We are very pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with a wonderful company called Variphy that will allow us to give all our remote Voice rack renting clients free remote control access over all of the 7961 phones on our CCIE Voice racks! Variphy Insight is the product, and it is one of the most brilliant inventory control, CDR, phone broadcast and remote phone control software that I have seen in quite some time.

Six months back, we added 3 7961 IP Phones to each rack, and offered a discounted remote control software, but I think that you all will agree that “free” is a slightly more affordable and enticing way of getting you closer to passing your CCIE Voice Lab than “discounted” is.

Oh by the way, we are updating our racks again, and this time adding 2 more 7961 phones to each one. This means you will have 2 7961 phones at the CorpHQ site, 1 7961 phone at the Branch1 site, and 2 7961 phones at the Branch2 site, as well as a PSTN phone – of course.

The best thing about this, is not the fact that we are able to give it to our Voice clients at no cost to them (although we are fairly excited about that aspect as well!), but that for the first time it gives everyone a chance to work in their own native OS, and it gives folks that are not located in the US very decent speeds for controlling phones. You see, the remote control aspect of Variphy Insight is done entirely through HTML and AJAX  in your browser. That’s right, no client software to install, so it doesn’t matter if you are on a Mac (finally!), Linux, or even the ol’ standby. And being transported over HTTP and using AJAX means that it is fast. Real fast. With previous remote control software, the further geographically you were from our data centers, the longer you had to wait for the refresh to come back and update your client and thus your screen – and there wasn’t much we were able do about the laws of light propagation (though we tried Feynman, we tried!), so you simply had to wait for a good bit. But since we are now updating over HTTP with AJAX – things are lightning fast!

Another great thing about being handled with HTML is the size of the phone on your screen’s desktop – it can be whatever size you want it to be! Just use your browser’s standard controls to Zoom In or Zoom Out the size of the HTML text, and the phone itself will grow or shrink respectively right along with the text!

Couple of screenshots:

SIP Phone Controlled with Variphy

Larger SIP Phone Controlled with Variphy

We are still getting this software rolled out to all of our racks, but we estimate everything will be completed in a day or two at the most. As always, the always up-to-date Voice Rack Rental Access Guide will contain all of the necessary information to get you rolling and controlling your own phones, and ultimately destiny, of soon becoming a CCIE Voice.

I also have been compiling a list of every one of the features and drawbacks to using each of the different remote phone methods of remotely studying for the Voice exam, including 1) Hardware phones, 2) Variphy remote control, 3) VoIP Integration remote control, 4) IPBlue SCCP Softphone, 5) X-Lite SIP Softphone, and 6) CIPC. I will post an article here in a few days with a detailed comparison to help you make the best choice possible when studying for your exam. If there is some sort of software that any of you would like compared that I seemed to have missed in the above list, please be sure to add it in the comments section, and I will do my best to get it evaluated along with the others.

About Mark Snow, CCIE #14073:

Mark Snow has been actively working with data and traditional telephony as a Network Consulting Engineer since 1995, and has been working with Cisco Call Manager and voice-over technology since 1998. Mark has been actively teaching and developing content for the CCIE Voice track since 2005, and the Security track since 2007. Mark's story with both data and voice technology started out quite young, as he began learning around the age of five from his father who was a patented inventor and a research scientist at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Mark started out on Unix System V and basic analog telephony, and went on from there to large data networking projects with technologies such as Banyan Vines, IPX and of course IP, and large phone systems such as Nortel 61c, Tadiran Coral, Avaya Definity and of course Cisco Unified Communications Manager in both enterprise and 911 PSAP environments across the US and internationally. Mark is also an accomplished pilot and punched his ticket in 2001. When Mark isn't learning, labing, consulting or teaching, he can be found either piloting or possibly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, hanging off a rock somewhere or else skiing out west. He also might just be enjoying a quiet day at the beach with his wife and two wonderful young kids, Ryleigh and Judah.

Find all posts by Mark Snow, CCIE #14073 | Visit Website

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10 Responses to “INE Voice Racks Now Come with Free Remote Control”

  1. Mohamed Gazzaz, CCIE Security #25719 says:

    Thats’ Great. Looking forward to your next post.

    Thanks Mark.

  2. Ibrahim says:

    actually very very good news.

    this was big problem .

    Thanks alot

  3. Adel says:

    While these solutions work nicely on black and white phones, the color phone will generate an image larger in size (250 kb each screen) which on slow link will not allow fast refresh and will make it less useable (unless someone increases timeout for “more” button, for example). Also, while the image is generating, the integrated web server will not accept input at acceptable rate, as it is a single threaded application. There are other issues with large image generation on the color screen phones that could affect the performance.

    And the other problem with these applications that use phone API to work with it – there is no sound.

  4. @Adel,

    I suppose it’s also a good thing we aren’t using color phones in our rack rental isn’t it?! (7961s, not 7965s)

    As for the comment about not accepting input at an acceptable rate, this was certainly a problem for the older Gen2 phones, but the Gen3 phones that we use (7961′s) are able to handle up to a 2 second refresh rate with ease while handling normal tasks, so not a problem!

    And you are correct that using this approach is limited by the fact that there is no audible RTP media. However, that being the case, this is still a great option for those that either cannot afford to purchase hardware phones, or don’t want to deal with all of the limitations and workarounds needed with the IPBlue softphone client.

    There are also a few things to keep in mind as it relates to audio being streamed to a remote control (not a softphone) application, namely:
    1) Privacy Issue: Being able to tap into a call easily with a remote control application would be asking for trouble from a very litigious society as we have in the US, and in many, many other countries, it is absolutely forbidden by law.
    2) QOS: The sound coming out of the computer speakers would not be indicative of the sound coming out of the handset. For a UC admin troubleshooting a Voice quality/MOS issue (which is what most remote control software was designed for), they wouldn’t want to rely on what the computer speakers puts out as a correct interpretation of how it actually sounds to the phone user.

    As I mentioned above, I will be posting an article in the next few days, detailing all of the pros and cons for using each of the various phone-type mediums in your study preparation.

    Mark Snow

  5. Ahmed says:

    Great, I was wondering over the past week on how to manage the phones remotely. Mark has come up with an answer, and its free.


  6. David says:

    Will this mean that we will get a refund if we purchased the phone remote software? (some rack tokens would be better :) )

  7. David,

    I really wish that we could do something like that for folks like you that did purchase that software, however we cannot. We made absolutely no money on the VoIP remote phone software – all we did was to negotiate a deal with them for a discount for our students, and then upload your name to their server, where they sent you a voucher by email. We tried to provide the best we could at the time, and now we have simply been able to find a better deal for you – but we’re just the broker. :-)

    Sorry, I wish there were something more that we could do.
    However, in the end, we were able to make the remote control connection much faster for your! I certainly hope that helps assuage the pain of the purchase!


  8. [...] Rack Rental TweetJust wanted to update all our CCIE Voice rack renters out there that the new Variphy Remote Phone Control app that I blogged about a few days ago will go live here by the next rack rental session at 3pm PT. Information on how to [...]

  9. Anas says:

    Great news! I have been waiting for this for quite some time…thanks a lot!!!

    • @Anas,

      Glad to help. This new software has been very useful for a number of our students already, and this company has a truly great product that is lightweight, easy to use, and extends far beyond simple remote phone control (even if that is our primary use of it). It is actually an AMAZING tool if you happen to work in-house with a CUCM deployment, or as a consultant, simply due to it’s “snapshot” feature capabilities with CUCM and CUC. BTW, this software is live – just watch this video for information on how to use it with our racks.




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