window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-16803030-1');

Local Media Processing for VDI

As I blogged earlier this year, there has been a rift for collaboration enabled users migrating from the traditional desktop computing model to a virtual desktop environment. Specifically many collaboration clients require some time of local media processing for either video or audio. In either case, when the desktop is moved to a centralized datacenter and is separate from the client with low speed connection, a degradation in these features can be experienced.

Now, after much anticipation, Cisco’s VXI consortium has produced a client that will solve this. Enter the VXC 6215 client.

Large Photo


Rather than being a zero client like the previous VXC 2100 and 2200 models, this client contains a local linux image that will allow for local media processing while simultaneously communicating with the upstream VDI infrastructure, whether it be Citrix or VMware View.

Out of the gate this thing will support video termination with Cisco Unified Personal Communicator or any of the Cisco Client Services Framework integrations with Microsoft Lync. Initial protocol support will include RDP7, ICA Agent 11+, XenDesktop 4.x,5.x, and PCoIP compatibility with VMware View 5.x.

This product announcement finally lets us realize what VXI is meant to be. Product availability Q4CY2011 to Q1CY2012.

CUWL Update–WebEx Connect


Most reading this blog post will be quite familiar with the workspace licensing program (CUWL) Cisco introduced a few years back for its collaborative technologies. For those who are not as familiar, the introduction of the CUWL offering marked a shift in Cisco’s licensing model from counting endpoint devices, server instances, and features to a model à la Microsoft where user counts are the key metric.


This shift dramatically simplified orderability for customers and opened doors for them to deploy new services and adopt new features. Now, just like any other licensing model, CUWL is not perfect and we continually voice areas that need further attention. One such area is within the presences and instant messaging arena.


Historically your options under CUWL entitlement were restricted to premise based deployment scenarios – either the Unified Presence Server and Client (CUPS/CUPC) or entitlement to voice enable a Microsoft Office Communicator or Lync client (CUCI-MOC or CUCI-LYNC). This is all in the face of many organizations opting for a hosted solution or enterprise IM as opposed to on premise servers. WebEx Connect often chosen in a foray into hosted presence while also being owned by Cisco, it only seemed logical that Cisco create a path for WebEx Connect entitlement to make its way under the CUWL program.


Well, I’m happy to announce that as of October 17, 2011, WebEx Connect Cloud IM service is available to all new CUWL clients under both the standard and professional editions. Now the obvious next question is “what about existing clients?” – and unfortunately the details of how Cisco is going to handle that are still unclear. I’ll be sure to post commentary on that communication as soon as I receive it.




Some other notable changes to the CUWL program are:

  • Addition of 1:10 WebEx Meeting Center cloud port per CUWL Pro user
  • Option of adding named host licensing for WebEx Meeting Center
  • Addition to client choices including Jabber for Mac, iPhone, and Nokia

Cisco Jabber for Mac–General Availability

Cisco has released the first Jabber client for Mac OS X. The Jabber client supports both cloud based (WebEx Connect) and on-premise (CUPS) instant messaging and collaborative technologies. Cisco has made available or will subsequently make available the Jabber client for Apple iOS, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Android, and Windows.

As a WebEx Connect customer, we’re excited to have the first support client for the Mac operating system.


Cisco Jabber


Existing WebEx Connect users may download the Mac client through their Org Administration Tool. Other users may download the file from CCO at:

Quest for the Perfect Social Platform–Part 2

Let’s call this Quad day 1 and what a ride its been so far. Admittedly, my Linux skills are limited and that most certainly did not help in this process. There’s been quite a bit of learning about command and control of files systems and mount points that I had previously been able to get through life with which not having to become so familiar. This is all without brining up the oracle discussion…which I’ll skip, for now.


As it stands right now, I have created and deployed twelve, count them, twelve virtual machines to support this meager deployment. This sounds like an extraordinary number of servers, and it is, except for the fact that it’s all running on only two UCS B-Series blades and barely touching the CPU and RAM counts. Each blade has a single 6 core processor and 48GB or RAM.




For performance and failover testing reasons, I have all images running from one host and it’s topping out at less that 10% average CPU and 21GB of RAM consumed.




