Cisco to Replace VoIP Tools

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-10-01 Print this article Print

Cisco Systems is retiring its first product for monitoring Internet phone networks-and that's just as well, say some customers.

Is it the fox watching the henhouse? Maybe, but customers pick Cisco software to monitor their Cisco-based telephony networks because they figure the company knows its own gear backward and forward. To some, however, the networking champ's tool chest for monitoring IP telephony has been less than perfect.

Cisco apparently agreed: In September, the company said it will discontinue its initial offering in this area, the CiscoWorks IP Telephony Environment Monitor (ITEM) suite. Taking its place is a new product—CiscoWorks IP Communications Operations Manager 1.0—to be available in November.

That's just as well, say some customers. One of ITEM's shortcomings was that it couldn't monitor calls in progress, says Mark Melvin, director of solutions engineering at Apptis, a network consulting firm. ITEM "looks at the data after the call is finished," he says. "It's very difficult to troubleshoot a voice call after the fact." Apptis instead uses Qovia's tools to monitor call quality on its Cisco phone system. (Cisco says the new product will provide real-time call monitoring.)

For Norm Baxter, information-technology project leader for the city of Mississauga in Ontario, Canada, the new product still won't address another downside of Cisco's management tools: They're not consolidated. For example, a separate utility is needed for Cisco's CallManager server, such as to add new extensions. "Ideally, we'd have one tool that did everything," Baxter says.

Others say the move to Cisco IP telephony was a culture shock. Jack Leifel, CIO of Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill., says it was "a bit of a learning curve" to retrain his voice technicians—who were familiar with a 15-year-old, obsolete Siemens phone system—to use Cisco's management tools for its CallManager phone system. "Our administrators had to do a complete 180," he says.

But once staffers are familiar with it, Cisco CallManger is "extremely easy to manage," says Chris Smith, director of technology and communications for Bath Central School District in New York. Most important, he says, was the district's detailed deployment plan that identified performance problems before the phones were even plugged in. "That saved us all the headaches down the road," Smith says.

IP Telephony Management

Cisco Systems
170 W. Tasman Drive
San Jose, Ca 95134
(408) 526-4000

Ticker: CSCO (Nasdaq)
Employees: 37,050

Don Proctor
Senior Vice President, Voice Technology Group
Named to current position in 2002; previously headed Cisco's multiservice carrier switching and voice gateway business units. Before that, ran data communications for database software vendor Sybase.

Cliff Meltzer
Senior VP, Network Management Technology Group
He rejoined Cisco in October 2003 after a stint as CEO of Digital Fountain, a streaming media software startup. He previously spent seven years at Cisco, most recently in charge of software development; prior to that, he worked for 16 years at IBM.

CiscoWorks IP Communica-tions Operations Manager 1.0 (available in November) monitors the operational health of Cisco CallManager, phones, other IP telephony devices and the underlying data network. It replaces CiscoWorks IP Telephony Environment Monitor (ITEM), which Cisco will stop selling in March 2006.
Reference Checks

Liz Claiborne
John Kovac
VP, I.T.
(201) 295-6000
Project: New York-based women's apparel company lets staff of six operational technicians use CiscoWorks ITEM to monitor status of its 3,750 Cisco-based IP phones and network.

City of Mississauga
Norm Baxter
Project Leader
Project: City government in Ontario, Canada, uses CiscoWorks ITEM to monitor the status and availability of 2,400 phones in 70 facilities.

Bath Central School District
Chris Smith
Dir., Technology and Communications
Project: Four-school district in western New York with 2,100 students uses Cisco's voice-monitoring utility for its 300-phone system.

A. Duda & Sons
John Kane
Dir., Networking and Communication
(407) 365-2111
Project: Produce grower based in Oviedo, Fla., uses Cisco CallManager utilities to monitor 600 phones at 20 offices.

Suny Cortland
Scott Thomas
Network Administrator
Project: State university in central New York uses CiscoWorks ITEM to monitor 500 Cisco IP phones and the status of 40 gateways, which can connect up to 2,000 analog phones and fax machines.

Moraine Valley Community College
Jack Leifel
Project: College in Illinois with 46,000 students manages 650 Cisco IP phones and its Cisco Unity voice-mail system with Cisco's bundled tools.

Executives listed here are all users of Cisco's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

2005FY 2004FY 2003FY
Revenue $24.80B $22.05B $18.88B
Gross margin 67.2% 68.6% 70.1%
Operating income $7.42B $6.29B $4.88B
Net income $5.74B $4.40B $3.58B
Net margin 23.1% 20.0% 19.0%
Earnings per share $0.87 $0.62 $0.50
R&D expenditure $3.22B $3.08B $3.14B

* Fiscal Year Ends in Late July
Source: Company Reports

Other Financials**
Total assets - $33.88B
Stockholders' equity - $23.17B
Cash and equivalents - $4.74B
Short-term investments - $2.23B
Long-term debt - None
Shares outstanding - 6.48B
Market value, 9/22 - $113.6B
**As of July 30, 2005, except as noted


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