It’s a question we get a lot:  “But will the phones I bought so many years ago still work with the upgraded Cisco Unified Communications Manager version 10.5?”   The answer is a consistent “Yes.”

As with all hardware lifecycles, phones are developed, manufactured in great numbers and supported through maintenance contracts for a certain number of years.   Then it’s time for a manufacturer to incorporate new innovations, implement new standards and satisfy new user needs.

But when a Cisco phone goes End of Life, it’s not quite the end of the road.  It’s still usable.  It still gets the job done.  And it is still compatible with CUCM.  But while you are diligently upgrading your UC applications to keep up with the latest Cisco has to offer, your users are left with the same phone they’ve used because, well, it works.

Old Faithful:  The Cisco IP Phone 7900-series

When our first customers rolled out Cisco UC, Matt Hasselbeck was playing with the Green Bay Packers.  BlackBerrys were just beginning their rise in popularity.  Desktops were being refreshed with Pentium III’s and the Windows 2000 operating system.  CallManager version 3.3(4) and Unity 3.1(6) ran on the ICS 7750.  And the choice of IP Phone included the 7902G, 7905G, 7910G, 7912G, 7940G, 7960G and 7970G.

The oldest of these IP phones (testament to the popularity and longevity of the Cisco solution) have reached varying stages of the End of Life milestone schedule.  One milestone of interest is the Last Date of Support, which is the last date to receive hardware service and support for the phone.  Another, perhaps more important milestone, is the End of Software Maintenance Release date.  This marks the date Cisco stops developing, repairing, maintaining or testing the product software.  So although those oldest IP phones work, they are no longer part of the development lifecycle of current solutions.  The implications are much different for both cases.

These phones have evolved over time into the workhorse of the Cisco IP Phone lineup:  the current 7900-series models.  While new features have been added with each generation of the 7900-series, the product line doesn’t have – and will never have – the user-facing features we have become accustomed to.

Cisco IP Phone 8800 Series

8800

Enter the 8800-series, Cisco’s latest UC endpoints, to address demand by end users for features in the desk phone side of the collaboration equation. These phones offer:

  • Support for USB and Bluetooth headsets
  • Intelligent Proximity for Mobile Voice
    • Synchronizes call history and contact lists from mobile devices
    • Allows the user to move active calls anchored on the mobile device to the desk phone and back
    • Ability to connect a mobile phone or tablet to one of the 8851 or 8861’s USB ports to recharge the battery at every chance
    • Widescreen color displays that are easier on the eyes
    • Green for answer and red for decline brings the consistent, intuitive user interface of Jabber and Cisco Telepresence to the desk phone
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Even in the age of softphones and bring your own device (BYOD), the desk phone continues to be the choice of many users.  It doesn’t require a mouse and keyboard to operate, it can be used without a headset, it doesn’t have battery issues and it’s not a distraction.  If your users are pressing for new ways to do their work, don’t forget about the desk phone.

Migration Program

The business case to upgrade has never been better.   Cisco currently is taking your old phones as trade-in for one of the new phones.  Thinking about replacing your 7936 or 7937 IP Conference phones?  Trade them in for an 8831.  Ready for gigabit to the desktop?  Replace your 7940- and 7960-series with the 8841, 8851 or 8861.  You can even trade in your 300-series or 500-series SPA phones, or just about any other existing Cisco IP Phone for that matter.

Have a Tandberg or Cisco endpoint that you’ve wanted to replace with newer technology?  Yep, you can trade those in for one of the fresh new DX70, DX80, SX20, SX80 or MX-series endpoints.  And they’ll also take your Polycom or Lifesize video endpoint, or any other manufacturer in trade.

Finally, if you are considering replacing your current phone system with Cisco Unified Communications – you guessed it – Cisco will take the old phones as trade-in.

We refresh our desktops to provide the latest features and performance to users.  We upgrade our mobile phones frequently to get our hands on the next best thing.   It’s time we revisited the tools users need at their workspaces to communicate effectively.

And for you Colts fans, I don’t mean to imply Hasselbeck is too old…

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