VQ Conference Manager Training Milestone

Here at VQ we’ve just passed another milestone as our 200th person has completed our VQ Conference Manager certified training programmes.

Developed and delivered by our training partner, Scott Waschler, of TEKnowLogical Solutions, 2 hands-on training programmes are offered:

VQ Conference Manager Concierge and Call Management Certification (2 days)

For unified communications and help-desk engineers who are responsible for providing scheduling and trouble resolution to organizations using VQ Conference Manager, concentrating on after-deployment operations management.

VQ Conference Manager Deployment and System Administration Certification (3 days)

For unified communications and network engineers who are responsible for installing, configuring, and trouble resolution of VQ Conference Manager, concentrating on deployment and initial configuration of VQ Conference Manager.

Both can be ordered through Cisco’s GPL via CCW:

But why would you take time out of a busy schedule to take the courses? Here’s what a few recent attendees have said:

“Scott is an excellent instructor and always pauses at the right places to see if there are any questions and then move on. Course was paced properly and was all around enjoyable.”

“The training was excellent. Real kudos to the instructor, Scott, for breaking down a lot of detailed info for us.”

“Scott, our instructor, really knows his stuff…and did an excellent job of breaking it down into understandable chunks (a skill not every instructor has).”

So, if you’re interested in VQ Conference Manager, find out more at https://www.vqcomms.com/training-portal/, speak to us on our ‘Ask VQ’ Webex Space or email us at info@vqcomms.com

VQ Conference Manager 3.7 Released

VQCM 3.7 is now available to download and we think you’ll like it.

Here’s what’s new…

  • Active Speaker indications for Scheduled Meetings
  • People in Lobby indicators
  • Meeting List filters
  • Duplication/Cloning of LDAP Configs, UX Profiles, Space Templates, Email Templates
  • Automatic Gain Control on Space Template Roles
  • System use Terms and Conditions pre-login message
  • Refinements to Elasticsearch data collection for CMS syslogs and Expressway syslogs, call data records and metric data; early adopter program extended
  • Public API early adopter program
  • Ansible CMS provisioning automation early adopter program

The API, Ansible CMS Provisioning and expanded Elasticsearch data collection from CMS/Expressway features are examples of how VQ starts to evolve into becoming a platform for UC solutions; more is coming and we’re very pleased to be making the first steps.

For the details, please see the vqcomms.com customer portal under knowledge base/release notes.

For customers wary of updating to the latest 3.7 release, now’s a good time to consider updating to VQCM 3.6.1. It’s been in the field now for about 3 months and is performing extremely well.

If you would like to be part of one of our early adopter programs, please email support@vqcomms.com

Please contact support@vqcomms.com to arrange installs or upgrades.

Simplifying Licensing for VQ Conference Manager

VQ’s simple licensing model aligns with Cisco’s models for CMS, accessible via  the Cisco Global price list and available to purchase via your usual Cisco Partner.

The purpose of this article is to explain our licensing model and a couple of small changes we have made effective 6th March 2021.

At VQ we have kept our licensing model simple; we made the decision to align our licensing to match Cisco’s for Cisco Meeting Server (CMS). As VQ Conference Manager (VQCM) is a platform for the management of CMS, we match the Cisco “buying models”. There are now three options:

  1. Enterprise Agreement (EA)
  2. Active User (AU)
  3. Named User (or al a carte PMP & SMP licensing)

As you may know VQCM is available to purchase via your usual Cisco Partner. If you are a Cisco Partner you know how to get quotes for all things Cisco already – VQ is available in exactly the same way as any Cisco product.

The changes I mentioned are threefold.

  1. Addition of the AU model – more on this in a bit.
  2. Realignment of the EA price tiers and entry point.
    Up until this change, the VQCM entry point for an EA was 5,000 users (Knowledge Workers, a term to be discussed shortly). As the Cisco Flex Plan and CMS subscription both have an entry point of 250 Knowledge Workers, we have moved our EA entry point to match the price tiers in the Flex Plan pricing (if using the CMS Subscription rather than Flex there are no price tiers – but you still get them with VQCM).
Enterprise AgreementPrevious ModelNew Model
Tier 15000-9999250-1999
Tier 210000-199992000-9999
Tier 320000-3999910000+
Tier 440000+ 

3. Realignment of the PMP & SMP al a carte pricing, or named user pricing, to align with the Flex plan.

As per the EA, there is no tiering in the CMS subscription; it is a flat rate. Our price tiers now align with the Flex Plan.

