Answer to the Unified Communications question.
Well, I just finished moving all of my blog posts from my old site to this Space and I realized that I never got around to answering the question posed in my last post. Can Office Communications Server 2007 and Cisco Unified Communications Manager be made to place nice for a true UC experience? The answer in a word is…Maybe, err, Kinda, Somewhat. Basically what we have found through doing this implementation is that there is some great functionality to be gained by putting these systems together, but it is neither simple nor complete when finished.
The first thing we learned the hard way, is that you have to have your dial plans set up perfectly before attempting to complete this integration. I’m not too proud to admit that we were not in a perfect position prior to our attempt at UC. This was not due to a lack of effort, but was in fact due to to amount of complexity that comes from being in a 918 area code as well as dialing 9 to get an outside number, start adding in 911 and a few other factors and you can start to see why our route plans were large and unwieldy from the start. This can cause issues because while you can normalize your outbound numbers with OCS when making a call, you cannot do the same on inbound calls so call ID becomes a real headache.
Some of these issues were mitigated at least to some extent not too long after we did our integration when Microsoft released an update for OCS that allows creating a direct trunk from OCS to CUCM without need of an intermediary of some type, but it still remains an issue until (hopefully) the next release of Call Manager includes support for call forking.
Call forking brings up the other part of why I say it works “kinda”. Until call forking is supported by the VOIP system, all Microsoft Office Communicator (MOC) can really do is act as an extension of your hand touching your phone. You can use MOC to take your phone off the hook and place a call, but the call still goes by way of the phone, not via MOC. Once Cisco supports call forking, then MOC can truly be an extension of your VOIP system so that you can place and receive calls from your PC. THAT is when I will be able to truly answer “Yes” the the UC question.