Voice-Messaging System Comparison

This topic describes the main differences between Cisco Unity Express and Cisco Unity Connection.

The table shows the main differences between these systems:

Cisco Unity Express Cisco Unity Connection
Version 8.6 10.x
Platform Router with Service Module Server with Linux appliance
Port Capacity 32 250/500
Mailboxes 500 20,000
High Availability No Yes—Cluster
  • Cisco Unity Connection supports advanced features like Unified Messaging, Cisco SpeechView, Speech Recognition, Cisco Unified Survivable Remote Site Voicemail, and others.
  • Cisco Unity Express offers a powerful auto-attendant with a script editor.

The table shows the main differences from characteristics, scalability, and availability perspectives. If you need more than 500 users or high availability, choose Cisco Unity Connection. Features like Unified Messaging with Microsoft Exchange, for example, may also require Cisco Unity Connection. In smaller or distributed environments, Cisco Unity Express may be the right choice.

For a complete overview, go to the Feature Comparison—Cisco Messaging Products page athttp://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/unified-communications/unity/product_data_sheet0900aecd806bfc37.html.

Deployment Models

This topic describes the supported Cisco Unity Express deployment models.

Cisco Unity Express can be deployed in a centralized or distributed call control environment:

  • Centralized Cisco Unified Communications Manager
  • Distributed Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express

Cisco Unity Express also supports three primary messaging deployment models:

  • Single-site messaging
  • Multisite WAN deployment with centralized messaging
  • Multisite WAN deployment with distributed messaging using VPIM for networking

Although the call-processing deployment models for Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express are independent of the messaging deployment models in Cisco Unity Express, each has implications for the other that must be considered.

  • Ideal for branch office deployments
  • Integrated Cisco Unity Express and Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express router
  • Variety of office sizes: Up to 500 mailboxes
  • Voicemail, Integrated Messaging, auto-attendant, and optional IVR and timecard services

In the single-site messaging model, the messaging systems and messaging infrastructure components are all located at the same site, on the same highly available LAN. The site can be either a single site or a campus site that is interconnected via high-speed MANs. All clients of the messaging system are also located at the single (or campus) site. The key distinguishing feature of this model is that there are no remote clients.

A single-site Cisco Unity Express and Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express deployment provides an all-in-one Cisco Collaboration Systems solution with voicemail, auto-attendant, timecard, and IVR functionalities at a lower cost. This type of deployment is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses or branch sites that require a complete voicemail solution without depending on other sites.

This type of solution provides deployment flexibility and application integration with fewer devices to manage. The result is a cost-effective, integrated Cisco voicemail solution for IP phones in the branch or remote office as part of the full-service branch.

The same solution could use Cisco Unified Communications Manager instead of Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, but the cost would be significantly greater.

Cisco Unity Express supports multiple Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express remote sites:

  • Centralized voicemail and auto-attendant features
  • Ideal with a few users at each remote site

In the centralized messaging model, like the single-site model, all the messaging system and messaging infrastructure components are located at the same site. The site can be one physical site or a campus site that is interconnected via high-speed MANs. However, unlike the single-site model, centralized messaging clients can be located both locally and remotely. Cisco Unity Express supports multiple Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express remote sites. This type of deployment ensures centralized voicemail and auto-attendant features and is ideal for an environment with only a few users at each remote site.

Because messaging clients may be either local or remote, special design considerations apply to the following clients: Cisco Unity ViewMail for Outlook (Cisco Unity VMO), the use of the TRAP, and message-streaming features. Remote clients should not use TRAP and should be configured to download messages before playback. Because different features and operations for local and remote clients can cause user confusion, TRAP should be disabled on the voice ports. GUI clients should be configured to download messages and not use TRAP, regardless of whether the client is local or remote. This procedure also applies to Cisco Unity VMO for Cisco Unity Connection IMAP clients. The Cisco Unity Express TUI operates the same way for both local and remote clients.

  • Cisco Unity Express provides distributed voicemail at each remote office. Voicemail messages are sent between systems.
  • Integration with other products using VPIM:
    1. Cisco Unity Connection
    2. Third-party products

A distributed messaging model consists of multiple single-site messaging systems that are distributed with a common messaging backbone. There can be multiple locations, each with its own messaging system and messaging infrastructure components. All client access is local to each messaging system, and the messaging systems share a messaging backbone that spans all locations. Message delivery from the distributed messaging systems occurs via the messaging backbone through a full-mesh or hub-and-spoke type of message-routing infrastructure.

In the distributed messaging model, Cisco Unity Express provides distributed voicemail to each remote office. The result is efficient networking of Cisco Unity Express systems across different locations. For interbranch communications, voicemail messages are sent between Cisco Unity Express systems at each site.

Cisco Unity Express Integration

This topic describes the Cisco Unity Express integration options with different call-processing systems.

