In this first of two posts, I’ll be describing my experience upgrading Cisco Unity Connection to take advantage of the Single Inbox feature in version 8.5.

As an IT professional, it’s very common to wear different specialty hats depending on the needs of each day. Those of you in small IT shops understand what I mean: Monday, you might be configuring routers and switches, Tuesday, you might be setting up an Exchange server. With the arrival of VoIP, the blurred line that once existed between voice and network has almost completely evaporated. I’ll be sharing with you a prime example of how the two worlds have converged into one as I share my experience upgrading my Cisco Unity Connection server. We wanted to add the ability to synchronize voicemail messages directly to the Exchange Inbox. In the Cisco world, this feature is called Single Inbox.

Cisco Unity Connection - Microsoft Exchange

Cisco Unity Connection - Microsoft Exchange

With version 8.0, Cisco left out what I consider to be one key feature. For some reason, they did not include a mechanism to synchronize voice mail with the Exchange Inbox. The only way to view email from Outlook was to create a new connection using IMAP. The system previous to our Cisco system was able to sync with the Inbox so a few of my users had grown accustomed to managing voice mail using the Outlook Inbox as well as Activesync on their cell phone. I’m understating when I say we were disappointed to find that 8.0 did not include this feature. However; we proceeded with the promise that 8.5 would have this feature and installed Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition (CUCMBE). CUCMBE is the combination of Call Manager and Unity (voice mail) on one server.

So how does version 8.5 do it? The answer is by utilizing the Exchange Client Access (ECA) server web services that many of you Exchange administrators out there probably already have running for OWA, Activesync, OAB, etc. Version 8.5 synchronizes with Exchange versions 2003, 2007, and 2010. The beauty of adding Single Inbox is that it doesn’t require a great deal of configuration on the Exchange or Cisco side.

In a nutshell Single Inbox (in version 8.5) places an email in a user’s Inbox with a .wav file of the voice message. If you delete this message from your Outlook Inbox, the message is also deleted on the Unity server. If you later mark the message as unread, the voice mail indicator light on your phone turns on. For more information about Single Inbox please refer to Single Inbox in Cisco Unity Connection 8.5 and Later.

Gaining this new functionality for users of version 8.0 can be accomplished in these steps:

  1. Upgrade Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition (CUCMBE) to version 8.5.
  2. Add Exchange mailbox permissions to an Active Directory account that is used to synchronize voice mail.
  3. Enable unified messaging in Cisco Unity Connection and on each voice mailbox.

In my next article, I’ll outline the three steps in a little more detail, provide a couple links to essential documentation, and summarize my experience.

  1. Joe Gasper 12 years ago

    Are you able to run Exchange rules (move for example) on the incoming voicemail messages? How large are the wav files and any special codec needed? Thank you.

  2. Author
    Aaron D 12 years ago


    Great question. As far as I know from my experience attempting to do the same, and from my searches, it doesn’t look like Exchange or Outlook rules can be used on the incoming voice mail messages.

    Please see:

    The .wav files vary in size. I’ve seen as large as 900KB, as small as 25KB, and everything in between.

    No special codec is needed. The wav files are attached to a message and can be played by most media players.

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