PMPPrevious ModelNew Model
Tier 11-4991-249
Tier 2500-999250+
Tier 31000-4999 
Tier 11-241-24
Tier 225-4925+
Tier 350+ 

This is starting to sound complicated, but it is quite simple. However you purchase your CMS licensing, you use the same model for VQCM. The table below shows how they match up.

CMS ModelVQ Model
CMS Subscription PMP & SMPPMP & SMP
CMS Enterprise AgreementEnterprise Agreement
Flex Plan Named UserPMP & SMP
Flex Plan Active UserActive User
Flex Plan Enterprise AgreementEnterprise Agreement

VQ Conference Manager Options

I have been asked recently by a couple of customers whether they could just buy elements of the VQ Conference Manager platform; the answer was a polite no. The Outlook Add-In is an option, but cannot work without the VQCM platform, and without the VQCM platform there would be no data for Analytics model to present.

So, once we know the purchasing model, there are a total of 3 additional options on top of the licensing model

  1. Do you want to use one of the three end user applications?
    Either the Outlook Add In, Jabber Add In, or iOS app
  2. Do you want to use more than one of these apps? If so, they come as a pack with all three included.
  3. Do you require the advanced functionality within the VQ Analytics?

The purchasing of these works in largely the same way as the VQCM platform. If you are subscribing to an EA or an Active User model, then you buy the apps in the same quantity. If you are buying al a carte we license here on a per user basis as it is a user tool – so if you are buying 20 SMP licenses you need to know how many users will need the App or App’s you plan to deploy.

The advanced analytics is licensed on a per VQCM node basis; for now, most customers are single node but as we move to High Availability it will be necessary to license each node in the environment. Please contact us to discuss your plans so we can advise you on this.

Named User, Active User or Enterprise Agreement?

Determining the appropriate buying model for VQCM, as I have discussed relates to the the buying model for CMS. This is a process that your Cisco partner would usually model out and compare options to present the costs and benefits of one route vs another. They should include VQCM in this modelling and we are happy to work with you or your partner in building out these options.

Typically for smaller environments the al la carte model works out best. Where there are over 250 knowledge workers in the company and you want to provide services to the whole (or significant part of) an organization then the Active User or Enterprise Agreements work are a great option.

For an Enterprise Agreement, once we know the Knowledge Worker count, your Cisco partner can easily produce a quote for an Enterprise Agreement.

The Active User model for VQCM is only applicable in an environment where the customer has an Active User Flex Plan with on-premise meetings or as we know it, CMS included.

In this environment we again match the number of Active Users on the Flex plan, and we align with the True Forwards methodology for determining future licensing.

The VQCM Active User buying model, is subject to a True Forward process; an annual review to ensure the KW and AU numbers are correct for the following year. It is vital that the VQCM subscription is updated for licensing to remain in compliance when the Cisco True Forward is carried out.

The content of this article is intended for end user organisations, providing some context to the licensing model choices for VQCM. The determination of the most appropriate CMS licensing model for your organization is something that should be discussed with your Cisco partner or with your Cisco account manager.

VQ Communications are happy to help Cisco partners and Cisco employees with building out the correct licensing options for VQ.

Feel free to fire your questions to info@vqcomms.com or join the AskVQ Webex space at https://eurl.io/#1IrlwmHkN

Steve Holmes, 15th March 2021

Cisco License definitions

I hope this has been helpful so far; the complicated bit is coming up. As we align to the Cisco models, we also tie up with their terminology and definitions. This is supporting information about Cisco licensing models rather than being specifically relevant to VQ licensing.

The two things to cover in this section are the definition and calculation of Knowledge Works and Active Users.

