The IME, and the underlying Viper protocol, use standard SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) signaling to exchange information between the UC clients at each organization. As a result, other UC capabilities, including presence information about people in other companies, can already be added through Viper, Burton said.
"You can generically exchange all kinds of intercompany information. They're simply not in the first release of IME," Burton said.
Cisco said IME and other possible Viper-based products are better suited to enterprises than is the popular Skype service. IT departments can set policies that control who employees can call with the system, and ensure information about their communications is captured for regulatory compliance, Burton said. The content of the calls and all the information about them is encrypted, and IME includes mechanisms to prevent spam and denial-of-service attacks, he said.
Although the Cisco executives pitched IME partly as a money saver that could eliminate many expensive PSTN calls, they also said it presents an opportunity for service providers to sell lucrative new services. Those could include guaranteed quality of service over a high-quality IP network as well as hosted IME capability. The latter would free enterprises from having to install anything on their own networks, Bates said.
Also in the telepresence session, Cisco revealed that its Enterprise Communication Platform, announced last November, will be called Cisco Quad. The enterprise social-networking system is designed to bring together video, voice and other types of content produced by a company's employees, with advanced search functions. It is in beta testing.