Cisco Administration is Tough

I had to do a few adjustments to the phone system. The Cisco administration is an unwieldy beast. I know non-technical people who find Avaya much easier when dealing with account adds and removes.

My first task was to setup a new phone. I wasn’t assigning this phone to anyone, staff will log into and out of it as needed. So I logged into Cisco Unified CM Administration and copied an existing phone configuration and entered the phone’s MAC address. But that wasn't enough. I also needed to assign an extension to this phone, even though no one was going to be using this extension.

Since there wasn’t an unused extension to assign to this phone I had to create an extension. The best way to create an extension is to copy an existing one and then edit the important fields.

Once I created the extension I then returned to the phone configuration and assigned the extension. Done.

None of this was rocket science, but you need to know the steps involved. The administrative software does not walk you through this common function.

I also needed to delete a user account. Since this is UM 9.x I had to convert the user to from a LDAP Synchronized User to a Local User. This made sense. Previously, in UM 8.x and earlier you would remove the user from the LDAP master, be that AD or OD or some other LDAP server, do a full LDAP sync and the user account would disappear. That is no longer the case. You cannot delete a LDAP Synchronized User until they are converted to Local User, but you cannot do this conversion if this user failed to sync the last time LDAP sync was performed. So be sure to convert the user to a Local User before removing them from the LDAP server.

I decided to keep the devices assigned to this user since I will assign them to a new user in the future. But I needed to remove her voicemail account. This involves logging into another server, which has a different interface. In this case I needed to remove the user or her phone extension from the LDAP directory, sync the voicemail system with the LDAP server and then delete her account from voicemail.

I now see why the Cisco phone customers I talked with let their phone intergrators handle Adds and Removes. The processes aren't difficult but they involve multiple steps and the administrative interface doesn’t provide a guide.

Cisco needs to improve the administrator experience.