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First look at CUCI-MOC

Cisco announced a new integration with OCS this week at VoiceCon. I got a chance to take a look at the new feature – it turns out to be a combination of a customized OCS Tab and an incarnation of the new Cisco extensible client framework. It’s called CUCIMOC (Cookie Mock – that name has gotta change!) Cisco Unified Communications Integtraion for MOC. It allows your MOC client to integrate directly to Cisco Unified Communications Manger 7.0 without CUPS.

The integration is pretty slick looking. You open up MOC client, and in the tab window below the main MOC screen, a set of phone controls sit. I don’t have a copy of the code, so you’ll have to use your imagination here:

So basically the tab in MOC talks directly to CallManager in one of two ways:

  1. To remotely control your Cisco IP phone – just like RCC used to.
  2. To initiate a cisco softphone session. By clicking on someone’s name, you pop up a cisco softphone which makes the call.

In either case, the CUPIMOC client reports "in a call" status back to OCS.

Licensing

I don’t have the word on licensing yet from Cisco, but I was told by a reputable source that the licensing will be included if you have the CUWL license bundle.

Since this is a client-side plug-in only, it will not require any additional licensing from MS: you only need the OCS Standard CAL. This is a shift from the RCC model where you need both the CUPS server/licensing from Cisco AND the OCS ECAL from MS. I talked to a few people at the show and they agreed that this was a pretty much a clever attempt by Cisco to thwart the use of RCC as a way to require the ECAL.

Interop and Support

The guy at the Cisco booth was really helpful (he did eye my "media" badge suspiciously and was curious about all my MS questions!!) when I asked about interoperabiliy. First, this will be supported by Cisco for CallManager 7.x, as well as 6.x.

Second, as I mentioned earlier, this does not require CUPS. Which is huge. I’ve written so many blogs about CUPS integration that, well, any time you have to write that many blogs about getting something to work is not a good sign. I’ve honestly just never liked anything about CUPS.

As for the OCS side, Cisco wasn’t able to test it with R2 because the dev cycles on R2 and CUCI-MOC were not aligned (whaddya expect!?!). But Cisco will support in the next rev.

MS, on the otherhand, is not treating this as a supported integration, (as opposed to the OCS-Cisco Direct SIP integration – which Microsoft does support). This is essentially a client plugin, written by Cisco, and will be treated like any other 3rd party app: the person who writes it supports it. i.e. "don’t call us if it doesn’t work" – which is exactly the right approach to take.

I talked to a few dudes in Redmond about this a couple days ago. None of them had a chance to see it in advance, so they didn’t have any real opinions on it. I’m going to try to circle back with them and see what their thoughts are now that CUPIMOC is public news. But clearly this is a Cisco product and is not a part of the OCS roadmap as far as MS is concerned.

My take

I never was a big fan of the OCS – CUPS integration. It was too complex. If a customer currently has both CUCM and OCS, this plugin may be a better way to do the integration. It’s client side, and you just have Cisco on the hook for support, not Cisco and MS. ("when everyone’s responsible, no one’s responsible").

This is Cisco’s app, written at least partially with the OCS SDK, and hey – that’s what the SDK is for. People should be using it to write apps that are useful to them. And this frees up MS from having to support something they didn’t write – even better!

Bottom line: I like the idea of using it for RCC with exisiting CUCM deployments.

I don’t like the idea, though, as a replacement for OCS enterprise voice.

I believe a lot more strongly in the OCS voice story than the Cisco one right now. And frankly, using this approach requires something to the effect of two clients on the desktop to do the job that OCS can pretty well do on it’s own.

That said, I really do like the initiative from Cisco. The more they focus on software solutions, the better they position themselves.

And I’ll need to test it out (it’s not available to the public yet) to determine:

  • How easy is it to configure
  • How reliable is it
  • How is the user experience
  • How much it will cost

But for now- I’m just glad that customers don’t need to buy CUPS for presence / RCC integration.

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