The number of virtual machines and the subsequent installation of each was initially disconcerting. Having said that, through the install process I have gathered a pretty good understanding of each machine and the role it provides. The manner in which Quad separates services would easily allow for rapid growth and roll out capacity to the tens or even hundreds of thousands of users. This isn’t all that surprising when you take into account Cisco’s history or delivering a product for the enterprise market and over time bringing it downstream.


Cisco’s approach to separating services isn’t all that different that say SharePoint; however, SharePoint allows for database, search, web, and cache services to be installed co-resident. Quad is in essence doing the same thing except that its abstracting the services out at the virtualization layer as opposed to a windows service layer. If anything, this gives Quad a bit of an advantage from flexibility and agility in allow services to be moved around or scaled without having to re-spin. 


Now that we’ve completed  the installation phase of this little project, we move into usability testing. Over the next few weeks I’ll be making a number of integrations with Communications Manager for phone services, Unity Connection for voicemail presentation, Exchange 2010 for calendar accessibility, and the WebEx Connect cloud for presence federation. It’s going to be an exciting few weeks. More info to come!

Hurricane Irene No Match for Collaboration Technologies

As you may have seen from previous posts, TBL eats its own dog food. Even in the wake of wide spread power disruptions and communication network outages, TBL is able to continue operations and support its clients. As I write this post sitting in a local area Starbucks, I cannot help but think about what it was like, even a few short years ago, and how things have changed. In a matter of moments, I’ll be posting this article to our website; I’m able to instant message with co-workers, client and partners on Cisco Jabber; And, I can receive phone calls via Single Number Reach from our Communications Manager.


This is all in the face of nearly the entire county where I reside being without power, our corporate office being inaccessible for the day, and more than 1.2 million others throughout the area without power or communication services. So as you go about your day, raking leaves, cutting up brush, refueling your generators, or even responding to the occasional email…just stop and think for a moment – how technology has changed your life or business, and just imagine what could be possible tomorrow.


Tropical Depression Eight

New Features in Attendant Console 8.5/8.6

I typically refrain from blogging product update news, but that’s really more of a guideline than a rule. Specifically, there have been some recent changes to the attendant console product line from Cisco (ARC OEM) that look to bridge the feature gap between it and the legacy attendant console as well as quell some concerns a number of other areas.


Most notable of these changes are:


1) Session based licensing – Better known as concurrent user licensing, this change brings the attendant console product line back in line with most other Cisco collaboration products. This has long been asked for and well most certainly ease budget concerns for customers who have a number of people who could be managing a call queue at any one time.


2) Forced Delivery – This feature will have the attendants phone actually ring in lieu of the previous behavior of the console ringing first and the call being delivered to the IP phone after accepting the call. When compared to the legacy attendant console package, this behavior generates most of the complaints regarding difference in functionality.


3) Personal Directory Groups – Yet another feature that has been sorely missed for users who grew up on the legacy attendant console.


To round out the list, some other enhancements included in this release are music in queue, wait time overflow, and some additional search functionality, UC on UCS certification.



Developing Your Own Video Strategy

Following on the heels of our latest Lunch and Learn event, I wanted to share some of the thoughts and discussion points discussed therein. We must first recognize that video is here – like it has never been before. Having said that, video is most certainly not a new technology. In fact, many organizations have been utilizing some sort of video within their walls for decades now. So what’s different, and why now?


I argue that the proliferation of video enabled consumer devices will spawn a mass adoption of video related technologies in our personal lives.  Think about it, if you had to run to an “email machine” every time you wanted to send an email, you probably wouldn’t use it as much. Proliferation and availability are intrinsically linked user adoption. This inevitably will translate into our professional careers à la instant messaging or social media (facebook, twitter).



Ok, so video is here, your user base is primed for its use, what does this mean for you? First and foremost, companies must begin developing a strategy and providing the technology base to host video services. Without doing so, corporate video content  will most certainly make its way to internet based services that most certainly don’t have your corporations best interests at heart. I previously have used a few examples from YouTube of internal sales meetings and holiday parties. With a few keyword searches, I’m sure you could find many of the same.


Secondly, video isn’t something you can just get a quote for and subsequently buy. Video has an incredibly wide definition which forces us to plan for which use cases we are to tackle first, communicate that effectively, and then execute. A solution to provide point to point room based video will quickly spawn questions on how that can be connected to external parties or bridge multiple parties into the same conference. Each of these requires different technology investments and the last thing you want to do is tell your CEO that he can’t do something shortly after writing a big check!


