Provisioning System for Cisco Unified Communications

The Uplinx® Provisioning System for Cisco Unified Communications is a comprehensive commissioning system which makes it easy to perform advanced commissioning tasks for end users in no time.

Rapidly setup Cisco phones, device profiles, voicemail and presence details - correctly, first time, every time - thus reducing operational costs associated with daily telephony operations.

It enables help desks, customers or site administrators to manage their own telephony users by limiting access and enforces an organisation's standards and policies to telephony configurations on a single web GUI whilst also providing reports on all performed operations.

The Uplinx Provisioning System assists in creating, updating and deleting users, phones, Extension Mobility profiles, voicemail and all associated end user objects in Cisco Unified Communications Manager and related telephony servers (Cisco Unity Connection, Cisco Unified Presence, Microsoft Active Directory, Exchange and Lync).

Features

Easily perform commissioning

Enable site administrators or customers to perform provisioning

Reduce cost

Avoid time consuming operations

Increase employee satisfaction

Free up time of your IT experts

Provision correctly, first time, every times

Provisioning_System_Workflow

Simplify day-to-day MACD provisioning

Benefits of the Uplinx Provisioning System for Cisco Unified Communications include:

  • A single web interface to provision all end-user required configurations.
  • Allow basic trained staff to carry out day-to-day MACDs.
  • Console for Helpdesk: MACD requests are received via a support tool or email.
  • Limit access for site administrators, customers or helpdesk to manage their 'own' users and phones and specify which settings can be modified by pre-defining available values.
  • Eliminate configuration mistakes by defining site and location based parameters which allow everyone to perform prvovisioning without prior knowledge. A single customisable interface that only provides editable fields that are relevant to a specific site or UC deployment.
  • Perform any MACD operation in less than 30 seconds including email notification!
  • Re-use information from Active Directory to prefill location based templates to reduce efforts and to minimise data entry errors.
  • Email notifications to requester, end-user or administrators.
  • Automatic detection of added, changed or deleted users in the enterprise through the Active Directory change tracker.
  • Portal page (Self-service or to place orders).
  • Audit trail and full reporting on provisioning activities.
  • Bulk deployment.
  • API Integration allows your organization to further leverage the Provisioning System by integrating it into 3rd party systems. Provision users and devices from your existing systems with less than 10 lines of code.
  • Provides workflow for a help desk with provisioning console, reporting on changes and requests, pre-fill email to notify requester.
Overview video of Uplinx Provisioning System for Cisco    Simplify everyday MACD provisioning for Cisco

Supported Components

Cisco Unified Communications components:

  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)
  • Cisco IM and Presence server (IMP/CUPS)
  • Cisco Unity Connection (CUC)

and the following Microsoft components:

  • Microsoft Active Directory (optional)
  • Microsoft Exchange Email and Unified Messaging (voicemail)
  • Microsoft Lync for presence and Remote Call Control (RCC)
  • Microsoft Active Directory to retrieve, track and provision end user information

with the following end user objects:

  • CUCM end user and associations
  • All available phones (Hard phones and all softphones incl Jabber) with allocating extension. Auto-registered phone deployment.
  • Cisco Extension Mobility - Device Profiles and extensions
  • Voicemail on Unity Connection and Exchange
  • Cisco Mobility (Remote Destination and RD Profiles)
  • IM and Presence services configuration

Licensing

The Uplinx Provisioning System is licensed based on the number of users or phones configured on CUCM and the number of CUCM clusters that need to be supported. Maintenance and support subscription ensures compatibility with new Cisco releases.

Contact

Please contact us or email to to obtain more information and to indicate your interest of this product.

Screenshots + Videos

Introduction in 2 minutes

Explainer video of Uplinx Provisioning System for Cisco telephony

MP4 (HD)

Video Presentations and Screenshots

Simplify everyday MACD provisioning for Cisco     Screenshots of Uplinx Provisioning System for Cisco
System Overview - Video presentation of Uplinx Provisioning System for Cisco telephony System Demo -Uplinx Provisioning System for Cisco telephony

Documents

Datasheet

ROI Whitepaper - How Enterprises Can Reduce Costs and Increase Return on Investment with the Uplinx Provisioning System

