Welcome to the Cisco Networking Professionals Ask the Expert conversation. This is an opportunity to discuss Cisco MeetingPlace with the Cisco expert Glenn Inn. Glenn is a Product Development manager in the Rich-Media Communications Business Unit at Cisco Systems, Inc. Glenn joined Cisco through the recent acquisition of Latitude Communications in January 2004. Glenns background is in circuit/system design and programming in languages ranging from assembly to C/C++. As employee number 2 from Latitude, he brings much history and understanding of the MeetingPlace rich-media communications business solution. Remember to use the rating system to let Glenn know if you have received an adequate response.
Glenn might not be able to answer each question due to the volume expected during this event. Our moderators will post many of the unanswered questions in other discussion forums shortly after the event. This event lasts through April 23. Visit this forum often to view responses to your questions and the questions of other community members.
I am an unfortunate victim of Cisco Conference Connection going end of sale due to the Latitude aquisition. I say unfortunate victim due to the fact that I was waiting for a feature in the next release of CCC that would allow individual callers to mute their own inbound audio. The next version was cancelled due to the aquisition. I am now in the posistion of either having to choose another vendor for a software conferencing bridge or pay approx. 5 times as much as the cost of CCC to get into the audio-only portion of MeetingPlace, which of course, has the feature I need. My question for you is what does the audio-only portion of MeetingPlace offer that justifies the extreme cost difference? Especially since I only need this one feature. I know it is a totally different product but other vendors are offering software conferencing bridges for considerably less. I have had a demo through my local account reps and seen what the full blown MeetingPlace can do with Web Conferencing etc and it is a great product but I only need the audio portion.
Thanks in advance!
As the person here in the MeetingPlace RCBU who has
the responsibility for end-user effectiveness, I fully
understand your situation. We have terms like Killer App,
and Killer Feature. And I have to say, your situation
is one that desperately calls for Killer Feature, like:
Kill my inbound audio because the background noise
is making my conference very ineffective.
Before I answer your question about cost justification,
let me give you one of the common MeetingPlace sayings:
"Pound Five". For veteran MeetingPlace users, we
hear this all the time. Pressing Pound then Five on
your keypad mutes (or un-mutes) your inbound audio. Our
installed base has just gotten used to asking callers
on noisy lines to "Pound Five". It's sort of become
a common saying, like "Jello", or "Kleenex" or "Would
you like some Grey Poupon".
But seriously, to answer your question about cost justification.
It appears that Catalyst relies upon effective audio-only
meetings. As such, voice quality is your only metric, and
so I have to assume its quality is paramount.
CCC is a fine product, but at the lowest level, MeetingPlace
voice processing has greater performance due to
the dedicated DSP technology -for each participant's port-
Moreoever, the actual conference summing of speakers in
MeetingPlace uses the best-in-breed algorithm to ensure
absolute minimal distortion. In some situations, MeetingPlace's
summing clarity can far exceed what is available in today's CCC.
-On the Business Front-
Over the last 10 years, many of our audio-only customers
upgraded to full Rich-Media to find that their productivity
increased immensely. The "initial step" to get to Rich-Media
for some was a little intimidating, sometimes not even
intuitive, but always in hind-sight the right thing to do.
Cisco has addressed customer step-up concerns by providing
assistance through is Application Consulting organization.
At some point, Catalyst's usage may exceed CCC's capacity
to provide you with sufficient conferencing ports.
MeetingPlace offers a broad scalability solution.
So, with what MeetingPlace has today, and what is coming
down the road, you have feature, functionality, and professional
assistance through MeetingPlace to best help Catalyst as
its needs and usage grow.
I really appreciate the information provided in your response, especially in light of my slightly heated tone. I would very much like to investigate the Application Consulting.
While the price tag is still a bitter pill for me to swallow I am not so angry as to not be able to see that MeetingPlace offers a base platform that can grow to incorporate all of my company's collaboration needs.
Thanks again for your insight.
Right now to setup a meeting, all I do is call AT&T to arrange the a conference call. What does Cisco MeetingPlace have to offer that is any simpler than this?
You ask a good question, and one that is very commonly posed by potential customers. The key word in your question is "simple". To address the meaning of "simple", one has to look at the context where it is being applied.
