Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data

Cisco Unified Communications

Review – UPLINX Report Tool for Unified Communications

Posted by loliveira em 09/04/2015


Olá Pessoal, a avaliação abaixo foi realizada em inglês mas em breve estarei traduzindo em português BR.

Hi folks, this is my first review about a software and in English, so … any kind of grammatical errors please, just ignore, this will be a personal opinion from one technician to another technicians with a one common objective: Review a tool to help you do a better quality work to your customers and save your time with several tasks like as-built documentations, detailed reports, surveys, assessments and all that you do manually today in deployments with Cisco Unified Communications.

I would like to thank Uplinx Software to help me in evaluating this tool by providing a full license. Apart from that, this review has been independantly performed by me for avvid.net to help the UC Professionals Community.


About us:

Before starting, let me present the reason why you will want this tool: I work with Managed Services (Unified Communications) as a Cisco Gold Partner here in Brazil and more and more customers are acquiring  this class of service. The benefit we provide is that the customer has only to provide power, space and cooling, all the rest is sold as a service, and all the rest… i mean ALL,… is responsibility of service provider. Not only the operation of the environment, but offering continuous improvements, reports, surveys, assessments, audit logs when necessary, backup reports and so on.

Well, when we have to deliver more things that only MAC´s (Moves, Add and Change) it is hard work to to access each solution manually to get the critical information for documentation. And we all know….this kind of job can take a long long time. Right? And here is a tool to do our jobs more efficient with Report Tool for Unified Communications from Uplinx Software.

My environment used to test the UPLINX Report Tool:

My Laptop

image01

Cisco environment:

  • UCM 8.6, 9.1 and 10.5.
  • CUPS 8.x and CUIMP 9 and 10.5
  • CUC 10.5
  • UCCX 8.x and 10.5
  • UCS – B Series and C Series
  • Vmware running on UCS´s B and C

Version of Uplinx Report Tool for UC used: 10.6.3 (26 March 2015)

The Tool:

Report Tool for Unified Communications is a very useful tool that is used to connect on Cisco Unified Solutions (vmware, ucs c and b are included) to collect informations about the solution and create reports about these informations collected in four simple steps like as vendor says:

image02

Think about the benefits of this kind of tool when you manage several clusters of UC Solutions

So…What information is collected by Report Tool ? Well … a very large amount of information that you see in Web administration page and via CLI of Cisco servers. You only need configure your system to enable the “connection” of Report Tool, assure the connectivity, put some informations that you want see on reports and what formats you need (CSV, DOC, HTML, CHM) and click on generate button to get the informations, the speed to generate the reports depends of size of cluster, speed of link that you are using to run the tool and so on.

The solutions suported is listed here:

image03

You can see some samples of reports here: http://www.uplinx.com/reporttool.htm click on Reports + Documents and choose the format from the solution desired.

How the Report Tool collect the informations? The tool connect on each solution individually in a specific method, CUCM/CUIMP uses AXL interface, CUC uses ODBC interface… take a look in the user guide inside the solution to learn how to connect in another solutions.

VERY IMPORTANT: Before use the Tool, have a quick look at the USER GUIDE available when you click on the Blue Question Mark  in right corner image04 of your Uplinx Report Tool. In the user guide you will view all requirements to use the tool in your system, what versions of UC systems is compatible with Report Tool, what ports will be used, how collect the informations for each solutions and all you need to know to use the software to generate your reports successfully.

You can download the tool and run it in a Demonstration Mode to perform your tests in your environment for your customers. All the settings is enabled, but the demo mode limits the outputs of reports (obviously).

To download the tool: http://www.uplinx.com/downloads.htm

TIP:It is possible to insert some CLI commands and the tool will run these commands for you  get the output and insert into the reports as additional chapters. This is handy to have reports of CUCM backup history (success or fail) without access the DRF page or CLI interface

User Friendly interface:

My opinion here will not be only influenced by the Olive Theme of Windows XP that I used for years in my desktop 😀 (lol) but also by the organization of the layout and simple interface of the Uplinx Report Tool.

You can create Profiles for each customer, set the ip address/hostname of solutions and they access credentials of the solutions of this customer and all will be save to this specific profile. For a new customer, create a new profile and repeat the process. Very simple.

In the Servers tab make sure that the Client Report Tool can reach each server using the TEST button to perform a connectivity test. If you use NAT you can specify the used ports to access the Cisco servers.

image05

In the Report Settings tab you can customize your reports, create or change templates, input informations about the customer and choose the formats that you want create the reports.

image06

In the Generate Reports tab, here is where the magic happens. Select the solution that you want to collect the Reports, click on Generate and enjoy your coffee seeing the process events below until the process finish.

image07

In the Audit Reports tab , reports collected from systems in different time intervals can be compared to identify what has changed. Very useful to perform troubleshootings. This audit reports work with CUCM and CUC configuration reports and Phone Inventory Reports

image08

Phone Inventory reports

In the Report Tool we have a “module” that uses the same connection stabilished to your CUCM and start HTTP/S connections in your registered phones to get several informations (firmwmare, locale etc) and one of this informations is very important: The serial number, used to build a phone inventory of your environment and delivery in a organized report to your customers.

image09

Limitations (yes… we have some) :

Well, we have a little limitations but not by the Uplinx Report Tool, but by Cisco Solutions and the Uplinx shows this limitations in very clear form. Take a look.

  • Licensing reports in Cisco UC version 9 and 10 (now in ELM – there are no APIs on ELM – please ask Cisco to include an API on ELM to access data).
  • Some enterprise and service parameters are missing for CUCM and CUPS/IM as these are not accessible (stored in XML files and cannot be read). (please ask Cisco to improve the AXL to include all enterprise and service parameters.)
  • Unity Connection: Cluster info.
  • User Management: Self-Provisioning.
  • Cisco Expressway configuration reports has various fields missing which can not be retrieved from the server via AXL or CLI.

As you can see, these limitations are not a very critical issue…. you can access the solution and get this information manually if necessary to insert in your reports, and lets hope Cisco enhance the AXL query methods for these objects.

NOTE: The tool worked with me even in VPN over a SSH Tunnel that I use to reach remote solutions.

Price List:

The price list of the solution have several flavors to attend your needs and your pocket (in US Dollars and Euros). And is very easy to buy with paypal.

Considering all the benefits and time savings that the tool brings to your team and your customers, the pricing is fair.

I´m using the professional license that give me one report client (machine running the Uplinx Report Tool) to several clusters.

You can check the US Dollars price list here: http://www.uplinx.com/reporttool-usd.htm
And Euros price list here: http://www.uplinx.com/reporttool-eur.htm

Conclusion:

The tool is very useful for several needs:

  • Very simple and friendly to use
  • Supports the main UC solutions from Cisco
  • Allows you to customize the reports as desired
  • Have several options to buy according your needs and the needs of your customer

Well …. now I want to see this tool being used by my UC Support team to improve the quality of reports from the UC Environments that we manage and delivery better documentations to my customers to reach the continuous improvement of their enviroments. And you ?

Anúncios

Uma resposta to “Review – UPLINX Report Tool for Unified Communications”

  1. dsobrinho said

    Legal. Muito bacana o software e o custo.

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