FAQ

Question What does the Provisioning System do?
Answer

The Uplinx Provisioning System is a commissioning system for the support of daily changes (MACD) required in operations of a deployed Cisco Unified Communications telephony system.
It allows phone administrators to easily add, update or delete all objects required for a telephony end user. It supports the following objects: CUCM endusers, device profiles, phones, voicemail (on Cisco Unity Connection and Unity Enterprise), Cisco Unified Presence, Microsoft Active directory, Exchange email and voicemail and Lync. It has been designed to support all daily end user oriented MACD operations and can be performed by a less skilled operator.
The Provisioning System removes the need for support staff to log onto production Cisco UC servers. It allows a less skilled operator to perform advanced commissioning tasks. It also enforces an organisations standards and policies to telephony configuration by performing real-time data validation from a single web GUI. Optionally, it can also provide administrative scopes so that a site telephony administrator can only access its own site user's and phones.

Question What doesn't the Provisioning System do?
Answer

It does not support "expert" configuration operations such as provisioning call routing information or the configuration of a new site to an existing Cisco UC deployment.

The Uplinx Provisioning System only supports end user oriented operations and objects required for telephony users across all Cisco and Microsoft servers. System objects such as any route plan objects (partitions, CSS, route patterns, translations, gateways) are not supported. The Provisioning System covers 95% of all Cisco Unified Communication's daily end user operations of an enterprise. Cisco UC system design and implementation will always require a specialist due to the inherent complexities with setting up this information to suit each organisation's unique requirements.

Question Can I bulk import 100 phones for a new site with the Uplinx Provisioning System?
Answer

Yes. Bulk imports are supported. Alternatively, bulk imports can be run from a custom written application with few code lines by using the Uplinx Provisioning System API. (please see tab API-Integration)

Question How can you equate the cost savings of the Provisioning System?
Answer

The Provisioning System saves costs by its ability to:

  • Save your UC experts time. Depending on the complexity to add all required configurations for a new/update/delete user in an enterprise UC deployment, realised time savings of up to 20 minutes per MACD can be achieved through the use of the Uplinx Provisioning System. Also, through the use of a single simplified screen, the Provisioning System allows for MACDs to be delegated to lower skilled staff to free your experts from MACD requests.
  • Saving by delegating to lower skilled staff. Through the use of a single simplified screen, the Provisioning System allows standard operations to be delegated to lower skilled staff to free your experts from standard requests. The Provisioning System allows for business rules to be enforced allowing the Provisioning Screen to only present those fields that require changing. Auto validation ensures that data is validated against the Cisco CUCM prior to the provisioning job being actioned.
  • Saving in training costs. By no longer requiring support staff to log onto Cisco UC servers, there is no longer any requirement for an organisation to have its support staff Cisco UC trained.
  • Savings in troubleshooting time. Creating all configuration objects (such as CUCM user, phone, device profile, voice mail, RDP) on several Cisco servers has become a complex process which requires a lot of training and understanding of Cisco specific technology. This process is challenging for experts and has become impossible for less skilled users, especially in large enterprises. The more servers that need to be accessed increases the chance of a phone administrator to make a mistake. These types of mistakes are costly as it may require all servers touched during the provisioning job to be revisited. As the Provisioning System is an automated and rule based process which validates entered data and operations, mistakes are eliminated and even complex actions are performed correctly, first time, every time.
  • Saving in integration costs. The system can be easily integrated into an existing Enterprise Configuration Management (ECM) to include provisioning of end users into their Cisco Telephony system via the Provisioning System API.
  • Savings in standardization of configurations. Economy of scale benefits can only be achieved with a standardized process and standardized setup procedures. The Uplinx Provisioning System ensures that all users and devices are configured to an organisation's standards. This is enforced through the core configuration/job templates which are created based on sites. These templates only need to be configured once and are used to enforce standards. This then leads to savings in maintenance, troubleshooting and user support.
  • Automation by Syncing to Active Directory. Automatic user change detection in Microsoft Active Directory allows a complete sync of all user related objects (users, phones, Cisco Extension Mobility profiles and voicemail) to Active Directory by a rule and template based system. Our Auto Provisioning for Cisco makes it easy to perform fault free provisioning.