IP phones are controlled by a call control system:

  • Call control systems for integration include Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, and Cisco Unified SRST router.
  • These call control systems can integrate with Cisco Unity Express to provide voice-messaging functionality.
  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express is the most likely choice for a cost-effective branch solution.

A call control system, such as Cisco Unified Communications Manager, controls Cisco IP phones. Cisco Unity Express can provide a voicemail solution when it is integrated with the call control system. Cisco Unity Express supports integration with the following call control systems:

  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager
  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express
  • Cisco Unified SRST router

Protocols that are used between Cisco Unity Express and Cisco Unified Communications Manager are as follows:

  • IP phones are controlled via SCCP or SIP through the call-processing system.
  • Cisco Unity Express is controlled via JTAPI (via CTIQBE) from Cisco Unified Communications Manager. JTAPI supports telephony call control. It is an extensible API that is designed to scale for use in a range of domains, from first-party call control in a consumer device to third-party call control in large distributed call centers.
  • The MWI on the IP phone is activated when Cisco Unity Express communicates a change of mailbox content to Cisco Unified Communications Manager via CTIQBE. Cisco Unified Communications Manager sends an MWI message to the phone to change the state of the lamp.

Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express is the most likely choice for a cost-effective small office or branch solution. With Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, you integrate Cisco Unity Express with SIP.

MWI information is also exchanged across the SIP interface. Cisco Unity Express supports SIP Subscribe/Notify and Unsolicited Notify methods for generating MWI notifications in both the Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express and SRST modes.

Notification for Scheduled Backup

This topic describes the Cisco Unity Express message notification for scheduled backups.

  • Administrator can receive notifications of results for scheduled backups.
  • Create schedule and define voice and text notifications via email, e-page, or voicemail.
  • Settings are defined for each backup, not the user account.
  • Notifications can be generated for backup status:
    1. Success or failure with details
    2. Failure details

The administrator can receive notifications of the results of scheduled backups. A backup schedule can be configured for voice and text notifications. The notification settings are defined for each backup, not for the user account.

Because a scheduled backup will generally run late at night or during nonbusiness hours when the administrator is not onsite, Cisco Unity Express can be configured to send notifications of the results of a scheduled backup.

Notifications of the results of a scheduled backup are sent to the administrator via email, e-page, or voice message. The results notification is placed in a mailbox and indicates the success or failure of a backup.

The notification consists of a short message informing the administrator that a scheduled backup has failed or succeeded. In the case of a failure, the administrator will be able to access Cisco Unity Express and identify the reasons for the failure and take any necessary actions.


This topic describes message notification in Cisco Unity Express.

  • Urgent or new message arrival triggers notification.
  • A message notification can be sent to multiple destinations simultaneously.
    1. Up to four numeric destinations (telephone numbers)
    2. Maximum of two text destinations (email, text)
  • Optional message notification cascading: for example, page Fred, wait 10 minutes, then send Joe an email.
  • Notification cascading stops when the message is saved or deleted.

Cisco Unity Express supports remote message notification. The Cisco Unity Express system notifies the user upon the arrival of all new or urgent messages.

Each mailbox (individual and GDM) can be configured with notifications that are sent to multiple destinations simultaneously. Users or administrators can configure notification destinations and manage a notification schedule for each destination using the TUI, GUI, or VoiceView Express.

Message notification cascading allows notifications to be sent to a widening circle of recipients. For example, the administrator may create a hierarchy of message notifications for a technical support department as follows:

  • The first message notification is sent immediately to the front-line technical support representative pager.
  • After a delay of 15 minutes, the next notification is sent to the department manager pager.
  • A third notification is sent to an employee in the problem-resolution group after a delay of 30 minutes.

Notifications continue to cascade according to the options that are selected until a recipient saves or deletes the message.

Distribution Lists

This topic describes Cisco Unity Express distribution lists.

  • Cisco Unity Express distribution lists send voicemail messages to a predefined list of recipients, including both public and private lists.
  • Administrator can define up to 25 public lists (and All Users).
  • Individual users can define up to five private lists.
  • Distribution lists can include nonsubscriber numbers.
  • Broadcast messages are similar to distribution lists, except messages are delivered to multiple recipients as top priority.

Cisco Unity Express supports the use of distribution lists as follows:

  • The public and private distribution list function of Cisco Unity Express allows callers to address a voicemail message to a list of predefined recipients, saving time and minimizing keying errors.
  • Cisco Unity Express includes an All Users public distribution list and the capability for a privileged user to define up to 25 other public lists.

Cisco Unity Express administrators and end users can configure distribution lists to include nonsubscriber numbers along with subscriber numbers. When sending a message to a distribution list containing nonsubscriber numbers, Cisco Unity Express delivers the message directly to the mailboxes of subscribers and calls the nonsubscriber numbers and plays the message.

