Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cisco Jabber for iPad Now Has Video

I know there are a fair number of people out there in Cisco land that have been waiting for Cisco to bring video capabilities to the iPad via their Jabber client. Well, the wait is finally over. 

On July 11, 2012 the Cisco Jabber for iPad client appeared in the AppStore. The new Jabber client (yes, it is a 1.0 release) is an application that provides instant messaging (IM), video and voice calling, corporate directory, and presence all in one client. 


Folks that follow my blogs at NetCraftsmen know that I have done testing with various 3rd party SIP clients. I started down that path because I needed a viable voice-only client that ran natively in Mac OS X. Almost a year ago, my interest in looking at 3rd party SIP clients was renewed because I wanted to have video capabilities on mobile devices. I was more than curious, I was responding to customer demand.

What my customers really wanted this whole time is for Cisco to provide a clean, easy to use, unified communications (er...Collaboration) client that delivered the promise of a ubiquitous, multimodal communication experience across multiple platforms. The promise was branded as Jabber.

Coming into June, I was getting a little antsy for Cisco to make a unified client available. Sure, there are several Jabber clients across multiple platforms. But, let's face it. Running one Jabber client for voice and another for IM is a bit clunky.

While at Cisco Live 2012 I was chatting it up with one of the TMEs and was able to see a preview of the Jabber for iPad application. Definitely more of what I was looking for and the next obvious question was: when? When will this app be publicly available? I was told by the end of June. Well, it finally appeared in the AppStore on July 11th. A bit of that lag can be attributed to the Apple approval process.

As David Mills asked: "What's in the box?"

Cisco gives a pretty clear description of the product:
Cisco Jabber for iPad is a unified communications application that provides instant messaging (IM), video and voice calling, corporate directory search, availability, and voicemail. 
Of course to leverage all of these capabilities the client expects that it has a Cisco Collaboration infrastructure on the back-end. This means you'll need some combination of the following, depending on what you are trying to accomplish:
  • Cisco WebEx Connect
  • Cisco Unified Presence (CUPS)
  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)
  • Cisco TelePresence Video Communications Server (VCS) 
  • Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence
A World of Options

From the admin guide, it appears that you can use the Cisco Jabber for iPad client in a couple of configurations. So, this means you have options. It also means you may have to make choices. The configuration you choose depends on what your current (or future) communication infrastructure looks like.

I like to look at this from the perspective of the deployment scenario.

IM and Presence Only

If you are using the client for IM and Presence only then you can either leverage the CUPS solution or the WebEx Connect service. The WebEx Connect service is a cloud-based model, which you can use if you have the appropriate WebEx subscription. CUPS is the solution you would use if your enterprise IM and Presence solution is hosted on your premises.

Voice and Video

The Jabber for iPad client can use either the CUCM or the TelePresence VCS for voice and video communications. This model is typically one where the infrastructure is hosted on your premises. Though, there are service providers that provide a hosted CUCM and/or VCS solution. In addition, you can use the Jabber for iPad client with the Cisco Jabber Video, cloud-based offering. The Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence is basically a hosted VCS solution.

The Whole Enchilada

If you are looking to do IM, presence, voice, and video then you will have to have a combination of solutions in place. You can use:

  • CUCM and WebEx Connect: WebEx is providing the presence and provisioning piece. You have to setup WebEx connect first and then add CUCM via the client settings.
  • VCS and WebEx Connect: Again, you configure the client to use WebEx for provisioning and then add the VCS via the client settings. 
  • Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence and WebEx Connect: (What a mouth full!) You should recognize a theme here: you provision via WebEx and add the Jabber Video via the client settings.
  • CUPS and CUCM: CUPS is providing the presence and provisioning piece. After you sign in, you add the CUCM via settings.

I know the goal is to have a working environment "without borders" but you still need to have rules. In the context of the Jabber for iPad client, those rules come in the guise of "minimum specifications". 

First, determine your deployment model and how you are provisioning the client. Then figure out if you have the "Right Stuff":
  • TelePresence VCS: You need X6.0 and later. You also need TMS 13.1 and later [NOTE: I have not tested this with the VCS Starter Pack, which doesn't leverage TMS for provisioning]
  • CUCM:
    • Voice: Release 7.1(5)+
    • Voice and Video: 8.0(3)+, 8.5(1)+, and 8.6(2)+ 
  • CUPS: 8.0, 8.5, and 8.6
  • Unity Connection: 8.5 and 8.6
  • WebEx Connect Service: 6.6 (web IM), 7.1, and 7.2
  • Jabber Video for TelePresence: 1.0
You also need an iPad (obvious). You need the iPad2 or iPad (3rd Generation). You can use WiFi, 3G, and 4G (depending on what your tablet supports).

Where to go from here...

The answer to that question depends on who you are and what kind of access you have to your Cisco UC infrastructure. If you are an end user, go to your admin. If you are an admin then I would say go here: Cisco Jabber for iPad Portal

You will want to look through the Data Sheet and the Admin Guide. I also recommend reading up on the FAQ. Let's not forget one of the most valuable resources that Cisco has to offer: the Cisco Support Community Jabber Client Forum.

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!

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