Question What kind of integration does the Provisioning System offer?
Answer

The Provisioning System integrates with other systems:

  • Email integration: Sends out email notifications to site administrators and end users on the receipt and completion of MACD jobs.
  • Intranet based portal which allows endusers to submit MACD requests. This can be integrated into an organisation's Intranet. Uplinx provide this code with the Provisioning System.
  • APIs to submit requests to the Provisioning System by other systems (see API section). This is to integrate enterprise systems such as Enterprise Commissioning systems, Human Resource Management systems and service desks with the Provisioning System. With this integration, it is possible for an MACD related change in a HR system to trigger a telephony MACD job in the Provisioning System. As there are a vast array of HR and service desk applications in the market place, the Provisioning System offers a set of APIs based on industry standards which can be interfaced with an organisation's existing systems.
Question What API interfaces are provided?
Answer

The following two Web services on the Uplinx Provisioning System allow for easy integration into other applications:

  • Commissioning Engine API: Submit and process commissioning requests by the Uplinx Commissioning Engine
  • New requests API: Push information and requests to the submit screen and start the workflow by your case or ticketing system.

The Web services on the Provisioning System support XML SOAP over HTTP and can be accessed over the network via any standard programming language which supports Web Services clients. All popular programming languages and platforms support Web service clients such as Java, .NET, PHP.

Question Can Uplinx provide integration services for its API?
Answer

Uplinx Software offers integration services to work in cooperation with the application owners within an organisation of the system they want to directly interface to the Provisioning System via its published APIs. If there are no experts within an organisation with the necessary application knowledge and programming skill for the system in question, we would be happy to engage the necessary experts to provide a full turn-key solution.

Question How is Active Directory supported?
Answer

Microsoft Active Directory is used to source data for commissioning requests to the Provisioning System to help in populating provisioning field information. The re-use of data from Active Directory ensures that the user's configuration objects are correctly provisioned in the Cisco UC servers. Active Directory is also used for site administrator login authentication and to optionally limit access to an end user's phone.

Question What is the change tracker for Active Directory?
Answer

The change tracker can be optionally enabled per site to track changes within Active Directory. Changes found to AD users, such as added, updated or deleted AD users can start the workflow in the provisioning process. It sends out a list of changes found which allow a telephony administrator to efficiently act on these user changes. Changes are displayed at the bottom of the Provisioning System console and can be easily pushed into the screen to create/update/delete telephony objects.

Question Does the system support auto commissioning?
Answer

Yes. Uplinx Auto Provisioning for Cisco minimizes provisioning effort and provides fault free provisioning based on rules and templates. Provisioning can be run fully automated based on rules, or if supervision is desired, a site administrator may approve and update commissioning jobs created by the system.

Alternatively, the Uplinx Console allows performing complex and non-standard operations at hoc for a site administrator or help desk operator. Only a trained phone administrator or service desk operator may understand the telephony requirements of a new phone user and will select the correct telephony class for a user when no rule or information in Active Directory is present. Human intervention is required when varying models of IP handsets may be required for different users.


Auto provisioning may not fit into any enterprise due to the disparate and complex nature of todays business processes and systems. Merging current business processes into one may not be an option or requires to many organizational changes. For example, Auto Provisioning integration into a HR system requires that the HR system contains decision elements such as telphony classes (is the user a standard user, call center user, assistant or manager?). The person entering the HR record would need to make the decision on behalf of a telephony administrator.

The Uplinx Provisioning System for CIsco and Microsoft Exchange and Lync is an "off the shelf" solution which can be configured through its job templates to cater for the majority of organisations telephony support requirements. It offers various integration options such as the Console for operator based provisioning and/or rule based semi-automated provisioning.

Question Does the system include a Self Service Desk for end users?
Answer

Yes. A simple Self Service portal is included and allows an end user to reset its PIN and passwords on Cisco CUCM and Unity Connection. It can be customized and can be deployed on an Intranet server to perform actions through the Uplinx API.

More complex operations require the attention of a telephony administrator to ensure the correct information is included in a provisioning activity. The Provisioning System however comes with a Web Portal which allows end users to submit requests to a site telephony administrator. The telephony administrator can then efficiently fulfil the request and email out a notification of the completed request.

Question Can the system restrict access on a centralised, multi-tenanted CUCM?
Answer

Yes. Administrative Scopes are available so that site administrators of multiple tenants have only access to users and its configuration objects within scope. In conjugation with Active Directory rules, access can be restricted even if multiple tenants are on the same Cisco Callmanager or Cisco Unity Connection server.

Administrative Scopes consists of a set of rules which can limit access of specific telephony administrators to specific end user telephony objects per site. For example, access can be restricted on the membership of an end user in an Active Directory Organizational Unit or a phone device pool, or a site extension range. Administrative scopes are then assigned to telephony administrators to limit visibility and operations.

