Unity Connection with Unified Messaging? Where will Unity fit in?


As it stands, Cisco supports Exchange 2010 with Unity 7x and Unity 5x; however, requirements include loading a specific ES (based on the version of Unity) and a MAPI patch.  In fact, from my activity on the NetPro forums it would appear that some users still have some integration issues (particularly with Unity 5x).  To be fair, I cannot say whether those issues are caused by customers jumping into the integration without being fully prepared or if there are still some kinks to be worked out on the integration side.  I suspect that more than a fair share of issues can be traced to lack of preparation but I suspect there may be a few kinks as well.

So, I’ve had a feeling for a while that “now” (or very soon, at the least) may well be the time for the future of UM to begin.  The Unity Connection product, for all it’s great features, has always lacked one key feature to push the future into the present.  Of course, that feature is true Unified Messaging.  Personally, I have been waiting to hear that a new version of Unity Connection would provide UM capabilities in addition to the voicemail only and Integrated Messaging features it provides today.  From an operational perspective, the UM integration may not come without some complexity but it would hopefully be simplified when compared to Cisco Unity which is fully integrated into and dependent upon Active Directory and Exchange.  This is pure speculation (but hey, sometimes that’s what blogs are for) on my part but it seems as if there are a relative few UC Engineers that are comfortable with integrating and maintaining Cisco Unity.  Of those relative few, there are a small minority of UC Engineers that seem to “really get it”.  A Cisco Unity UM integration is a lot more complex than it seems on the surface.  All you have to do is look at all of the services that run on a Unity server and then research to find out what each service actually does.  Without diving too deeply, I can think of many reasons why a Unity Connection product that adds UM capabilities would be more than simply compelling to customers (existing and new)…in fact, it could be a “game changer” (at least within the Cisco competitive space).

Is the future on the way?  The following information was released on the NetPro forums which are publicly available so; with that as my disclaimer, I’ll assume that this is public knowledge that can be freely shared.  Here is a link to the actual post:


Without further ado, allow me to summarize:

A Cisco Unity Connection 8.5 Early Field Trial (EFT) is targeted to begin in August.  Some of the primary features noted for this release are:

  • Single Inbox (UM w/Exchange Server 2003 via WebDav, Exchange Server 2007 and 2010 via EWS, and Cisco WebEx Mail)
  • New ViewMail for Outlook form (Outlook 2007 and 2010)
  • UM Calendaring for Exchange 2010

Of course, there are other features noted as well but the first bullet is quite a statement.  It certainly begs the question(s):

Is this the future of Cisco’s UM solution?

Where does Unity fit in if Unity Connection can add UM to its feature list?

Does Unity have a place in the future of UM?

How does or should this affect your sales strategy for potential Cisco UM customers?

So, what do I think?  I think I’m going to reserve any commentary for the moment because I’m more of a “when I see it, I’ll believe it” type of guy.  However, I think I may have just heard a hammer…but the nail has yet to be seen.



3 responses to “Unity Connection with Unified Messaging? Where will Unity fit in?

  1. Hi David, just wanted to comment on your Unity Connection presentations, very interesting and helpful to me. Do you have any insight or thoughts on the yet to be released 8.5 version scheduled for Q4 with Cisco? Apparently this version will "unify" the connection experience with Exchange, and my customer (35,000 users) wants us to move from Unity to Connection, as they move to a BPOS environment with their Microsoft services. This, after spending years deploying Unity in their AD envt… Your comments about microsoft and voice skill sets differing nailed my sentiments exactly!

  2. Hi David, great info and great work thank you! Do you know if Cisco is planning to offer a CUC UM solution for Lotus Domino environments?

  3. There is a 3rd-party vendor called Donoma Software that may be of interest to you. I have no experience with the product but take a look at Donoma Unify for Lotus Notes.

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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

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Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.