This article provides a brief overview of the solution, describes the MediaSense deployment models and gives information on how to improve upon the free user interface that Cisco provides with MediaSense at no additional cost. Cisco also provides extensive design, installation and upgrade, configuration, maintenance and troubleshooting resources online. While this article is focusing specifically on call recording and the "Search and Play" interface, all characteristics and features of MediaSense can be explored in the design guide.
Let's start with some call recording history first…
History of Cisco UC Call Recording
Before 2011, the only way to record phone calls in the Cisco IP telephony environment was to use one of several 3rd party products. Most of these solutions used “SPAN-based” recording. When SPAN (Switched Port Analyzer) is enabled on a switch port (or VLAN), the switch copies all network packets to another port where a recording solution detects the VoIP packets stores them as audio files.
Some also supported a more efficient "audio forking" approach provided by Cisco through the use of bridge functionality provided within the IP phone itself. Most Cisco IP phones contain the embedded conference bridge (“built-in bridge or BiB”), which, with proper CUCM configuration, will fork the audio streams of the phone call (for example, one for the agent voice and one for the customer voice) to the recording server.
|Built-in-Bridge (BiB) and SPAN Recording|
Introduction of Cisco MediaSense
Near the end of 2010, Cisco entered the call recording market and performed 3 great steps:
- Cisco introduced the MediaSense product that captures audio-streams duplicated by Cisco IP phone built-in bridge;
- At the same time Cisco released the version 15.2 of IOS (software that runs on Cisco routers) with media forking feature that duplicates the phone call RTP streams to Cisco MediaSense for recording;
- Cisco positioned MediaSense as the recording platform with API to 3rd party apps. MediaSense works on the network layer capturing and storing the phone calls but you need to turn to 3rd party vendors for business applications that work with call recordings, like speech analytics, quality management, agent training, etc.
Cisco MediaSense now supports the capture of media streams forked via:
- Cisco IP phones (models with built-in bridge) – to record employees’ Cisco phones;
- Cisco Unified Border Element (application run on Cisco IOS) – to record 3rd party SIP devices and external-to-external phone calls.
|Cisco MediaSense Recording|
Unfortunately, from the users’ perspective, MediaSense only provides a simple “Search and Play” web-interface that is not as feature-rich as most desire:
|Cisco MediaSense Search-n-Play User Interface|
The "Search and Play" interface is a free web-application provided by Cisco (with the source code) as an example of how to use the Cisco MediaSense API – this password-protected web-page allows user to perform basic search and play call recordings.
Cisco MediaSense API Enables Innovation
As a result of the API that Cisco makes available, most call recording software vendors now support integration with Cisco MediaSense to provide clients with more convenient user interfaces to access the call recording archive with features like:
- search recordings by date, time, phone number, employee’s name and client name;
- indication of a call direction (incoming/outgoing);
- logical grouping of records in case of call routing, putting on hold or parking and organizing a conference with several participants;
- email notification about new recorded call;
- search and playback interface on Cisco IP phone;
- option to playback recordings during a phone call (all call participants will hear the recording).
Free Call Recording UI For Cisco MediaSense
To provide additional features beyond what Cisco provides "out of the box" with MediaSense, one Cisco Solution Partner offers a free interface to Cisco MediaSense that contains all of the features listed above.
Additionally, their commercial “Aurus PhoneUP” application suite contains both a Cisco MediaSense interface and a complete call recording solution for Cisco UCM and BE 6000/7000.