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Tandberg endpoints integrate with Cisco CallManager

Feb 18, 20043 mins
Cisco SystemsNetworkingVideoconferencing

Tandberg announced Wednesday that two of its videoconferencing endpoints now have native support for Cisco’s new CallManager 4.0 software, giving the endpoints the same features and capabilities as a Cisco IP phone including call transfers, hold, and forwarding.

Beginning Wednesday, the Tandberg 1000 desktop unit and Tandberg 550 group video unit can be integrated directly into a CallManager-based network via native support for Cisco Signalling Connection Control Part (SCCP) protocol. (The company has pledged all of its endpoints will have the SCCP option by the end of the year.)

With the SCCP option enabled, Tandberg users will have the same interface displayed on their endpoint that they would see on a Cisco IP phone. Just dialing a standard phone number can place a video call. The Tandberg units are also tied into the central phone directory for looking up phone numbers.

“The implication for end users that are use to using the Cisco IP phones is that it’s same key presses and screen layouts for doing the exact same tasks,” says Hakon Dahle, vice president of innovation at Tandberg. “This makes the transition to our machine [from a phone] a whole lot easier.”

Administrators will also benefit from the new integration by being able to centrally provision and manage the Tandberg endpoints via CallManager. Based on the unit’s MAC address, a configuration file can be loaded as soon as the endpoint is plugged into an Ethernet jack (or connected wirelessly). This saves the end user from having to run through a myriad of setup menus on their own. It also allows for the device to be moved to another physical location in the building and still keep the same phone number and settings, Dahle says.

Tandberg and Cisco have been working for 14 months on integrating the Cisco software with the Tandberg hardware.

“The H.323 implementation that Cisco uses in CallManager is a little bit outside the specification and [the integration] isn’t a trivial exercise,” says Christine Perey of Perey Research and Consulting (and a Network World Test Alliance Member). “It does give excellent functionality. to users and from and industry standpoint is an acknowledgement of the importance of Cisco’s customer base in IP phones.”

Tanberg will offer both standard H.323 1000 and 550 units as well as those with the Cisco software loaded. The standard H.323 endpoint will still work with the Cisco CallManager software, but users will not have access to functions such as call forwarding and transfer, they will only be able to place and receive calls, Dahle says.

Cisco itself is offering a USB Webcam and PC software for about $190 that will allow users to conduct video calls via CallManager. Tandberg CEO Andrew Miller believes the Cisco offering will compliment his company’s offering. “For the average or entry level user, the USB camera will drive them into the video conferencing and they’ll upgrade in the future,” Miller says.

Tandberg offers the Cisco functionality for the same price as a standard Tandberg 1000 ($5,990) or 550 ($4,990). Existing users can download a software update if they wish to use their unit with a CallManager implementation.