How Unity Connection Admin (UCA) Training Can Help Give Voice to Your Voicemail

by Toby Sauer

If you need help giving voice to your voicemail system then Cisco’s Unity Connection Admin (UCA) training can help. Voicemail is likely the second collaboration application most used by most companies. Some organizations use other technologies to communicate, such as texting, instant messaging, or email. The use of voicemail also seems to vary depending on the country where you live. I have been told by Cisco folks that voicemail is not used very much in Europe and other parts of the world, but it is much more common in North America.

Voicemail can bring extra functionality to your organization’s voice and video solution.

  • This functionality could be an automated attendant menu for outside callers so that the caller can reach the correct department by choosing options.
  • Another task might be to send an update to all employees verbally rather than using text.
  • A distribution list can be used to record a message to many people with no more steps than sending it to one person.
  • Perhaps you have employees that are having trouble remembering to check their voicemail messages. A missed voicemail can lead to unhappy callers when they don’t get a response to their message. A simple solution might be to forward the voicemail messages as an email attachment to the voicemail user’s inbox.

Cisco’s Unity Connection Administration (UCA) class is a practical administration course that teaches the basic and advanced functions of the Unity Connection unified messaging and voicemail system. While the current course uses Cisco Unity Connection version 12.5(1), the course content applies to 10.x, 11.x, and 12.x systems.

A two-day course taught on Thursday and Friday, UCA is usually paired with the Cisco Unified Communications Manager Administration (CMA) course which is taught Monday through Wednesday of the same week. However, the CMA course is not a pre-requisite for the UCA course in case you find it difficult to be out for a full week from work for training. You can attend CMA from Monday through Wednesday of one week and take the UCA course at a later date when offered.

After a short introduction to the integration with Cisco Unified Communications Manager, capacities, and possible architectures, the UCA course dives right into the process of building voicemail mailboxes. As with most applications, there are core functions that need to be configured. Items such as authentication rules, holidays, and schedules need to be considered and configured before you build mailboxes.

There are multiple ways to build mailboxes using Cisco Unity Connection. You can build a mailbox individually, in bulk using a spreadsheet, or import them from Cisco Unified Communications Manager or an LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) server such as Active Directory. Each method is explained and configured in the class.

Once the users have their mailboxes, you can consider other things, such as routing callers to a specific greeting or an automated attendant menu. Routing rules are used to send callers to different destinations based on the number the caller dialed, or their caller ID.

Let’s Automate It

Automated attendant menus are constructed using call handlers. Depending on how you configure a call handler, you can play greetings, transfer callers, and much more. Additional components such as directory handlers and interview handlers can also be added to your applications. Directory handlers allow a caller to find a person by dialing their name and interview handlers, which can be used to ask callers questions and record the responses. Creating auto-attendant applications can be challenging for new administrators. To make things easier, the class covers items to consider when planning the application, as well as the workflow for configuration.

Advanced Features To Consider

Once the core functions of Unity Connection are configured, the administrator can consider utilizing advanced features. A popular option is to synchronize the contents of the Unity Connection mailbox and the user’s email account. This feature is called Single Inbox. If a full synchronization is not desired, the user can still access their voicemail messages using their email client. In this case, the client uses the IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) protocol to pull the messages to the client.

Distribution lists are also useful if a user wants to send a voice message to multiple recipients at the same time. While this function has been replaced by email messages, there are still customers that prefer the intimacy of sending company messages verbally. Distribution lists make this task very easy to implement.

The final topics of the class cover ongoing maintenance. Tools such as the Disaster Recovery System (DRS) for backup and system restore are covered. Reporting and bulk administration tools are also in this module.

The lab in the UCA courses uses actual production VMs (virtual machines) for Cisco Unity Connection and Cisco Unified Communications Manager. You start the lab with a Unity Connection virtual machine that only has the integration to Cisco Unified Communications Manager pre-configured. The student configures all remaining items to achieve the desired functionality.

The UCA course is available as an open enrollment on-site or Webex class. Since voicemail is all about the audio, the student uses a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) software client installed on their local computer to record and playback greetings and messages. The on-site class uses a physical phone for this audio path.

If you want to know how to get the most out of your Cisco Unity Connection system, UCA is the class to take. I hope you found this helpful in making your training decision and see you in class soon.

Training Resources:
Cisco Course Catalog
Cisco Collaboration Courses
Unity Connection Administration (Call Manager) (UCA v12.5)
Communications Manager Administration (Call Manager) (CMA v12.5)

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