PMP (or Named Users) and SMP licensing is simple – how many people do you want to be able to schedule calls, or to share a pool of licenses.

Enterprise and Active User agreements, however, use the terminology Knowledge Workers, and in the case of the Active User model what defines an Active User must be understood.

Cisco’s definition of a Knowledge Worker is important, and they define it here:

They go on to say:

An employee means number of full or part-time employees, a contractor means a non-employee who works under your control and has access to your systems.

A device means a computing or communications device capable of running software, or browser plugins. This would include a desk phone, mobile device, computer, tablet or video device.

Therefore, the Knowledge Worker count is simply the number of employees or contractors that utilize a computer, tablet or phone in the course of their duties.

The purpose of defining this here is to explain that the definition of a Knowledge Worker to VQ is the same as it is to Cisco. These calculations are required to license CMS in the first place; the VQ licensing as I have said before just matches back to Cisco’s.

Cisco also define some best practices for counting the number of Knowledge Workers in an organisation:

There are exceptions to these rules, in shared role positions such as reception or service desks, and shift working environments such as manufacturing and nursing environments.

There is a Cisco document that this information has been taken from which should be read in full for the determination of an organizations Knowledge Worker count.

See “Cisco – Knowledge Worker Definition and EUIF” available on the Cisco website or via your search engine of choice.

The Active User license model provides your entire organization with access to Flex Plan Meetings, in this case on-premise meetings on CMS.

The AU Model price tier is based on the same thresholds as the EA, but you only pay for the number of anticipated Active Users. This may increase during the contract term as your organization grows or the number of meetings increases. There is a minimum threshold of 15% of the KW count, or 40, which-ever is higher.

So, the minimum sizing for a Flex Plan is 250 KW’s and 40 AU’s.

The definition of an Active User is someone who schedules or creates a conference on CMS once within any given month.

The Cisco Active User Flex Plan are subject to a True Forward process

This is a mechanism to catch up the paid for licensing to match the current usage requirements.

The True Forward is a Cisco defined process and measures the average number of Active Users, and the number of deployed Knowledge Workers. This is an annual activity. For example, on a three year contract a true forward calculation would be performed prior to year 2 and 3 to ensure the license usage being paid for is not lower than the number of Active Users and/or Knowledge Workers.

An average of the Active Users is taken across months 9, 10 and 11 and is used to determine whether an increase is required prior to the anniversary of the agreement.

The Cisco licensing requirements are a topic that should be discussed with your Cisco partner or Cisco Account Manager to determine the most appropriate model and to secure pricing, the information provided here is for advice and guidance only.

Steve Holmes, 15th March 2021

VQ Conference Manager 3.6 Released

I’m really excited to announce that VQ Conference Manager 3.6.1 is now available for download.

VQCM 3.6.1 is a big and exciting release.

So, what’s the excitement? Here’s the headliner list:

  • Recurring Meetings can now be scheduled. It’s nice to welcome this functionality back (it’s actually a complete re-write) from the old days of VQ on Codian
  • Lobby and call-lock
  • Elastic and Kibana updated to the latest 7.10 version (VQCM 3.5 was running Elastic 6.8 so there’s a big leap)
  • Elastic Index Management has been updated to use Elastic’s Index Lifecycle Management (“ILM”). We’ve switched from using lots of small indices to fewer, much bigger indices. The impact is significant improvements in Kibana performance, reduced load times and lower storage requirements

We’re also introducing the concept of ‘early adopter’ functionality and something we’ve talked about for what feels like years. Well, finally it’s here and I’m delighted to announce that VQCM 3.6.1 includes “CMS and Expressway data ingress” – syslog data from CMS and syslog, CDR and metric data can be collected from Expressway E and C devices. The configuration process is via config files at VQCM 3.6 and we plan adding a CM-Admin page for it at VQCM 3.7. More details in the release notes.

A lot has changed in this release. So please read the release notes carefully. If in doubt, please contact support@vqcomms.com.

Webinar: VQ Conference Manager 3.6 Launch

2020 End of Year Update

As 2020 draws to a close, I thought now would be a good time to give you all an end of year update and talk about our plans for 2021.

