– Tim Deem, Sr. Network Consultant
The distinction between Unified Messaging and Integrated Messaging in Cisco’s voice mail alternatives has been a topic of discussion since their inclusion in the Cisco Unity and Cisco Unity Connection products’ release.
In our experience, the primary distinction and decision point for any client considering both, boils down to the perceived benefit regarding the inclusion of the voice mail message in a user’s primary email inbox as opposed to the creation of a second mailbox via their email client.
Unified Messaging: voice mail messages are contained within the same email inbox as the end user’s email
Integrated Messaging: notifications are sent to the primary email inbox and the voice mail messages are accessible via the same email client but messaging is accomplished through the creation of a separate mailbox which contains the actual messages
With the release of Cisco Unity Connection 8.5, this critically important distinction is no longer a differentiator since it allows the full integration of an end user’s email inbox and their voice mail messages.
One significant difference does still exist, however, in the methods by which these two platforms accomplish this feat. Cisco Unity, in achieving Unified Messaging, requires the complete redirection of the entire voice mail message store to the email server; whereas Cisco Unity Connection achieves this instead by synchronizing the two servers at an individual user level. An end user of Unity Connection who is granted the Unified Messaging feature has a copy of his voice mail messages stored on the email server while the original remains on the UC server. As the end user acts upon the message, whether via their email client or their phone, the two systems synchronize the status and their clients (for example: their email client or phone) immediately reflect that status change.
We believe this single additional feature alone is worth the inclusion, upgrade or migration to the Unity Connection 8.5 platform. However, as additional incentive, Cisco has also added several other features within the deployment of Unity Connection’s Unified Messaging.
These features include:
- Text-to-speech (TTS) access to Exchange email
- Access to Exchange calendars, which allows users to do meeting-related tasks by phone (for example, hear a list of upcoming meetings, or accept or decline meeting invitations)
- Access to Exchange contacts, which allows users to import Exchange contacts and use the contact information in personal call transfer rules and when placing outgoing calls by using voice commands
- Notification of upcoming Cisco Unified Meeting Place meetings on the phone (Meeting Place server required)
- Scheduling and joining of Meeting Place meetings (Meeting Place server required)
- Transcription of Connection voice messages (Speech View)