Unity with Exchange 12

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Apr 25th, 2006
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As I am sure you know Microsoft is incorporating UM into Exchange 12. We are an Exchange shop and will most likely migrate to that when it is released. If we purchase Cisco Unity, what sort of integration and additional features should we expect incorporating Unity with Exchange? The reason I ask is I am starting to wonder what the benefit of purchasing Unity is if our mail system will be able to handle VM, faxes, PIM, and Text-to-Speech within a year or so anyways and it is considerably less expensive to upgrade. What value-add do we get? Does Cisco have any announcements or upcoming releases of Unity that will add more features and capabilities?

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mloraditch Tue, 04/25/2006 - 13:19
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I am looking for info on this as well. My Exchange Software Assurance is much cheaper than my Unity Maintenance renewal. From what I have heard people already have CM working with the e12 beta and if it works, it will save me money especially considering I am on VM only with Unity right now.

Ginger Dillon Tue, 04/25/2006 - 14:38
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Hi -

We met with Microsoft system engineers last week to review the Exchange 12 roadmap. Since I support Unity, I was interested to see what was coming with Exchange 12. This is what I captured from my notes: Exchange 12 will have multiple server roles, two of which will be Unified Messaging and Speech Server (for IVR and speech recognition for Outlook Voice Access). The UM implementation is email with a WMA file attached. There will be a "Play on phone" feature. The PBX connection is a voice gateway - they are getting us the list of supported devices. I have not seen enough detailed information to be able to evaluate this as a true voicemail integration with phone systems (i.e. easy message access or MWI trigger). Inbound fax only, no outbound. Lastly, our Exchange environment relies heavily on organizational forms, public folders, and pst files (unfortunately). Microsoft is moving public folders to SharePoint Services, so there may be no public folders "possibly" by Exchange 14. SharePoint 2007 - no folder replication yet, something else we depend upon. No routing groups in Exchange 12, it uses AD sites. All this means we are going to have to aggressively plan for our own migration from Exchange 2003. Sounds like a lot of new features for sure! And when the time comes, we'll test in our AD lab as always to make sure Unity unified messaging is not adversely affected.

Ginger

mportoni Wed, 04/26/2006 - 10:54
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We have started initial testing with Exchange 12 to ensure Unity compatibility and will plan for qualification of Exchange 12 for use as a Unity message store when the product is released. With respect to Exhange 12 as a potential Unity UM replacement, Cisco Unity is a market leading messaging product that has been developed and improved over the course of the last decade. We will continue to make a significant investment in improving Cisco Unity functionality moving forward. Although MS will have a product available that performs similar funtionality available at some point in the next several years, we feel that Cisco Unity will continue to provide our enterprise customers with a "Best in Class" level of functionality and reliability required to maximize productivity in organizations where messaging is a business critical productivity tool. When MS has a generally available product in the marketplace, we will be able to provide more clarity on the relative merits of a Cisco solution relative to Exchange 12 capabilities.

Ginger Dillon Wed, 10/04/2006 - 13:10
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Hi Jim -

Do you have a lab environment available to test (i.e separate forest)? If not, recall that Cisco supports Microsoft service packs, new versions etc. within 60-days of general availability. Remember when Exchange 2003 SP1 caused grief for Unity 4.0(3)-(4) sites until a modified permissions wizard was made available? We will be testing in a lab environment soon, using our production 4.2(1) Unity. Also, applying schema updates to a lab forest before doing in your production environment is always a safe bet!

Sincerely,

Ginger

mportoni Wed, 10/04/2006 - 14:56
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I'll stick to me previous reply on this thread:


"With respect to Exhange 12 as a potential Unity UM replacement, Cisco Unity is a market leading messaging product that has been developed and improved over the course of the last decade. We will continue to make a significant investment in improving Cisco Unity functionality moving forward. Although MS will have a product available that performs similar funtionality available at some point in the next year, we feel that Cisco Unity will continue to provide our enterprise customers with a "Best in Class" level of functionality and reliability required to maximize productivity in organizations where messaging is a business critical productivity tool. When MS has a generally available product in the marketplace, we will be able to provide more clarity on the relative merits of a Cisco solution relative to Exchange 2007 capabilities."


Ginger Dillon Thu, 10/05/2006 - 07:09
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Same for me too - Just doing due diligence to ensure Unity's performance and functionality is not compromised by bringing in an Exchange 2007 server or schema updates into our production forest.

Ginger

terencekam Fri, 01/05/2007 - 14:38
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Hi,


I hear you've been working with a test lab using Unity 4.2 and exchange 2007. Any updates with this?


Any chance that you'll consider using the UM that comes with exchange 2007 as mentioned in the previous posts? I got off the phone with cisco and he hasn't even heard of unity 5.0. This looks like a big hurdle.

lindborg Fri, 01/05/2007 - 14:50
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Not sure who you were talking with but 5.0 has been in the pipeline for a while and is in EFT (has been for a bit). A number of new items in here including support for Exchange 2007, ASR features, updated phone apps (supported message monitor, visual message locator on IP phones), transcription service option, new custom key map options (ability to screen out items in the setup menu you don't like for instance), etc...


The Unity team has been banging away at 2007 support - trust me.

lindborg Tue, 01/09/2007 - 10:18
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I'm assuming you're a mixed site and Unity is not connected directly to the 2007 server, right? I'd be real suprised if you have Unity connected directly to 2007 and have it working since all the message access libraries have changed...

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