2020 has undoubtedly been the year of COVID. Thankfully the VQ team have remained safe throughout this difficult time and we’ve all been working from home since March.

Business wise, 2020 has been the year where we’ve strengthened our relationship with Cisco by  becoming a Solutions Plus Partner (which means you can now buy VQ Conference Manager via Cisco). It has been fantastic to see this relationship grow throughout the year and we are all very excited about working even closer with the Cisco team in 2021. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to all of our new partners and customers who’ve joined the VQ Community in 2020. It is wonderful to have you onboard and we look forward to achieving great things together, next year. Also, a big thank you to all of our customers who have renewed with us throughout the past year. Your loyalty and trust means a great deal to us.

2021 is going to see some big product developments with VQ Conference Manager and I look forward to sharing these announcements with you over the next couple of months. VQ as an organisation is going to continue to grow and evolve over the next year and we’ll be adding new members to the Engineering, Sales and Marketing teams .

I’ve put together a short video which discusses this in more detail, but I would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made 2020 a phenomenal year for VQ.

I hope you all have a safe and healthy 2021.


VQ Conference Manager 3.5 Released

VQCM 3.5 incrementally moves things forward again. For a full list of what’s changed, please read the release notes that are available on vqcomms.com.

Highlights include:

  • “Search” has been refined to allow the selection of the resource type being searched (User, Space, Call etc)
  • We’ve started the process of separating out Roles in Activity; this allows the Participants to be grouped by Role. Role groupings can be minimized and the number of Participants per role is displayed
  • Further refinements to Activity include separating out Space members into a separate coApp.
  • Kibana now appears in the navigation panel on the left-hand side. Legacy analytics and dashboards now have ‘end of life’ notifications; we plan to remove them completely at 3.6
  • “One time” or “Temporary” Scheduled Call functionality has been refined substantially with a major usability improvement for WebRTC usage scenarios. VQCM now creates the Space at schedule time and marks the Space “inactive” on CMS so that nobody can join the Space. This allows us to access the Space Secret and make it available as part of the information for joining the Call (the all-important ‘click-to-call’ hyperlink for making WebRTC calls really easy is now possible). At call run-time, the Space is enabled several seconds before its needed and participants can join the Space. The scripting language support for Email Templates has been updated to allow access to Pin, Call Id, Secret without having to loop through the Roles collection for Single Role Space Templates.
  • Scheduled Calls can now have Setup and Tear-Down times. Both are disabled by default and can be enabled via Scheduled coApp settings on UX Profile. Start time is when the meeting is due to start (people walk into a room and expect the call to be ready); setup time is the time allocated to get the room ready. As an example: if a meeting is due to start at 9.00 and requires 15-minute setup, set start time as 9.00 and specify 15 minutes start time. The Call will start on CMS at 8.45; The Activity UI will show the call being in ‘setup’ mode between 8.45 and 9.00. Tear-down works in a similar manner. Calls that do not have setup/tear-down defined appear as they have in previous releases. Adding Setup/tear-down at 3.5 is a precursor to Recurring Calls at 3.6.
  • Help is now available from the left-hand navigation panel; the online user guide documentation available on vqcomms.com is now also contained within the VQCM VM and can be accessed directly from the UI. Also included are installation, configuration and usage videos. Moving forwards, changes to our processes will ensure that the Help material is in synch with the release (at 3.5, the new functionality changes are not in the help content).
  • VQCM-Admin has been updated to allow Outlook plug-in version management.

Advance notice: ‘legacy’ (pre 3.1) Elasticsearch indexes (indexes prefixed with ‘transformed’) will be removed from VQCM 3.6. We don’t think this will impact anybody but are calling it out just in case somebody is using the original indexes that were replaced at 3.1 by CallAnalytics,  ParticipantAnalytics, Callbridge, CMS Alarms, Tenant State and System State indexes.

To upgrade, please mail support@vqcomms.com who will mail you details of an updated pre-upgrade-check script; copy that onto your system, run it and let them have the results. If it’s clean, they’ll update your account to have download access to VQCM 3.5. If the script identifies issues, support will work with you (or, if you are customer where we cannot access your system, they’ll provide you guidance on what to do) to clean up the state of your system and then give you access to the upgrade images.

