Cisco Unity voicemail now compatible with Office 365… (sort of)

One of the more “novel” features of Exchange Server 2010 was the “speech to text” functionality of the Unified Messaging Server. This required an additional server deployed within your Exchange environment and depending on the number of users, quite a high spec’ed piece of kit. This was largely due to the fact that it dealt with transcribing audio from voice mails into text that could in turn be viewed as an email. When I say novel, I mean no dis-respect to the team that developed this feature, it’s just that most people are used to voice mail as a feature you usually listen to… old habits die-hard I guess.

With Office 365 the speech to text capability is part of the Exchange Online Plan 2 or the E3 and E4 Office 365 suite. There are also requirements for the interface that transfers the audio from the PBX into the cloud (Exchange Online UM service). This can be delivered by a compatible IP PBX or an IP Media Gateway, some configuration is required, however if you have a current voicemail solution with an IP PBX this shouldn’t be that difficult to configure. For more information see here: http://community.office365.com/en-us/w/exchange/569.aspx

Cisco IP Phone

The one “island” in the Office 365 UM story has been the Cisco Unity solution… until now. Cisco has released a rather detailed step by step guide on how to configure your Unity service to allow it to perform the following:

  1. Deliver Voicemail to the inbox of a user
  2. Allow a user to have their email etc read out over the phone.

There is a glaring omission, the “novel” feature of speech to text, it would appear that this feature was too difficult to include in this release. I wonder if we will see it at all. However it is at least a step towards unity between Office 365 and the Cisco VoIP solution that has a large percentage of the corporate market. In my time at Microsoft I saw a large number of customers with sunk costs in Cisco voice solutions that just didn’t want to budge, and as such Exchange Online was off-limits, this announcement may see those customers review that position.

For the detailed step by step guide on configuring Cisco Unity for use with Office 365 go here:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/voice_ip_comm/connection/8x/unified_messaging/guide/85xcucumg025.html#wp1189441

First posted by Ryan here: http://wp.me/p2g7KP-4w

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