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An introduction to Cisco's MeetingPlace for voice, video and Web conferencing

What to expect from a voice, video and Web conferencing suite.

Deciding to migrate your telephony infrastructure to VoIP can be a difficult decision, exacerbated when you are confronted with suites of products that integrate Voice, Video and Web conferencing, among other features. Even if you are not currently interested in video and Web conferencing, it would be foolish not to understand what's available if and when your executives become interested. This article looks at Cisco's MeetingPlace.

A significant component of Cisco's IP Telephony solution is the MeetingPlace product suite. This solution combines voice, video and Web conferencing products within a customer's network inside their firewall architecture to provide maximum security. End users can enter MeetingPlace conferences by using various desktop applications such as IM clients, IP Telephony phones, and Web browsers. Because Cisco MeetingPlace's capability to utilize PSTN and IP-based phones, groupware clients, and Web browsers; users can ensure their availability or participate in conferences using various applications from any location.

The core component of the Cisco IP Communication system is MeetingPlace 5.3. It integrates with Cisco CallManager-based video telephony as well as Cisco's IPVC videoconferencing in order to provide an easier method for setting up meetings and attendance in conjunction with voice, video and Web conferencing capabilities and control. The meeting attendees instantly are able to receive notifications via e-mail or calendar. Attending or entering the meeting requires only a single click. With the adoption of this model, companies eliminate the barriers associated with traditional conferencing and realize significant productivity benefits.

Cisco MeetingPlace Audio Server Release 5.3 exists internally in the Cisco MeetingPlace 8106 or 8112. Cisco MeetingPlace Audio Server Release 5.3 is able to integrate with a company's e-mail solution, such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. The server-based applications (MeetingPlace Web Conferencing and MeetingPlace for Outlook) reside in one or more Cisco Media Convergence Servers (MCS). This Cisco-provided Windows machine interconnects or signals with the Cisco MeetingPlace Audio Server system and other Cisco MeetingPlace integration applications over a corporate Local Area Network or Wide Area Network. The Cisco MeetingPlace 8106 or Cisco MeetingPlace 8112 also connects to the Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN) to ensure communication with other corporate network resources.

Other benefits for utilizing MeetingPlace are as follows:

  • Can automate e-mails to invitees with information about the meeting, the meeting phone number and ID in the notification.
  • Provides an array of "in-session" features to increase the productivity of the conference. These features provide the means to record meetings for later reference or greatly increase the security of a meeting.
  • Because of the Web conferencing feature, all meeting participants can share live documentation for real time discussions.
  • All meetings can be stored for a pre-configured amount of time for future access to past meetings and attachments, all from the Web or IP phone.

About the author:
Richard Parsons (CCIE#5719) is a Manager of Professional Services for Callisma Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SBC. He has built a solid foundation in networking concepts, advanced troubleshooting, and monitoring in areas such as optical, ATM, VoIP, routed, routing, and storage infrastructures. Rich resides in Atlanta GA, and is a graduate of Clemson University. His background includes senior and principal consulting positions at International Network Services, Lucent, and Callisma.


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