Excited? Let's go.
I guess there is no better place to start than the heart of what drives collaboration across the world: Technology.
What core technologies skill sets do you need to know to thrive as a Cisco collaboration consultant/engineer?
CUCM is the core of it all. I don't need to say much here. You need to know it inside out and to do that there are key things/core component of CUCM that you must spend time knowing. They are a must. Did I say must? Yes I mean you must know them, otherwise you would be like a trades man going for a job without his tools, or a soldier going to war without being battle ready. Okay so maybe we should not associate CUCM with war and battles and soldiers, but indulge me...
The CUCM must knows are:
You cannot survive without understanding CUCM SBD and PKI infrastructure. This is made more critical as customers embrace the evolution of edge solutions, cloud solutions, hybrid based solutions and integration with other vendors eg Microsoft (Skype or Teams). You are going to need to deploy TLS at some point and TLS means certificates. Certificates means something probably outside of your comfort zones. CSRs, CAs, CRLs, CDPs.
In addition securing media as well as signalling is becoming a critical factor in enterprise solution deployments, hence you must understand CUCM encryption options: CAPF, LSC, SIPOauth.
Yes. another uncomfortable thing for legacy UC engineers. The advent of automation, the efficiency that it offers means that we need to automate some of our tasks and to do that we need to know the APIs to leverage for this. You must challenge yourself even if you do not have a programming back ground to. understand the CUCM AXL schema reference. Its much simpler than you think
I don't think I need to say too much on this as well. SIP is just so critical to everything today and not just CUCM. It is the number one VOIP protocol today. What is your SIP knowledge like? Do you understand in detail SIP architecture? You cant go far without it, it's as simple as that.
From my experience, I am yet to see a CUCM deployment without one of these two. CUCM IM&P is so popular now that it's becoming a core skill to have. The drive to collaborate more makes business embrace solutions that meet those needs. So time to fire up a lab if you have not already interacted with Jabber and IM&P.
Cisco voice gateways are so feature rich and as such I get a little unhappy when I see deployments that do not leverage the best of the feature sets available. Its not just enough to be able to configure dial-peers but you should be able to leverage server groups, E164 pattern maps,SIP uri routing, dial-peer provisioning policies to provide a scalable and elegant solution.
With webex new offerings such as webex calling, it is. also. imperative to understand CUBE PKI deployments. As more cloud solution evolve, you will need. to integrate CUBE using TLS, so this is critical.
SIP Profiles are so important today to handle all of the SIP interoperability challenges arising with multiple ITSPs.
Expressway is built on the legacy VCS/E solutions. Video centric guys were familiar with VCS/E solutions. Today expressway is the de facto standard for Cisco edge solutions including WebRTC edge solution.
I still remember when I started learning expressway. I deployed it in my lab and then came the community to answer questions so as to develop my expertise much further.
You cannot exist in the Cisco's UC space without knowing expressway solution. Today expressway has evolved from just being used as MRA solution into a more rounded and one stop shop for all edge solutions. Here are some of the solutions that expressway is used for. Can you see why this is a critical solution to know?
Webex is where its at! Telepresence and conference solutions are key for any UC engineer. I remember a few years back when the video/telepresence estate within an enterprise was managed by only "video guys". The land scape has changed significantly and you need a grasp of these technologies to be be able to work effectively in this space. Some of the core technologies in this space driving enterprise collaboration are:
You just cant survive here without touching windows server offerings. Here are some that are a must:
There are tons of tools you need to be efficient as a UC engineer. I am sure you are already using some of them, you may need to explore more of the ones mentioned on this list.
This is a very challenging career path. Changes, upgrades, features, deprecation, troubleshooting, innovations are all very synonymous with the UC world. I do not think I read as much as I am doing now even when I was in an educational institution. To help yourself keep tabs with all the changes, innovations, developments you need to adopt a self motivational, self developmental paradigm. Here are some of the ways you can achieve this:
Here are some links to some of the tools you can use to help you develop your skill sets as mentioned in this article.
CUCM Security By Default and ITL Operation and Troubleshooting
I am sure you are wondering wao! do I need to know all of this stuff? The simple answer is YES! Did I hear you asking, Deji are you saying you know all of this stuff here? Can I plead the 5th here?
Truth be told, I know 96% of these technologies. I have had to develop skills around MS solution, Oracle SBC, Python, Windows server etc. I had to evolve from a Cisco centric UC engineer into a more rounded solution consultant. I have also had to learn a lot of the Cisco cloud offerings.
So there you have it, a blue print to help you in your journey. Lets get the conversation going. Are there any other skill sets you think are critical that I have missed out. Feel free to leave comments below.