Question Can we have a trial version for testing purposes?
Answer

We only issue trials to customers for use in their own dedicated Proof Of Concept (POC) environment. We require an NDA to be signed and a test plan outlining the requirements and criteria that need to be met for an organisation to move forward with purchasing the system.

We offer a remote customer lab which allows you to login and experience for yourself how easy and quick it is to use the Uplinx Provisioning System. This lab is regularly updated with the latest releases of our software applications so the latest features can be tested. Please contact us to organise access to our remote lab or to acquire trial software.

Question What reporting does the Provisioning System support?
Answer

The Provision System includes a set of standard reports which include executed jobs and details of performed steps on the telephony servers, job statistics per phone administrator or per site, and user audit logs. Job statistics include the number of MACDs provisioned for a complete environment, region, site, or individual phone administrator. These reports can be used for usage based billing (how many jobs executed per site in a time period).

Question Can we have a presentation and demo?
Answer

Certainly, please contact us with details about your requirements and telephony setup.

Question What are the costs?
Answer

The Provisioning system is licenced based on the number of clusters and phones it is required to support. The first years maintenance is included in the purchase price. Maintenance is then charged on an annual basis on the anniversary of the purchase of the initial licences.

Question What support is provided?
Answer

8x5xNBD software support is provided for the provisioning system software.

Question Do we have to purchase a new version once we upgrade our servers?
Answer

No, all versions are included in the annual software maintenance which must be ongoing to receive updates.

Why Use It?

Question Why choose the Uplinx Provisioning System?
Answer

The Uplinx Provisioning System has been designed from the ground up to efficiently and effectively service MACD requests within an Enterprise. Uplinx has concentrated on delivering a system specialising in servicing MACDs as these requests represent over 90% of changes made on working Cisco and Microsoft UC environments. By focusing on this requirement, Uplinx has been able to deliver a system that can be easily fine-tuned to provide a simple and centralised interface that allows for user data to be provisioned across multiple UC servers correctly and successfully, first time, every time.
Our simple operator console reduces the complexities generally associated with provisioning user information across multiple Cisco and Microsoft UC servers. By simplifying the provisioning interface, our system lends itself to allowing non-skilled UC staff to service MACD request, leaving skilled Cisco UC staff to concentrate on more complex tasks.

Question How does the Uplinx Provisioning System compare to Cisco Prime Collaboration?
Answer

Cisco Prime Collaboration is Cisco's latest end-to-end provisioning and monitoring solution for Cisco's suite of UC and video products. It has integrated Cisco Unified Provisioning Manager (CUPM) into the overarching Prime package. The key aspect to Prime Collaboration is that it can be used to centrally configure all aspects of a Cisco UC and video environment including call routing information and physical devices such as voice gateways. However, being capable of supporting the provisioning of all aspects of a cisco UC environment makes Cisco Prime Collaboration a very complex system to configure with rules to allow for all the configuration permutations that the system supports. Generally, an organisation will need to change its support workflow to reflect how Prime Collaboration supports MACDs.

In general, the approach for handling MACDs within Prime is to treat each request as ticket and use a wizard to walk through each of the configuration steps/decisions before CUPM executes the necessary changes on the different Cisco UC servers.

In comparison, the Uplinx Provisioning system provides:

  • A fully automated provisioning system based on Extension Mobility and defining an LDAP source such as Microsoft Active Directory as the source of truth for user data. Any changes to user contact information in the LDAP source will trigger an automatic update to the appropriate UC servers.
  • A centralised console where operators do not need to make decisions but populate a few select fields on a single console screen and then press the submit button for the MACD to be actioned. Data is sourced from LDAP sources and used to pre-populate fields. Any operator data fields can be validated by the Provisioning system engine to ensure they are correct prior to processing.
  • A non-synced system that does not require a migration strategy, no import of data and no master/slave architecture enforcing changes through its own interface. Our stateless design keeps all data on the primary servers such as CUCM or Microsoft Active Directory and allows you to update data received from such systems in any way. No sync state is present - hence there is no need to build redundancy into the system. If a failure does occur MACDs can still be performed directly on the primary servers. For example, users with phones can be added on CUCM by the provisioning system, then manually modified on CUCM and then again updated via the Uplinx Console.
  • Support of multiple clusters and locations.