Having come to Cisco, it's apparent to me that companies need expeditious access to information to remain competitive. The internet age has driven the fast pace, and ironically, provided the environment for the information accessibility needed.
As little as 5 years ago, a conference call on AT&T provided an adequate forum for business. Simple, then, meant calling AT&T to reserve your conferencing needs (voice was all you got).
Today, the decision process involves a much larger information base, and involves a broader set of contributors. Competitive companies need to rapidly inform wider employee audiences, and include media beyond just voice. Thus Web conferencing is really important to the business process.
Meetings are going towards Rich Media Communications.
So how does one attain the same "simple" experience of arranging for rich media meetings? Companies want the analogous "simple" manner to setup their modern rich media meetings.
Cisco MeetingPlace provides a single solution that enables companies to setup, conduct, and follow-up on meetings that include Audio, Data, and Video. Using IP Telephony, we've married the traditional audio-only conference call, with web collaboration, and data sharing. The ease that you had to create an AT&T conference call, is available for secure on-net Rich-Media communications. Today's knowledge worker can simply use their Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook calendaring application, and with a few keystrokes arrange a multi-media meeting and notify its participants.
Moreover, using Cisco's well designed network and QoS practices, along with our Directory Services Integration, you have a secure, high quality Rich Media session. Since the session occurs on your corporate voice and data networks, there is minimal cost.
By migrating to Cisco IP Telephony, companies can now tightly couple their voice with data and video to provide the richest business meeting experience possible -- and all with the equivalent simplicity that the old AT&T conference call provided.
I have a question on Security. For my important meetings, I need to know that they are secure. What means do I have available through Cisco MeetingPlace to ensure that my IP (intellectual property) stays within my company?
Cisco takes security seriously. What I've found intriguing, coming to Cisco from the Latitude acquisition, is that we both approached meeting security, but from different directions. At the network layers, Cisco offers many methods to provide secure transport of voice and data.
At the application level, MeetingPlace has ways to ensure secure meetings. Let's start with the big one. Cisco MeetingPlace is an on-net offering. That is, the conferencing equipment sits on the customer's network - thus data stays inside the company's firewall. Remote users may connect via VPN to their corporate network to participate in meetings.
When using Cisco IP telephony products, your MeetingPlace meetings also benefit from the security designed into your Cisco VoIP network.
Looking at the meeting process, security starts with how one sets up the meeting. In an on-net enterprise deployment, typically users schedule through Microsoft Outlook, or Lotus Notes. These desktop applications use a corporate directory to ensure access by only the appropriate individuals. If a user wants another level of security for his or her meeting, they can assign a password specific to this meeting. The Outlook or Notes meeting invitation gets sent to only the specific invitees, and contains the password. So only those who need to know ... know.
Now that your meetings are securely scheduled, and invited participants notified, you can go ahead and conduct your secure voice and web meeting. some of the features that provide web security include SSL, web hosting inside the firewall, and participant roster. oh yes, if you've tagged your meeting with a password, then attendees will not only need to enter the meeting identification number, but also the password.
The roster is an interesting beast, because at first glance, you don't asssociate it with security. It's just a nice way of seeing who's in your conference. But, for those companies with high security interests, that nice roster of people becomes a security vehicle. (A rose by any other name...) If at any time during the meeting, an unknown participant appears on the web conference roster, you have the option to disconnect that person.
So, Bill, I hope that you feel secure that Cisco MeetingPlace offers customers a wide-spanning secure rich media communications platform. It leverages the Cisco network security expertise with the MeetingPlace best practices for secure meetings.
Where can I find information on what RFC's are support on the CISCO products? I need to know if the 2600 series support RFC# 2136?
this is an interesting question for this forum. Since I am still a newbie to Cisco (My employee history says that I am a 10 year Cisco vet, but 9+ of those years were with Latitude Communications).
you ask a good question, I am not aware of a single tabular listing of RFC's and Cisco product applicability.
I'm straying way out of the area of Rich-Media Communications, but you've piqued my curiousity to do at least a little digging. Let's do a search of Cisco's online product and technology web page.
Searching Cisco.com's Product and Technology web site, I came across this product bulletin. It says that the Registrar functionality is being migrated to CNS Configuration Engine v1.3, and that this runs on the
Cisco 2600. The Dynamic DNS functionality as outlined in RFC-2136 is contained in the CNS Registrar package.
