’t have to play it on a PC. No, they haven’t created an Xbox,PS3 game or even a Wii game. I wonder what a Cisco Wii game would be like? I suppose you could use the Wii remote to plug the cable into the correct port. Now, doesn’t that sound like fun? OK, maybe not. The game I am talking about runs on the Iphone. Don’t worry; if you don’t have an Iphone, there is also a flash version of the game

This game is called Cisco Edge Quest 2. In this game you are the pilot of a ship and must guide the ship across five lanes of network traffic within an ASR 9000. Exactly why there is a ship in an ASR 9000 is never really explained. While you fly through the ASR 9000, you need to collect the green data packets and avoid the red blocks that represent network disruptions.

Edge Quest 2

The game has some interesting points of play to it. Since collecting data packets and avoiding red blocks can get pretty repetitive, damaged packets are also on the track. At first you may think you want to avoid the damaged packets but, if you pick one and then pick up a repair packet within a certain amount of time, you can earn bonuses. Along the way you can also pick up speed upgrades to increase the speed at which your network operates. I think my favorite aspect of this game is the fact that you pretty much maintain 99.999% up time to successfully complete a level. The geek in me found that pretty clever. The How to Play section of the game is done well and the narration certainly sounds like it is done by Patrick Stewart but I can not verify that.

Since this it is a free game, I can honestly say it is worth every penny you pay for it. This game isn’t going to give the Need for Speed series anything to worry about but, it is a fun little app. While the game is free, you may have to watch a short ad when playing the flash version. Go ahead and download it to you Iphone and give it a try. If you don’t have an Iphone, give the flash version a shot. I think I actually enjoyed the flash version a little more.


November 14, 2009  9:38 AM

Cisco 9900 Series Phones – Seeing What Others are Saying



Posted by: Dave Bateman
9951, 9971, Cisco, IP Phone, video phone

We have been hearing about desktop video phones for a long time. Some say that one day all calls will be video calls. Perhaps that is true, but I am still not sure I want someone to see what I look like when I answer the phone first thing in the morning (or at noon on a lazy Saturday). It reminds me of an old Jetson’s episode where Judy didn’t want the caller to see her so the phone popped up a photo of her all made up. When we get to the point of video calls being a standard, I think I am going to have to get one of those made. Well, in another push towards this end, Cisco has announced two new phones that could help bring this idea closer to reality. They have announced two very slick looking phones: the 9971 and the 9951.Cisco 9900 Series Phones

Photo Courtesy of Cisco Systems, Inc. Unauthorized use not permitted.

These phones boast a number of nice features. Here are peek at a few of them:

-640×480 Color Screen

The 9971 has a 5.6 inch screen while the 9951 sports a 5 inch screen

-Bluetooth 2.0

This is for Bluetooth headset support

-USB 2.0 Ports

Support USB headsets and the optional Cisco Unified Video Camera

-Gigabit Ethernet Port

Allows you to plug a PC into the back of the phone

These phones do look very nice but, like I said, I am not so sure I want all my calls to be video calls. I know that when I am in WebEx meetings and video streaming is enabled, no one ever seems to be sending video. The internet has seemed to lower people’s inhibitions, just go check out the status updates of your Facebook friends. I don’t know if people are ready for live video streaming of all their calls. I guess that might be why Cisco chose to design the phone so that the camera is an optional feature.


November 11, 2009  8:05 PM

MWI work around for Unity



Posted by: Dave Bateman
Cisco, MWI, Unity, Voicemail

In the last article I discussed how to setup multiple voicemail accounts for a single phone. In the example, the phone I used was an analog phone. While some analog phones have MWI indicators, with three voicemail accounts associated to this phone, it would not be possible to determine which voicemail account the message was in without logging into each until you found it. Another situation I came across a few weeks ago was a customer that had a small call center. They had configured a hunt group of nine people and set the last forward to go to a voicemail box. They wanted to know how they could set message waiting indication (MWI) up for everyone in the hunt group. Since the phone they were using had no available buttons, we could not set up the typical MWI solution. It needed to be setup so that everyone in the group was notified that there was a new message and would also know when someone had listened to it.

This solution is not really glamorous, but it gets the job done. In short, the standard MWI function will not work so we are going have to look elsewhere. We chose to use the message notification function of Unity. We setup the voicemail box for the hunt group to send an email to an email alias when a new message was received. The email alias was setup to send the message to the email account of everyone in the hunt group. Figure 1 shows how this configuration looks. You will see that we selected Text Pager 1 as the device since this uses an email address as the destination.