Broadcast messages, like distribution lists, deliver messages to multiple recipients. Broadcast messages can also be assigned a priority. The top priority can be assigned to important communications in the voice-message queue. These special messages are played before any other messages and will remain in the mailbox until the messages are completely retrieved or have expired, helping ensure that essential communications are received.

Integrated Messaging

This topic describes Integrated Messaging on Cisco Unity Express.

  • IMAP provides access to voicemails.
  • Cisco Unity Express desktop messaging access provides simple, native access to voicemail, such as Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Express, or Lotus Notes.
  • The existing messaging infrastructure is integrated with IMAP email clients.

The Integrated Messaging feature on Cisco Unity Express allows voicemail users to retrieve, delete, and change the state of their voice messages through IMAP.

Taking advantage of the existing messaging infrastructure and IMAP email clients, Cisco Unity Express desktop messaging access provides simple access to voicemail from Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Express, and other applications. Cisco Unity Express also supports IMAP access on the iPhone.

The Cisco ISM (ISM-SRE-300-K9) supports up to 50 IMAP sessions. The Service Module (SM-SRE-910-K9) supports up to 250 IMAP sessions.


This topic describes Cisco Unity Express schedules.

  • Cisco Unity Express supports holiday schedules. A customized auto-attendant prompt can be played during defined holiday periods.
  • The holiday prompt is easily updated by using AvT.
  • A business-hours schedule allows up to four different prompts to be played based on the time of day.

Cisco Unity Express supports the use of time-based schedules:

  • Holiday schedules: Cisco Unity Express allows you to define holidays and set up a customized auto-attendant prompt to be played during holidays. These prompts, which are easily updated through the AvTfeature, can give you customized information about the operation of the business or special events.
  • Business hours: The business-hours function allows the administrator to define up to four schedules. This function can provide different auto-attendant prompts that are played based on the time of day, without the need for manual intervention.

Cisco Unity Express Auto-Attendant

This topic describes the Cisco Unity Express Auto-Attendant feature.

  • Built-in auto-attendant includes dial-by-name, dial-by-extension, and return-to-operator features
  • No need for operator assistance
  • Custom auto-attendant with Cisco Unity Express Editor
  • Multilevel auto-attendant feature with up to four flows
  • Greeting management using AvT

Cisco Unity Express has a built-in auto-attendant with dial-by-name, dial-by-extension, and return-to-operator features. The standard auto-attendant services that are provided with Cisco Unity Express simplify self-service for callers by allowing them to quickly reach the right person, 24 hours a day, without the assistance of an operator. Users can return to an operator at any time if they need more assistance.

Cisco Unity Express offers two standard auto-attendant options:

  • One includes dial-by-name and dial-by-extension features.
  • A second allows single-digit dialing for up to nine users or groups.

A web-based auto-attendant editor allows the administrator to change the parameters of the built-in auto-attendant, which makes managing and updating the call easy enough for a nontechnical user. For more advanced functions where the auto-attendant structure needs to be modified, the administrator can use the Cisco Unity Express Editor.

Administrators can create a custom auto-attendant with Cisco Unity Express Editor. The Cisco Unity Express Editor is a Microsoft Windows GUI-based visual scripting tool that gives administrators a simple way to create separate, customized auto-attendant flows in addition to the system auto-attendant.

Using the Cisco Unity Express Editor, system administrators can create up to four multilevel auto-attendant flows that provide hierarchical DTMF-based menus. The multilevel auto-attendant allows callers to reach individuals, departments, or prerecorded information such as directions or business hours. It also provides customizable time-of-day or day-of-week call management.

Additionally, administrators can easily record custom auto-attendant prompts through the Cisco Unity ExpressAvT feature. The administrator can record prompts by using AvT, through the TUI, or by using an offline WAV file recording. This ability allows auto-attendant administrators to modify prompts without needing GUI access to change filenames. Alternative greetings can also be used.

The AvT application is a telephony-based interface that allows Cisco Unity Express to offer administrators the opportunity to record new audio prompts or delete existing custom audio prompts.

User Access

This topic describes the user access to Cisco Unity Express.

With Cisco Unity Express, phone users can easily and conveniently manage voice messages and greetings:

  • Intuitive telephone prompts
  • Easy-to-use visual voicemail telephony user interface
    1. VoiceView Express
  • Straightforward GUI
    1. Simple administration and management

Cisco Unity Express users can manage their voice messages and greetings with these features:

  • Intuitive telephone prompts allow users to access menus easily.
  • VoiceView Express is a visual voicemail telephony user interface. VoiceView Express allows voicemail subscribers to browse, listen to, and send messages. Users also can manage their voicemail messages from their IP phone displays by using softkeys. This feature is an alternative to the normal TUI for performing common tasks.
  • Cisco Unity Express includes a straightforward GUI for simple user administration and management of personal settings such as greetings and recordings.