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Unity Features vs Meridian Mail

I have a customer who is on a trial with the Cisco IP Telephony solution including our Unity Unified Messaging System. They currently have Meridian Mail with a Nortel PBX and are just looking for the same/equivalent features that they have learned to "love" with MerMail. What is Unity's stance today and future with these features:<br><br>Request for Unity Features<br>1. There is no "autologin" feature. Password must be entered each time messages are retrieved.<br><br><br>2. There does not appear to be a way call in for messages and then out-dial to a seven digit, PSTN telephone number.<br><br>3. Is there a way to play the message "envelope" (date/time/caller message sent) before the message is played?<br><br>The concept of "saved messages" is nice, but I have found it very confusing to skip over current messages and get to saved messages, while listening to a current message.<br><br>4. The system does not support bilingual messages/system prompts.<br><br>5. When an internal user is forwarded to another user's voice mailbox, the system does apply the calling user's language preference (it applies the called user's preference)<br><br><br>6. Cannot establish a call from listening a message (call back to the one who left the voice mail).<br><br><br><br>7. Can the system automatically switch from long to short system prompts by detecting that the user is more experienced with his voice mail system.<br><br><br>8. Cell phone number recognized by the system when receiving a call forwarded by the cell phone into vmail.<br><br><br>9. When calling into vmail to access messages, home phone number or cell phone number is recognized by the system so that I don't have to enter a password.<br><br><br><br>Operational / Quality Problems<br><br><br><br><br>1. Voice levels for recorded greeting messages vary depending on which telephone (cell., outside land line, IP phone, etc.) was used to record them.<br><br><br><br>


Re: Unity Features vs Meridian Mail

Well... I'll take a crack at all these...

1. If a password is set you are always prompted for it regardless of if you called in from your extension or entered your ID manually from an external line. If you really want you can program your password into the speed dial for voice mail but I wouldn’t recommend it. Letting folks wander into your office and get into your voice mail seems like a bad idea in general.

2. Currently in Unity you can only dial Ids that correspond to objects entered into the directory (i.e. dial call handlers, subscribers, interviewers etc…). There is no “free dial” allowed. Primarily this is done to prevent folks from ripping off long distance and/or the customer’s 800 line and the like. In upcoming releases of 3.x there will be a new feature called ‘System Transfer’ that admins can setup if they like that will allow callers to enter a conversation which lets them dial any number (extension or external number) they want as long as it passes a restriction table setup by the administrator. I don’t have a release date for this but it is speced and as is being worked on.

3. You can configure the timestamp to play before and/or after the message is offered in the stack. This is an option on the conversations page in the SA and can be configured per user via the SA or the AA (by the users themselves).

3a. I’m not sure I understand this question… when you enter your stack you can go right to new messages (1), sending a message (2) or getting to saved messages (3). There is no requirement to wade through your new messages first. Unless I’m misunderstanding your query.

4. We support numerous languages on the system at the same time for both the phone conversation and the system administration console. I don’t understand your comment.

5. yes… the called user has only one recorded greeting (per time schedule/call type) so that will play regardless of the language of the calling user… this is the majority of what they hear.

7. Callback is on the roadmap. I know it’s being speced but I don’t now when it’ll get into a production build. I think the initial limitation will be that you can only call back subscribers (i.e. you can’t callback external callers automatically).

7. No, you need to switch to brief prompts. The users can do this for themselves in the AA if they like. I’m not a big fan of changing the conversation for users out from under them based on my assumptions of what they want. I’m big into letting the users choose for themselves if they like brief or full prompt sets and letting them change it on their own when they’re ready.

8. Not sure what the question is here… if we get a calling number it’s stuffed into the subject of the voice mail… is that what you’re asking?

9. With Unity 3.0 we support up to 10 Ids per subscriber… these can be internal extensions, home phone numbers, cell phones etc… if the calling number is presented to us that matches one of these, the user is recognized and automatically routed to the subscriber sign in conversation.

Voice Quality - Yep… known issue in IP telephony land. What we need is AGC (Automatic Gain Control) which will push the volume of inbound recordings up or down to match a set dB level. This functionality is shipping with Unity 3.1, coming soon.

Jeff Lindborg
Unity Product Architect/Answer Monkey
Cisco Systems (new page for Unity support tools and scripts)

Cisco Employee

Re: Unity Features vs Meridian Mail

Many Thanks for the answers Jeff, I have additional questions based on your responses for Questions:
2, 6, 8

Based on Q2) Which verison of Unity 3.X specifically and timeframe if possible.?

Based on Q6) When is CALL BACK going to be on the roadmap tentaively and therefore what version of Unity 3.X?

Based on Q8) No longer an issue , so I will not go into detail as to what I meant by the question.


Re: Unity Features vs Meridian Mail

Disclaimer: I generally make it a practice to not speculate about when items will be in the field, even generally. Been around too long and burned too many times. When a feature is in a build that's handed to QA and is clearly on its way to the field, I'll post out here that it's in field test or released etc... but outside of that I steer clear about predicting release dates.

The "super transfer" conversation is being worked on by the conversations guys and I believe it'll be in the follow on to 3.1(1), but I can't speculate on a release date for that for that.

Callback is on the roadmap but the last I saw it was on 3.2's list (after being moved from 3.0 to 3.1 earlier). I can't even begin to guess when that will be available in the field at this point. Callback is interesting if you want to get into situations where you can return calls to outside folks (i.e. not just calling another subscriber's extension or something). Dealing with issues such as how to format the dial string based on the calling number provided by the PBX is a real tough nut to crack when you get outside of North America. I still have nightmares about the old PhoneMax product I worked on years ago that made a credible effort to solve this issue... we landed on the rocks in Japan (variable length area codes, variable length exchange codes. The very definition of a worst case scenario). Likely the first incarnation of the return call feature will be limited to a "live reply" type thing for suscriber to subscriber messages. In other words we'll contact the subscriber that sent you the message but if it was an unidentified caller, the option wont be available.

Jeff Lindborg
Unity Product Architect/Answer Monkey
Cisco Systems (new page for Unity support tools and scripts)

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