Speaking to Comms Business Magazine, Karl Kocar, Consulting Systems Engineer, Cisco Systems UK & Ireland says in today’s IP centric communications environment Cisco believes that Voice and Data integration should be based upon a three layer model known as the Service Oriented Network Architecture (SONA).
“Voice and Data services share a common Application Layer that sits upon an Interactive Services Layer, which in turn provides middleware for the Network Infrastructure Layer.
Interactive Infrastructure services such as security, mobility, presence and call control are accessed and shared by Cisco’s Unified Communications applications such as telephony, video, web collaboration, customer contact and unified messaging. Application Layer products from traditional vendors such as Oracle, SAP IBM and Microsoft can also use the same Interactive Services thus providing common services across multiple users, devices and locations.
The Cisco Network Infrastructure Layer provides the foundation for SONA. It uses embedded intelligence in the network to reliably deliver voice and data Application Layer services to any device located anywhere on the network. The intention is to ensure that the user experience is virtualized and is not dependent on geography or the access device.
One of the keys to SONA’s success is its adoption of standard protocols such as SIP/SIMPLE, XML, vXML and SOAP. For example, Cisco Unified Communications products interoperate and happily coexist with presence based applications such as Live Communications Server from Microsoft and Sametime from IBM. Fully federated bidirectional presence can be shared to and from Cisco endpoints and customised presence information can even be shared with third parties that support advanced presence capabilities.
One of the notable successes of SONA has been at Significant who transformed its client facing communications by launching a sign language interpretation service using a virtual video enabled contact centre to enable better resource utilization and increase customer satisfaction. There are currently approximately 200 qualified sign language interpreters who use session management, identity and policy services to log into the contact centre. Using this virtualized agent approach to provide hearing impaired citizens access to public services, Significant’s video call centre service has removed the previous two week wait for access to an interpreter.
From a reseller perspective the delivery of integrated voice and data solutions based upon Cisco SONA is becoming widespread. Many resellers are focused on and having real success in specific vertical sectors including as Financial Services and Manufacturing.
The inherent ability for SONA to provide a shared services platform for third party applications is a real advantage of the architecture. To date over 200 Cisco compatible technology development partners have released products to market, providing resellers with a large number of value-added applications to offer their customers. For those resellers wishing to develop bespoke client applications Cisco recently announced the Cisco Unified Application Environment which allows rapid development of productivity applications on top of a service oriented architecture.”