Now, take what I've said here with a lot of salt -- remember I said that
I was straying way out of Rich Media Communications. Please consult
the experts in the Networking Infrastructure group. Additionally, you could call
Cisco TAC and ask there.
Product Bulletin No. 2038
Cisco CNS Configuration Registrar v1.2
--------------------------------------------------------------------------...The CNS Configuration Registrar v1.2 (CNS-CFG12-SW) will be discontinued in favor of the CNS Configuration Engine v1.3 (CNS-CFG13-SW-K9), which provides SSL based secure connection and support for deployment and management for the following Cisco IOS routers and switches.
Cisco 1700 Series Internet Router
Cisco 2600 Series Router
Cisco 3600 Series Multiservice Platform
Cisco 3700 Series Multiservice Access Router
Cisco 7200 Series Router
Cisco 2950 Series Catalyst Switch
Cisco 3550 Series Catalyst Switch
Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) and Cisco.com information will continue for the CNS Configuration Registrar v1.2 through February 15, 2006.
Today our organization uses LiveMeeting, Webex, and various other web services for a broad set of meeting applications. Our IT organization looks to drive expense savings, leverage other solutions we have today and enhance our security policies. Will Cisco MeetingPlace provide this?
It sounds to me like your company is doing some serious leading edge
thinking here. You asked about security, and we showed how Cisco MeetingPlace
addresses security on many fronts. Now let's talk a little about cost effective integrated technology. (Now that's a mouthful, try saying that
three times quickly). And to the company, this is a mouthful. IT departments
are looked to as providers of effective, and reliable communications
services, all at as small an expense to company as possible.
In the scenario you've described above, your IT department has to contend
with multiple vendors each providing a unique communications service.
LiveMeeting, Webex, and others offer a good technology service, but when
you look at the total business picture, the company really pays a high
To schedule a full rich-media meeting, users have to arrange the
Webex session, then the Voice session, and then Video. Make sure that
you write down all the PIN #'s, because now you'll have to send them
out in emails to all the invited participants. (Uggh).
By the way, if the scheduler were a new-hire, does your company
have a policy about his or her ability to coordinate and schedule a
Using a hybrid manner to setup your meetings, what level of security
does this offer? Each provider now has access info into your
internal meeting information. And when you actually hold the meeting...
all that data flows out of the corporate network into the providers'
Finally, when it comes time for your accounting department to pay the
bill(s), you have a situation here where you'll get multiple invoices.
And unless the accounting people are prepared ahead of time, it will
be very hard to correlate the services charges from all of the providers
to get a good trend analysis over time. This in itself is worth a
great deal to a company -- the ability accurately know and bill against
the internal conferencing usage. This expense directly affects the
company's financial bottom line, so having good management here has
Cisco MeetingPlace eliminates all of these issues. First,
all your conferencing equipment sits on the corporate network, behind
firewalls. This configuration allows for tight coupling of the meeting
process into other business applications -- like Lotus Notes, for example.
You can schedule your meeting within the Notes calendar, and concurrently
send out calendar invites to all participants. None of this
info need leave the company corporate network.
By the way, Cisco MeetingPlace will have synchronized its profile access
to your company's Corporate Directory. So this scheduler will be known,
and his or her conferencing privileges set appropriately.
Then when the meeting actually happens, the data remains on the corporate
network, so secure information remains... secure. You'll be running
on well-designed Cisco VoIP network implementations - that ensures the highest
voice quality possible utilizing QoS technology. You voice situation
is synchronized to the Web conference and video, thus providing the
end users with the best meeting experience possible.
Lastly, since all the meeting process occurs within an integrated Rich Media
Communications server, there is full accountability for billing, and
utilization. Customers can collect usage trend data to see when it
is time to increase Cisco MeetingPlace capacity.
I've said a mouthful here. Didn't I say the Cisco MeetingPlace technology
has cost effective integrated technology - and that that was a mouthful?
Bottom line here is that Rich Media Communications, if implemented wisely,
can be done very cost effectively and securely. Over the last 10 years,
MeetingPlace has developed the product functionality to be an
effective integrated business solution.
