Cisco upgrades unified messaging software

Cisco Systems this week released an upgrade to its Unity unified messaging server with security features and support for a Web client that can allow end users with disparate e-mail clients to access voicemail from a PC.

Voicemail on Unity 3.1 can now be accessed with a Web browser client called Visual Messaging Interface (VMI) through Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.5 or higher. VMI can allow end users with different e-mail clients to access a Unity-based voicemail system, the company says. Prior to version 3.1, users could only access voicemail on a Unity server from a PC through Microsoft Exchange, which ties e-mail and voicemail boxes into a single interface.

While one step short of a cross-platform unified messaging client interface, VMI could allow an enterprise to deploy Unity as a voicemail server for non-Microsoft Exchange e-mail clients, while still providing unified voice/e-mail access to Exchange users.

Cisco has also bumped up the number of users that can attach to a Unity server from 5,000 to 7,500, and improved its failover capability to allow a backup Unity server in a redundant configuration to come online in case of a primary server failure. Also with 3.1, Cisco has tied its Host Intrusion Detection System hardware product into the server, allowing Unity servers to be scanned for unauthorized users.

International Data Corp. predicts that the number of unified messaging user mailboxes will grow from 3.1 million mailboxes installed this year to 21.7 million mailboxes by 2005.

Pricing for Cisco Unity 3.1 will start at $70 per seat for a voicemail-only version.

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