Cisco Prime Collaboration is an excellent tool for enforcing standards across all configuration items associated with a Cisco UC deployment. However, this comes at a cost with rigid rules and defined workflows that may not necessarily fit into an organisations existing service desk workflows. The complexities of configuring Cisco Prime Collaboration generally mean that the installation itself becomes a rather large and costly project.

In contrast, the Uplinx Provisioning System can provide a flexible and simplified interface for supporting MACDs as this is all the system concentrates on. Installation is straight forward and Uplinx provide help during the installation phase as part of the purchase cost of the software.

Question Why purchase the Uplinx Provisioning System when Cisco Prime Collaboration is free?
Answer

Although Cisco UC 10 and upwards includes Cisco Prime Collaboration Standard when purchasing Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing and Cisco User Connect Licensing, annual maintenance and support needs to be purchased for Cisco Prime Collaboration Standard. In conjunction with the maintenance, the complexities of configuring Prime to work within an Enterprise environment lends itself to being deployed as a project piece of work. Cisco Prime Collaboration standard also only supports a single cluster.

With the Uplinx Provisioning System, the year one pricing includes annual maintenance and software support as well as installation support. Installation typically takes several days along with some prior collaboration sessions to agree on how the Provisioning System will integrate with the end customer's existing MACD processes. The Uplinx Provisioning system is very flexible on how information is presented to the operators charged with servicing UC MACDs. Back end configuration templates make the Uplinx Provisioning System very easy to configure and new site support can be configured in hours. The Uplinx Provisioning system is licenced based on the number of end devices that need to be supported across any number of clusters.

The Uplinx Provisioning System also supports Microsoft Lync and Exchange and leverages data contained in Active Directory.

Multi-Tenant

Multi-tenant management for Cisco Unified Communications for several tenants with centralised Cisco serversWhether your Cisco infrastructure is running on a shared (colocated) or dedicated infrastructure, the Uplinx Provisioning System enables your customers or internal departments to securely manage their own Cisco IP phone and users with a simple and secure web based management interface.

Ideal for Managed Service Providers or an internal IT Provider within your organization, the simplified Management Console allows for granular access to centralized Cisco UC infrastructure in a simple and safe manner. Granular access controls allow configuration policies and standards to be enforced on Cisco UC servers or Active directory rules whilst also providing reporting and logging on a per tenant basis.

Scale and reduce costs by sharing a centralized Cisco UC infrastructure such as gateways and route plans, whilst delegating management of phones, users, voicemail and presence to other business or customer administration functions such as service desks. Multi-tenant your Cisco Unified Communications environment by utilizing the Uplinx Provisioning System which will provide a path for increased profits through:

  • Maximize utilization of Cisco servers as a shared resource.
  • Faster deployment of UC features and improvements.
  • Enable customers or telephony site admins to control their own user configurations.

The Uplinx multi-tenant management solution included with the Uplinx Provisioning System provides secure access for hosted tenants to manage all their end user related server configuration from a single, easy to use, interface.

API-Integration

API to integrate Cisco Unified Communications with Enterprise Configuration Management Systems

By using the Uplinx Provisioning System, an Enterprise can now easily extend any existing Enterprise Configuration Management (ECM) to include provisioning of end users into their Cisco Telephony system. The Uplinx Provisioning System API and configuration platform offers a working API which allows submitting complex and complete provisioning operations within hours from any existing CMDB or ticketing systems. Other solutions require weeks or even months of software developer work for basic commissioning tasks and require a detailed understanding of the published Cisco internal APIs as well as laborious configuration and testing.

By utilizing the Uplinx Provisioning system API, once users are provisioned in Microsoft Active Directory, one simple call to the Uplinx Provisioning System API can add, update or delete all end user related objects on all involved servers. The required templates and logic are easily configured on the Uplinx Provisioning System web interface and within hours an integrated system will be operational.

The Uplinx Provisioning System API can be used to:

  • Perform creation, updating and deletion operations of all end user objects required for Cisco telephony servers such as (CUCM end user, device profiles for Cisco Extension Mobility, Extensions, Presence with Microsoft Lync or Cisco CUPS, Voicemail on Microsoft Exchange or Cisco Unity Connection)
  • Allocate free site extensions
  • Generate welcome email notification to end users containing telephony related instructions such as PIN and password details, Extension Mobility usage and training materials
  • Undertake logging of all actions of the platform for regulatory and operational compliance, change management, billing and issues tracing.
  • Integrate logging and provisioned objects back into the Enterprise Configuration Management (ECM) system