I have heard that Cisco MeetingPlace has a VoIP solution. Can you describe your solutions? How does QOS fit into the picture?
What a good question to ask! Yes indeed, Cisco MeetingPlace does offer
a VoIP solution. As the world moves into the next generation communications
infrastructure, MeetingPlace will be leading the way with its IP Voice
In the transition to VoIP, we spent some time thinking of the necessary
baseline features for quality Audio Conferencing. The 10 years of
conferencing experience told us that at a minimum Cisco MeetingPlace
had to offer these things:
QoS control - We can operate in either a Type of Service with IP Precedence,
or a DiffServ (DSCP) mode. This allows customer flexibility with how
they choose to implement Quality of Service on their network.
Adaptive Jitter Buffer - Some installations may connect to networks
that have periods of degrading performance. Based upon years of
acquired voice measurements, Gary Skrabutenas, Cisco's Conferencing
Voice Quality expert has shown a tight correlation between conference
understandability and network performance.
To address the variability in network characteristics, MeetingPlace uses
a robust adaptive Jitter buffer algorithm. The algorithm provides for
adjustable steady-state buffer size, as well as attack rate control for
how fast adjustments occur to the buffer size, in the presence of
Extended Echo Cancellation - As the world transitions to IP Voice, we've
found a wide variability in echo. Since overall voice quality of a conference
can be impaired from a single participant's echo, we created an extended
echo canceler. This software recognizes and cancels echos whose delay
can exceed 300 milliseconds.
Moving a little higher, Cisco MeetingPlace supports for H.323 and SIP call control
protocols. Here is where VoIP starts to take a big divergence in feature
functionality from traditional PSTN. Utilizing SIP, MeetingPlace is able
to network multiple Conference Servers and have users automatically redirected
to the appropriate host for their meetings.
Oh yes, and one other feature ... IP MeetingPlace tightly integrates with
Cisco's Call Manager AND Cisco's 7960 IP phone. From the LCD display, people
can press a softkey to schedule, list, and attend conferences on Cisco
MeetingPlace. This is a unique feature that users will enjoy as they
transition from POTS (plain ole telephone systems) to the Cisco Call
Manager and the 7960 IP Phone.
So, in summary, for VoIP, MeetingPlace extends its technology leadership
to provide key Voice Quality features thus ensuring the best meeting
experience possible on the IP phone. Cisco further extends its leadership
by enabling users to manage their meetings using the 7960 IP phone display
I do regular old business meetings, the kind where people sit in a room and talk about projects. What does Cisco Web conferencing offer that I should invest in this technology above and beyond just voice?
This morning I am sitting on my sofa tending to my days upcoming work, which
includes answering your question here on Net Pro. I have a Quality and
Operations meeting at the ofice, but I will attend via Cisco MeetingPlace
today. I worked a little late last night, so that is why I am at choosing to
work from home.
I will call in using Cisco MeetingPlace and attend using MeetingPlace's Web Conferencing.
Now an interesting thing about the Quality and Operations meeting is that the subject material
centers around lots of graphs and charts and data tables. In days gone by, with all pertinient employees in the conference room, we achieved the core
value of this meeting: seeing the department Quality performance metrics,
discussing and then acting upon areas needing attention.
Given today'space of work it is sometimes difficult for people to attend in-person.
The solution for this problem comes from a virtual extension of the traditional
meeting room. Cisco MeetingPlace creates this virtual extension through
the coordinated hosting of a rich media communications session.
In the virtual meeting room, I am able to see the Quality Charts and tables as
it is presented. Any comments from the Quality Director I hear in real time, and
see in the context of the actual data.
By the way, sometimes we have people attend from their cell phone. The background
traffic noise may bleed into the conference. Well, using the Cisco Web Conferencing,
we can see which participant's voice is speaking, and mute that line. If I were
sitting in the traditional meeting room on a speakerphone, I'd have to ask everyone
to find out whose phone was causing the noise, and then have that person pull
over to the side of the road. Not a real efficient use of time there!
So I guess what I am presenting to you here, is that Web Conferencing is now a
vital infrastructure tool for businesses to remain effective. When employees are
not physically able to attend meetings, they can be enabled to participate via
coordinated voice and web conferencing.
And by the way ... have a good weekend!