Cisco Callway – So Easy Even a Caveman Can Do it..

A 2 part series

As the Product Manager for Cisco at VoIP Supply I was recently challenged with getting VoIP Supply Cisco Small Business Telepresence Certified.  Of course I passed all of the exams with flying colors (Yay! We are Certified!) but as many people in the IT industry know passing a test and being able to use that knowledge are two very different things. So I set out to install and use Cisco Callway myself to determine if it is really user friendly and a viable alternative to premise-based video conferencing solutions.

Part 1 – What is Callway?Cisco_Callway

Part of the Cisco SB Telepresence offering is a hosted video solution called Callway. If you have ever looked into setting up an IP video conferencing solution for your office you no doubt have been overwhelmed.

You can do point-to-point which is pretty easy but are you really going to see a fast ROI on that steep investment?  For example, maybe you were quoted $8K for a single room system but then you’re going to need a friend for that room system to talk to.  So, $16K later and some messing with your firewall and all you have is the ability to talk to your other location.  You will get ROI from that but how long before you see ROI on $16K?

To really get the most from your video system you are going to want to:

(1)    Allow for multipoint video meetings – Do you have a 3rd location?  How about customers and partners?  Wouldn’t you like to talk with more than 1 of them at a time?

(2)    Assure that each worker that is out of the office has access to a video meeting- Do you have remote personnel? Salespeople on the road?  Work from home employees?

(3)    Share data from your PC with everyone on the video call – standing at a white board isn’t always the best solution. Video of a presentation on a projector will not give you the quality that you need to be effective.

If you want or need this functionality you would have to invest in expensive infrastructure for your server closet and have someone qualified to maintain it. An MCU, multipoint bridge, and  firewall traversal server are expensive, complex, and usually puts a fully functioning telepresence plan out of grasp for most small businesses.

Using hosted telepresence brings all this functionality back into the realm of the SMB. With a hosted telepresence plan, like Cisco Callway, Cisco keeps and maintains  the infrastructure.  You simply connect.

Callway is sold like a cell phone subscription.   

(1)    You choose your cell phone. In this case, you are going to choose your video endpoint. It may be a big room system connected to a 55in plasma display or it may be a webcam and speakerphone from your laptop.

(2)    You choose your service package.  Callway offers three levels of serve: Standard, Premium, and Jabber.

  • Callway Standard – offers 720p30 top resolution occupying 1.5Mbps of bandwidth.
  • Callway Premium – offers 1080p30 top resolution occupying 4Mbps of bandwidth
  • Cisco Jabber – ideal for desktop/laptop users – offers 448p30 resolution while using 768kbps of bandwidth
  • Add on your upgrades – If you want that multipoint experience that I mentioned above, you will need to add on a MeetMe bridge which allows either 6 or 12 parties to meet together on a video call from unique locations.

(3)    Activate your service – you agree to a one year contract and sign an electronic service activation. Sounds just like something you have done at the Verizon or AT&T store doesn’t it?

(4)    Once your Callway service is activated you can call anyone using the H.323 video standard including endpoints using Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize, or Aver.


Did you notice what was missing?  You will not have to have a technician come onsite and install your servers.  If you are using a desktop system or Jabber there is no waiting for your IT guy to come connect you. If you are using Jabber from a laptop equipped with a webcam and microphone, literally you just sign your activation agreement , install the client from the email you receive from Callway, and then you are making calls.

Advantage of Cisco Callway

The advantage of using Callway is the speed to deployment. You can decide on video conferencing in the AM and be using it company-wide by lunch time.  Another advantage of Callway is cutting-edge backend  technology and hardware. Maybe your server closet isn’t in great shape or maybe your network needs a little upgrading before you can think of deploying video conferencing. Well guess what, Cisco’s doesn’t!  If there is one company in the world that I would trust to host my video network it is Cisco.  If you have a high speed internet connection you are equipped to connect to Cisco’s industry-leading video infrastructure and take advantage of its global reach. Call any standards-based video endpoint anywhere in the world.


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