You’ve heard of Cisco Video Conferencing? Cisco WebEx? And Cisco TelePresence? Well we can now enjoy the combined experience of WebEx and TelePresence in the cloud. It’s called Cisco WebEx Collaboration Meeting Rooms Cloud, or “CMR Cloud” for short.

A Deeper Look

Take the WebEx experience you already know, add SIP URI access for Cisco TelePresence endpoints (and third party video devices, even Microsoft Lync in beta) to dial-in, and you have CMR Cloud. Up to twenty-five video systems can join a meeting, along with the traditional WebEx clients and audio-only callers. CMR Cloud will stitch together a unified meeting experience with:

  • Full audio, video and presentation integration
  • A unified roster list showing TelePresence participants with a special icon, similar to mobile device participants
  • Recording of video, Cisco WebEx client and audio-only
  • IVR with host PIN for Cisco TelePresence participants
  • Support for Personal Meeting Rooms with static URLs, passwords and PINs

This makes a great meeting experience that includes the best of TelePresence and WebEx, together.

In the newest release, CMR Cloud “3.0” based on WebEx Business Suite (WBS) 30, CMR Cloud is getting even better with:

  • Support for video endpoint call-back to SIP URIs
  • Support for the Cisco Proximity app for easy meeting join from supported Cisco TelePresence endpoints
  • Multi-streaming of video to WebEx clients, allowing for improved video quality and robustness in the event of poor network conditions
  • Microsoft Lync support, with 2-way presentation (in Beta)

CMR enables an experience that includes the best of @Cisco TelePresence and Webex #cdwsolutionsblog

Give me the Tech

When CMR Cloud enters the picture, the Cisco WebEx experience remains largely unchanged. The Participant List shows a new icon for Cisco TelePresence attendees, but the meeting experience is otherwise essentially the same — you simply experience completely superior video from Cisco’s Red Dot Award-winning endpoints, relative to that which you might receive from some notebook’s simple webcam.

The Cisco WebEx client participant list with Cisco TelePresence video and traditional participants
The Cisco WebEx client participant list with Cisco TelePresence video and traditional participants

In the CMR Cloud 3.0 release, WebEx clients also receive the option to initiate a video call-back to a video SIP URI, same as you might initiate to your desk or mobile phone.

The WebEx client now offers a SIP URI call-back feature
The WebEx client now offers a SIP URI call-back feature

Furthermore, the Cisco Proximity client may cross-launch with Cisco WebEx, allowing you to simply and easily join a CMR Cloud meeting from a Cisco TelePresence endpoint in a conference room.

The WebEx mobile app now features a cross-launch to Cisco Proximity to control TelePresence endpoints
The WebEx mobile app now features a cross-launch to Cisco Proximity to control TelePresence endpoints

Anyone who’s experienced a video call hosted on a Cisco TelePresence Server can tell you that the TelePresence portion of a CMR Cloud meeting is hosted on the same.

The TelePresence Server call lobby screen.
The TelePresence Server call lobby screen

Historically, these Cisco TelePresence Servers were the MSE 8710 blades in MSE 8000 chassis, but Cisco is migrating the cloud infrastructure to their virtual TelePresence Server platform hosted on Cisco UCS B-Series Servers. From the end-user perspective, this is a transparent move, as the features, look and feel of the two platforms are exactly the same.

But how, you ask, do they work together? What’s the magic? The answer is that CMR Cloud orchestrates a “cascade” between the TelePresence participants of the meeting and the WebEx participants of the meeting. This cascade carries all of the audio for both sides, along with a single stream of video and presentation. This means the WebEx clients see the “active speaker” (or most recent active speaker) from the TelePresence side, and vice-versa. Presentation retains the “take the ball” experience, and TelePresence endpoints “take the ball” by starting a presentation from a connected notebook or device (or, since quite recently, Cisco Proximity).

A high-level diagram of Cisco WebEx CMR Cloud’s combined TelePresence and WebEx architecture
A high-level diagram of Cisco WebEx CMR Cloud’s combined TelePresence and WebEx architecture

How Do I Get It?

To start with, you need Cisco WebEx: CMR Cloud is an add-on. You can enable as many or as few WebEx users in your organization as you’d like. After your order is placed, it generally takes 48–72 hours to add the feature to your WebEx site, after which users may be enabled via a tick box in the WebEx Admin console, or via WebEx APIs.

If you have a TelePresence endpoint or soft client, you’ll need the capability to dial business-to-business to reach the CMR Cloud, generally by way of your local infrastructure with Cisco Expressway or your cloud video registration service like CDW’s own CCC-VR.

When implementing a Collaboration solution, you can tap into a vast array of tools. The key is understanding how your employees work and developing a strategy that provides both the best user experience and alignment with your business goals. CDW Collaboration experts can help. Contact your account manager for additional information.

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