Cisco Unity Overview

Cisco Unity is a voice messaging system that does voice mail, Unified Messaging, and fax integration. Cisco Unity also has text to speech (TTS) capabilities that allow e-mail and faxes (requires third-party fax server) to be listened to over the telephone. Voice messages can be checked over e-mail with a Unified Messaging license on Cisco Unity.

Cisco Unity integrates with IBM Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook e-mail clients to create a unified inbox. A unified inbox consists of e-mail, voice messaging, and fax in one e-mail inbox. Cisco Unity uses IBM Lotus Domino or Microsoft Exchange as a message store and directory services to unify system administration. The Microsoft SQL Server database is used to store all Unity configuration information (information store). Figure 18-1 illustrates the Cisco Unity integration capabilities.

Figure 18-1 Unity Overview

Figure 18-1 Unity Overview



Cisco Unity Directory




CUCM Set Forwarding Attributes

Voice Mail


Cisco Unity Directory

Cisco Unity

Fax Server

Fax Server

Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino Server

Message Store


Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino Server

Message Store



Outlook or Notes


User GUI

Cisco Unity runs on either a Microsoft Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 server platform. Cisco Unity is the Unified Messaging component within the Cisco family of Cisco Unified Communications system offerings. Cisco Unity integrates with CUCM natively through SCCP, but various third-party integrations are supported, too. Cisco Unity can integrate with several traditional circuit-switched phone systems. When the telephone network is ready to transition to VoIP, Cisco Unity allows migration in stages, by setting up dualswitch integration with both the circuit-switched phone system and CUCM. Cisco Unity Connection is a voice-mail and integrated messaging platform that runs on a hardened Linux appliance. Cisco Unity Express is a voice-mail-only platform that runs on a router in a network module or flash module. Neither Cisco Unity Connection nor Cisco Unity Express are covered in this book.

Cisco Unity includes the following features:

■ Intelligent Voice Mail: The Cisco Unity voice messaging capabilities allow subscribers to listen to their messages, send voice messages to other subscribers, and customize settings such as personal greetings. Cisco Unity supports multiple automated attendants, which serve as electronic receptionists that answer and route incoming calls.

■ Cisco Unity System Administrator: The system administrator access to Cisco Unity server occurs via a standard web browser. The Cisco Unity System Administrator (SA) is used to create, modify, or delete subscriber accounts; configure messaging options; assign classes of service; record greetings; and run reports.

■ Cisco Personal Communications Assistant: The Cisco Personal Communications Assistant (PCA) is a website that subscribers use to access the Cisco Unity Assistant and the Cisco Unity Inbox.

■ Cisco Unity Assistant: The Cisco Unity Assistant is a website that enables subscribers to customize mailbox settings, including recorded greetings and message-delivery options. In versions of Unity earlier than 3.1, the Cisco Unity Assistant was known as the ActiveAssistant.

■ ViewMail for Outlook: ViewMail for Outlook (VMO) lets subscribers listen to voice messages from their Outlook inboxes by using common audio controls (play, stop, rewind, fast forward).

■ ViewMail for Notes: ViewMail for Notes (VMN) lets subscribers listen to voice messages from their IBM Lotus Notes inbox by using common audio controls (play, stop, rewind, fast forward).

■ Cisco Unity Inbox: The Cisco Unity Inbox is a part of Unity Assistant that lets subscribers listen to, compose, reply to, forward, and delete voice messages. Before Unity version 3.1, the Cisco Unity Inbox was known as Cisco Unity Visual Messaging Interface.

■ Multiple Languages: With multiple languages installed, users can change the language in which Cisco Unity plays system prompts to subscribers and callers. Users can also choose one or more languages with which to display the Cisco Unity Administrator pages and the Help files.

■ Text to Speech: The Text to Speech feature enables users to listen to their e-mail over the phone. Cisco Unity reads the text portion of e-mail messages and provides additional information such as the name of the sender (subscribers only) and the time and date that the message was sent.

■ Third-Party Fax: Cisco Unity supports fax servers that have dedicated fax lines set up to the fax ports on the fax server. When a third-party fax server is used with Cisco Unity, the administration of the fax server is controlled by the fax server software.

You can find a list of supported fax servers for use with Cisco Unity in Cisco Unity System Requirements, Supported Hardware and Software, available on at guides_list.html.

■ Digital Networking: The Digital Networking feature enables subscribers to send and receive voice messages between Cisco Unity servers at different locations.

■ AMIS Support: Cisco Unity supports the Audio Messaging Interchange Specification (AMIS) protocol, which provides an analog mechanism for transferring voice messages between different voice messaging systems.

You can find a list of voice messaging systems that Cisco Unity can exchange AMIS voice messages with in Cisco Unity System Requirements, Supported Hardware and Software, available on at voicesw/ps2237/prod_pre_installation_guides_list.html.

■ Cisco Unity Bridge: The Cisco Unity Bridge acts as a networking gateway between Cisco Unity and an Octel system on an Octel analog network. With the Cisco Unity Bridge, subscribers can send messages to and receive messages from Octel users.

■ Enhanced Failover: Failover is a feature that provides a simple redundancy, allowing voice messaging functions to continue if the Cisco Unity server fails or when users need to perform maintenance. To set up failover, Cisco Unity should be installed and configured on two servers: a primary server and a secondary server. If the primary server fails or if the Cisco Unity service on the primary server stops, the secondary Cisco Unity server automatically starts performing Unity operations.

■ VPIM Networking: Cisco Unity supports the Voice Profile for Internet Mail (VPIM) protocol, which allows voice messaging systems to exchange voice, fax, and text messages over any TCP/IP network. VPIM is based on the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) protocols. VPIM Networking is a licensed feature. If your organization has multiple Cisco Unity servers networked together, only one server needs to be licensed and configured for VPIM Networking. The Cisco Unity server configured for VPIM Networking is referred to as the bridgehead server.

New features in Cisco Unity 5.0 include the following:

■ Secure messaging: Encryption of voice-mail messages increases system security, allowing system administrators to enforce voice-mail retention policies and prevent the compromise of voice messages with proprietary or confidential content forwarded to someone outside the enterprise.

■ Message Monitor: Voice-mail messages can be screened and intercepted as they are being recorded.

■ Interrupted session recovery: Unity can automatically return to in-progress message composition or playback if a session ends prematurely. For example, a user might hang up a phone while in the middle of listening to a long voice mail; interrupted session recovery allows the user to hear the rest of the voice mail at another time.

■ Cisco Unity Phone view: Users can access their voice-mail inbox through the IP phone interface. They can use the message locator to view the voice-mail message queue or jump to a particular message in their inbox, view message header details, and play selected messages using softkeys on the IP phone.

■ Speech access: Speech access allows the use of voice commands (speech recognition) to navigate menus and manage voice-mail messages.

■ Microsoft Exchange 2007 support: Microsoft Exchange 2007 can be used with Cisco Unity as a Unified Messaging solution in Unity 5.0. Earlier versions of Unity did not support Microsoft Exchange 2007.

■ Microsoft Windows Vista support: The ViewMail for Outlook and ViewMail for Notes clients are supported for Microsoft Windows Vista in Cisco Unity 5.0.

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