Finally, you have to be able to provide this solution and compete will services that are provided on the internet free of charge. Now that’s a challenge!

Quest for the Perfect Social Platform–Part 1

If there is one thing we do at TBL, it’s eat our own dog food. But, to be fair, I think it’s a little more than that. One of the things that makes us so unique is that we make a living delivering solutions to clients who are just like us. Our focus is not taking down large federal equipment resell contracts or delivering services to the Fortune 50, but rather developing solutions for companies and solving problems. The interesting piece is we need look no farther than our front door for inspiration on what solutions businesses need to solve today’s problems. It is in that spirit that I begin this series – TBL’s own search for the perfect social platform.


Let’s introduce the contenders. Most everyone who will read this blog is familiar with Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint has come a great distance since its debut. It is arguably one of the more prevalent intranet portal platforms in use today and offers models for both on-premise and hosted consumption.



A potentially less known, but no less valid, contender is Chatter from TBL’s runs many of its operations from a database so the tight integration from Chatter is most certainly attractive.




And the new entry to the field, Cisco Quad. We have placed the order for our Quad licensing and the Cisco UCS B-Series blades that will support it and are just awaiting shipment. Now I know what you’re thinking…TBL is a Cisco reseller and delivers Cisco solutions so clearly Quad is going come through as the victor. While I can’t deny the first two points, I hope the trials and tribulations you will witness through these posts will be evidence to the fact that we took a hard look at each solution.




Let the games begin!

What is your Social Media Strategy?

Did you know that:

  • 78% of 18-34 year olds
  • 71% of 35-44 year olds
  • 59% of 45-54 year olds

…have either a Facebook or MySpace account?


Did you know that:

  • Average number of tweets per hour is 1.3 million
  • 3.5 billion pieces of content shared each week on Facebook
  • 35 million Facebook users update their status each day


Your customers are talking…





…the question is…are you listening?


TBL is developing a professional services engagement process to assist our customers in assessing what their clients are saying right now, developing a plan to identify and address public feedback, and create strategies to utilize social mediums to drive new sales and better customer loyalty.

We’re looking for a few clients to start down this journey. Drop me an email if you think you might be interested.

Cisco Expands UC Virtualization Support

Stand back….this is a pretty big announcement!  As of June 7, 2011 Cisco began support for some Collaboration (formerly Unified Communications) applications running in a virtual environment on hardware other than their own Unified Computing System (UCS). The is the first in hopefully many steps to come in widening support for benefits we often realize with typical desktop and server applications running on a VMware hypervisor. The details are as follows.


Cisco is pleased to announce expanded virtualization of Cisco Unified Communications starting Jun 7, 2011.

On Jun 7 Cisco will add two additional virtualized UC offers. Customers will then have three deployment options:

1. UC on UCS – Tested Reference Configurations

2. UC on UCS – Specs-based VMware hardware support

3. HP and IBM – Specs-based VMware hardware support

Phase 1 support begins Jun 7, 2011 and should include the following (see for final products and versions supported):

– Cisco Unified Communications Manager 8.0.2+ and 8.5.1

– Cisco Unified Communications Manager – Session Management Edition 8.5.1

– Cisco Unified Communications Management Suite

– Cisco Unity Connection 8.0.2+ and 8.5.1

– Cisco Unity 7.0.2+ (with Fiber Channel SAN only)

– Cisco Unified Contact Center Express and IP IVR 8.5.1

Support for additional products and versions will phase in over rest of CY11.

Specs-based VMware hardware support adds the following

– UC Compute support for UCS, HP, IBM servers on VMware’s hardware compatibility list and running Intel Xeon 5600 / 7500 family CPUs

– UC Network support for 1Gb through 10Gb NIC, CNA, HBA and Cisco VIC adapters that are supported by above servers

– UC Storage support for DAS, SAN (Fiber Channel, iSCSI, FCoE) and NAS (NFS).

– More co-resident UC VMs per physical server if more powerful CPUs are used

– Note that UC / non-UC / 3rd-party co-residency is still not supported.

– Note that hardware oversubscription is still not supported by UC.

– No changes to VMware product, version or feature support by UC


This most certainly gives us far more agility for the manner in which we deploy these applications. More info to come as I get it…