Message Notification Device Settings

Figure 1

This solved the problem of notifying people that there was a new message, but how are they going to know if someone listened to it or if the message just sat there for days? We configured what I call the “nag factor.” We configured message notification to resend the email every five minutes until it was listened to. This was done be setting the Repeat notification if there are still new messages after this many minutes parameter to five. We included the supervisor in this group so that she would know how long it was taking for someone to listen to the message. Figure 2 shows how this is configured.

Message Notification Device Settings

Figure 2

The solution we settled on could also be used to notify people in the situation of multiple voicemail boxes assigned to a single phone. In the case of the multiple voicemail boxes assigned to a single phone, you could do the same type of thing by setting up message notification for each voicemail account and have it send an email to the owner of the account.


November 6, 2009  6:16 PM

How to Configure Multiple Cisco Unity Voicemail Boxes for a Single Phone



Posted by: Dave Bateman

A customer of mine had a phone that was located in the warehouse and shared by three workers. With all of the moving equipment that was in the warehouse they didn’t want to take the chance of damaging a Cisco IP phone so they placed an analog phone out there that was hooked up to an analog gateway. Since three people shared the phone, they wanted to know if everyone could have their own voicemail box. This can be done fairly easy with Cisco Unity.

The first thing we did was create three mailboxes in Unity. This allowed us to assign a different extension for each worker. Each mailbox was configured with the call transfer setting set to ring the extension of the analog phone. For instance, the extension of the phone was 1012; we assign extension 1015, 1016 and 1017 to the workers. When someone called in through the auto attendant and entered any of the worker’s extensions, Unity would send the call to 1012. If no one answered, the voicemail was left in the mailboxes of the worker that the call was for. Figure 1 shows how this was configured on the Call Transfer page for extension 1015.

Call Transfer Settings

Figure 1

By tweaking a few other settings we were able to add a couple other cool features. The transfer type was set to Supervised Transfer. This allowed us to configure Unity to prompt the caller for their name. When the phone was answered, Unity would then say who the call was for, who the call was from and allow the worker to accept the call or send it to voicemail. These features were configured by checking the following boxes on the bottom of the Call Transfer Page:

  • Introduce
  • Confirm
  • Ask caller’s name

Figure 2 shows how these settings were configured on the Call Transfers page.

Call Transfer Settings

Figure 2

The result was better than the customer expected. By configuring it this way, anyone in the warehouse could answer the phone and hear who the call was for. They could then hand the phone to that person. If the person wasn’t there, they could press 2 and the call would be sent to voicemail.

One issue this configuration presents is that the standard Message Waiting Indictor (MWI) method won’t work. In my next post I will discuss ways to work around this issue.

There are a number of situations where this type of solution might come in handy. Hopefully, it will come in handy for you someday.


November 4, 2009  7:53 PM

Game Play the Cisco Way



Posted by: Dave Bateman
Cisco, Game, myciscocommunity, myPlanNet

Do your dreams include becoming the next CEO of Verizon or AT&T? Well if they do, then you had better get your service provider management game on. Don’t know where to start? Well how about with a game. That’s right, there is a new game out that lets you take on the role of a service provider CEO and grow your business from a simple dial up provider to one that can rival the likes of Comcast.

Now, before you run out to GameStop to try to buy this game, there is a few things you should know. The first is that you won’t find it at GameStop, the second is that you can’t buy it. That is because it is available for free. The name of the game is myPlanNet and is available for download from Cisco’s myCiscoCommunity website.

You can choose to start out as a landline, cable or cell provider. You even get to come up with a catchy name for you company and, if that isn’t enough excitement for you, you can also name the blocks of your city. I know, this all sounds like just too much fun right? Well, if you like sim games at all and you have a bit of a geek streak, then you might find yourself enjoying this game. I am not saying that I will be putting away Call of Duty anytime soon but I am finding it somewhat interesting.

The idea behind the game is to help players understand the challenges service providers face. Those that have been following the whole network neutrality debate may find it interesting. I’m not saying it will cause anyone to change their position, but it’s not a bad thing to walk a mile in the other man’s shoes.

At the end of the day, this is just a game. Go ahead and see what it feels like to inflict outrageous rates on your customers or see how much money you can make by selling services below cost. For fun you could charge the same fees you are actually paying and see how happy that makes your customers. I don’t think we will be seeing this title on any of the game consoles in the near (or distant) future, but if you find yourself with some extra time and want try to take over the service provider empire, give it a try.


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