Using Cisco Conference Now Functionality for Your Company

Did you know Americans hold about 11 million meetings per day and of those, 85% of all meetings require remote attendees to join digitally? This is one of the reasons why it’s so important for admins to understand the ins and outs of the Cisco Unified Communications Manager, also known as CUCM or Call Manager. Understanding changes to this system may or may not be covered in future exams. However, this is one of those real-world topics that we make sure to cover to make your work life easier.

Most IT pros have worked with or heard of the Meet Me functionality on the CUCM. It has bugs, no security passcode, and complexity in including external callers.

That’s why in the version 11 of the CUCM, Conference Now was added natively to the system. Conference Now has a similar interface to Cisco Webex and with more features than Meet Me. No additional licenses or fees required. We’ve created a quick overview infographic for those less familiar with Conference Now.

Speaking of Conference Now, one of the most common questions that Ralph Smith, Senior Cisco Instructor, gets during his classes pertains to the newest CUCM and Conference Now. Watch our newest vBlog all about Meet Me, Conference Now, and IVR functionality added to the CUCM in version 11:

Want to learn more real-world tips as well as prepare for your Cisco certification exams? Contact us today for a free customized demo of our Cisco courses!

For more information on Cisco access points for your business, check out our “Buyer’s Guide to Wireless Access Points.” Within this guide, we’ve included: overviews of each Wireless Access Point Architecture, pros and cons to consider, and question sheets to make sure you choose the best option for your organization.

Wireless Access Points Guide

Transcript from the video:

Hey, everybody. I just want to take a couple minutes out today and talk about one of the biggest questions I get asked or the most common question I get asked right now in class, is what’s changed in the current version of code in Call Manager?

So the official Cisco courses are taught on 10.5, or 10.X code, while Call Manager has already shifted up to 11.5. So, one of the coolest features, I think, that is applicable to production networks, and those that are interested is that Cisco finally made a change to Call Manager 11.X, where they added a new conference solution built directly into Call Manager. That conference solution is now called Conference Now.

Now Conference Now has not replaced an older conference solution also named Call Manager called Meet Me, it’s still available. What’s the biggest difference between Meet Me versus Conference Now? Well, prior to 11.X code, Meet Me allowed us as administrators to go into Call Manager and boot a very very simple conference bridge. Right, so Call Manager itself could be a software conference bridge, and Meet Me basically allows us to go in, and create separate conference rooms, using a pattern or explicit Meet Me number.

Well, in 11.X code, Conference Now takes that concept and adds a little sizzle to it. So what’s the biggest difference? Something we’ve all been waiting for. We now have the ability to set up Conference Now, which uses an IVR, the Interactive Voice Response system feature, built into Call Manager, and so now when you log into a Conference Now bridge, you actually hear some interaction.

What’s your conference ID? And the conference ID is now configurable on the user account for the end user, so now, we have a little bit of an authentication added to our conference bridge. So we can go in and create individual Conference Now numbers, and then give users the individual self-service ID, which is then used to log into our conference bridge.

Versus Meet Me, which is just going to be a static Meet Me number, conference number, that we give to typically our managers, who then would email that or instant message it to their employees, with no authentication.

So that’s one of the most up-to-date, kind of neat features in Call Manager 11.X code. There are some additional features which we’ll talk about in future videos, but I just wanted to share that little tidbit because when I bring that up in class, it’s not officially covered, as of right now, it may not even be something on the exam, but it’s kind of nice to know that it’s built in, you guys can take advantage of it immediately, no additional licenses, takes you all of maybe 30 seconds to a couple minutes to set up, test it out, give it a shot, let me know how it works.