Cisco Unity vs. Other Voice Mail Systems

My company is currently deciding between VoIP systems from Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, and Mitel. (Yes, this has been going on for a while and it will continue until we make up our minds. )

I'm curious to find out how Unity compares with other VM systems. I've heard some say that Unity is a good product, but I've heard a few others say that it's an awful piece of trash compared to "real" voice mail or messaging systems.

Any thoughts?

Thanks, John

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"jneiberger@ others say that it's an awful piece of trash compared to "real" voice

You might also take into consideration, that there are independend UMS system vendors, which will also run in the Cisco VoIP-environment, so you are really not "stuck" with Unity there.

Our company has developed a middleware-solution which allows UMS-applications which were developed for TDM-networks, to run seamless in the VoIP-environment (Cisco and Avaya for example).

I don't know if you have the requirement of fax-support, but this would also work out there...


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Tobias Erichsen

Only my personal opinions here John, but we presently have 3 different systems, Unity among them, so I do feel qualified to comment. On a scale of 1~10, with 10 being best, I would personally rank Unity about a 6, Mitel's 'in-the-skins' flavor of Express Messenger somewhere between a 6 and a 7, and the Octel (Avaya) Overture 250/350 product around 8½ to 9. The Octel would inarguably be close to being a solid 10 if it offered unified messaging. I understand now there's an aftermarket software product that comes very close to emulating this feature for the Octel. Jungle Drums are strongly suggesting we may hear some announcement later this year about possible End Of Sale. R&D and software development already ended a couple (or more) years ago. What a shame.

For me I think the big strike against Unity is the fact that it's based on a Microsoft Windows Server platform. This may well be the future standard for all new telecom technology coming down the pike, but not on my watch you won't.

Mitel's Express Messenger (all iterations of it) I find suffers from occasional 'talk-off' which in this day and age of modern technology is inexcusable.

Avaya's "Octel Overture" line, (Overture 250 and 350) running Aria rls 3.x software, although becoming a little long in the tooth, is bulletproof. I have 3 Overtures in operation and they just plain work and keep on working day after day, year after year. The ripoff is their maintenance agreement. Very expensive and you're very unlikely to ever need it.

Just my own personal 2¢ worth.

In article "jneiberger@others say that it's an awful piece of trash compared to "real" voice

Reply to
Mitel Lurker <wdg

Thanks for your response, that's very useful information. I share a disdain for Microsoft Windows. I certainly wish Cisco had embraced Linux, at least, but I just don't think they're going to move that direction any time soon.

Since you have so much experience with multiple vendors, I will pose a question to you that I posed to someone else in a similar position. Let's say that you were starting your own business and you immediately had a number of brand new sites that needed phone systems that needed to be networked together. Let's assume that you're considering systems from Cisco, Mitel, and Avaya, and let's throw in Nortel if you have any experience with them.

If, magically, the cost of each solution came out to about the same amount, which solution would you most likely pick for your own business?

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In article "jneiberger@disdain for Microsoft Windows. I certainly wish Cisco had embraced

It certainly would have to be magic because there's no way Cisco's TCO could ever be brought in line to be competitive. Anyway since you asked and hypothetically assuming otherwise equal costs I'd vote for Cisco for the data network and Mitel for the voip piece.

No denying Cisco can't be beat for data networking know how, but are relative newcomers in the voice business, having only been in that side of the business a few short years and even acquired that piece in a takeover/merger from a small company few had ever before heard of. I think you'll find there's more bang for your buck and better suite of voice features in the Mitel. Mitel has been in the voice business since the early 1980s and the fellows who started that company came from AT&T (pre-divestiture). It so happens the Nortel Meridian uses a DX matrix chip designed & built for them by Mitel Semiconductor (prior to Mitel spinning off that segment of their business). Not many people know that little tidbit.

Cisco's voice deal is too damned expensive when the gloves come off and you're looking at your total cost of ownership. There's no way they could ever price match. They might cut you a deal in order to land the sale, but a year into it and I think you'll find your TCO is hemorrhaging compared to any of your other alternatives, including Nortel. Remember Cisco's warranty is 90 days whereas Mitel is 1 yr. Of course Cisco will be only too happy to sell you a Smartnet contract on it all (adding to your TCO). Cisco's Call Manager is also not a "PBX" in the literal sense, rather it is an assortment of software applications running under SQL on a Win2K server. I believe Cisco's 911 application may require an additional server. The server O/S for the call manager, Unity, 911 and all other pieces is a Cisco proprietary hack, meaning you'll have to get your critical patches and O/S service packs from Cisco. Look at the balance of any Cisco data network and you'll see they also like to EOL their hardware at the 5-yr point. No legacy PBX vendor has ever done that.

Last year Cisco was rumored to have a *NIX version of their Call Mgr in the works, but I never heard whether it was going to be Unix, Linux or for that matter, BSD, nor has there been anything but the rumor and only then from one source. Mitel's 3300 runs on VXWorks from Wind River Systems and their underlying call control is the exact same SX2000 call control that's been running all of their big TDM systems for years.

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Mitel Lurker <wdg

"Look at the balance of any Cisco data network and you'll see they also like to EOL their hardware at the 5-yr point. No legacy PBX vendor has ever done that."

This is true, but if you're data network is Cisco, you're replacing your routers every 3-5 years anyway. :) You also may have SmartNET on them so it's not really an additional expense specifically related to their VoIP solution.

I do share your concerns about their feature set in Call Manager. Are you aware of any specific features that are missing from Call Manager

4.0 or 4.1 that people who are used to real PBXs might want?

Thanks! John

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In article "jneiberger@hardware

but I'm -not- replacing the pbx every 5 nor even every 10 years, nor am I anxious to start. It's a phone system for Chrissakes. I'm not against merging some technologies here, but the phone system also has to work. When the balloon goes up my ass is going to be in a sling if by some coincidence our phones are down too. My users are accustomed to their phones -always- working. If a hurricane comes through here and flattens our corporate office, you better darn well bet that getting the phones working again is priority-one ahead of everything else (and I have that one in writing).

It is, because it's a lot of additional hardware and software with addt'l contract costs. Every component and piece of software that goes into a Cisco voice system is going to add to the incremental cost of the Smartnet contract. If it doesn't then it's not covered.

Their set-to-set paging is abysmal and last I heard they still did not have a central site attendant console capable of handling thousands of directory listings. With the size and complexity of what you're planning I would think attendant consoles would be de rigueur.

Common everyday MACS (moves/adds and changes) on the CM are a freaking nightmare to administer. Even things like simple key appearance changes take numerous steps and most then require rebooting the instrument. How absurd. A simple thing like changing a user's last name is burdensome. Believe it or not, it's far worse than navigating the CLI of an M1 to perform the same task. In peak activity periods we'll perform upwards of

400 MACS per month, all performed by one non-exempt individual working an 8-hr shift without incurring 5 minutes of overtime. We'd have to triple our staff to do that many on the CM.

Number of available line key appearances are extremely limited without purchasing an alongside adjunct device. I don't know about you but with corporate downsizing in recent years we no longer have the luxury of a

1-to-1 or even 2-to-1 relationship between managers and their admins, not even in the executive wing. Todays admins are answering calls for 3~4 managers and providing backup coverage for each other, requiring cost effective instruments with minimum 12~14 line key appearances and this is the rule, not merely an abberation or exception.

Can the Cisco give an Admin in Denver a busy lamp and line key appearance of a manager in Green Mountain Falls or Glenwood Springs? A Mitel can.

Reply to
Mitel Lurker <wdg

Do the math sometime on what it costs to purchase new hardware with it's warranties versus the maintenance contracts on the the older stuff. You'll often find the new equipment is more cost effective. Due not only to the costs being a wash but also on depreciation. If you've never looked at the real numbers you're probably wasting more money that you might realize.

Precisely the sort of reason to be using system that can be supported by a wide range of competent professionals. Not just some collection of pc-based hacks.

Yes, it often seems genuine PBX vendors like Mitel have a much better grip on the complex things real world situations demand everyday.

Reply to

"jneiberger@ hardware

FWIW you normally get 5 years support after EOL on cisco "stuff" - not saying this is what you want, but it isnt quite as bad as the picture you are painting.

5 year cycle is fair for a new "greenfield" choice, but the stuff does tend to have a longer working life.

we still run lots of cisco 7513s in the telco network - 10 years or more old router design, and the cards are still in production. Mind you, the newer

10ks we are also using are a lot better, cost less, higher thruput and so on.

the flip side to technology improvements is that when / if you change, then you get improvements.

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Mitel sells the Nupoint voicemail system that currently uses QNX as an operating system but is being migrated to Linux.

"jneiberger@ disdain for Microsoft Windows. I certainly wish Cisco had embraced

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CallManager 5 (due out in February 2006) is a Red Hat Enterprise appliance. All configuration is done through a web browser, and the shell is completely locked down.

And it is bloody fast.


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No surprise there. Everything about Linux is fast compared to its MS counterpart running on the same platform.

And the upgrade path is.... ? and will cost ..... ? The info I've heard was that a database conversion utility to transition the existing MS-based CM users is in the works for 5.1 (not 5.0) but might require new hardware. Any truth to this?

No doubt this is a step in the right direction for Cisco. I'm sure they've taken quite a beating from those who are loathe to put their phone system on anything Microsoft. However, I don't think I'd want jump on board with release n.0 of anything. We retail customers don't always appreciate the anomalies discovered in a "wide beta" as much as those whose system was full or partially comp'd to them. >>smile

Reply to
Mitel Lurker <wdg

"Jonathan" schrieb im Newsbeitrag news:

You don't happen to know whether this new version actually supports supplementary services like call-transfer etc. for SIP (or possibly H.323) - do you?


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Tobias Erichsen Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.