Coming next:

We’re working now to deliver VQCM 3.6 in the mid-October time-frame. VQCM 3.6 is scheduled to feature Lobby, Recurring Calls, Active Speaker and Elastic search 7 (with updated Kibana. We’ll also be switching index management to Elastic’s Index Lifecycle Manager – ILM – model).

VQ is a Cisco Solutions Plus Partner: 3 month update

In early April, I announced we’d reached the stratospheric highs of Cisco selling VQ Conference Manager. A really, really, big day.

So, three months later, where are we?

It’s been amazing; demand for video is going through the roof and the multiplier effect from Cisco has taken that to even higher levels. We just closed our biggest quarter ever and Q3 looks even stronger with Cisco sales starting to come through in more volume.

Internally within VQ, our usage of video calls has trebled and that doesn’t include all the time we spend on WebEx doing customer calls and demos. On that note, one of the questions we get asked is “why don’t you use your own CMS for demos?” – the answer is that we don’t view ourselves as being a service provider and are not geared up to deliver high quality calls globally – Cisco’s WebEX has data centers and network capacity lined up to ensure great calls all day, every day. We want to be able to show customers VQ and not to have to worry about network issues between our CMS and, for example, a customer located in New Zealand.

Customers are sharing stories of their call volume growth. My favorite is one of our large financial services customers; their working from home numbers went from 9-12% of the workforce to 94%; their call volumes increased substantially which leads us to the best bit of the story – their CMS based system (a big, multinode cluster) enabled them to keep working across the organization; everybody kept working and they were able to respond to customers. They ended up growing market share because their competitors experienced patchy services from their cloud based video/UC providers with regional outages/poor service which meant they couldn’t keep all their employees working and because of that, couldn’t respond to their customers. Ka-ching.

Another surprise has been the number of ‘non conferencing’ systems we’re seeing where the pandemic has made people it impossible for people to meet in non-business environments. We’ve got a growing number of systems being used by prison services to enable family outside to meet family members inside. Having been around video for what feels like a million years, the idea is not new. What’s new is the scale and call volumes.

As a team, we’ve felt like our contribution to the collective challenge of getting through the pandemic has been to enable a large number of people to continue their life in a semi-normal manner using video conferencing.

Increased usage is driving interest in Kibana and questions on using it and creating customized reports. It’s been really enjoyable helping a growing number of customers use Kibana, discover they can use it and then how much they like it.

One of our long term, strategic, goals has been to make VQCM a platform for video/UC solutions. APIs are coming and we’re in discussions that we hope will lead to our first Strategic Solutions Partner.

Next stop, VQCM 3.5 in a couple of weeks. Thanks for reading.

Stay safe


VQ Conference Manager 3.4.2 Released

I’m very pleased to announce that 3.4.2 is now available. It’s a big deal for many reasons; there’s great new functionality in it with, for example, move participant, Reactive Calls/Blast Dial now wrapped in the UI, marking Spaces as ‘favorites’ in Activity, major improvements to ‘search’ and associated removal of some really ugly page transitions that were previously possible (and truly unpleasant from a user’s point of view), ‘play nicely’ improvements for co-existence with TMS – we now pick up the Space name changes as TMS reassigns scheduled calls to Spaces and the iOS app is now available on the Apple App Store.

Behind the scenes, our refined processes and tooling are working really well. We transitioned to a tool called “Clickup” (https://clickup.com/) some time ago and its working really well in terms of release planning, task and workload management. We’re now working on a release cadence of about every 8 weeks; the goal is to release more frequently with fewer changes per release, higher degrees of testing per change and lower overall risk.

Functionality improvements are currently broadly along two vectors: updating Activity for better support of concierge/white glove services – 3.4 adds move participant, upcoming 3.5 splits out Participant Roles and then future versions will deliver on Lobby, Recurring calls, Active Speaker and Pane Placement. We’re also working to complete tasks that have been outstanding for some time; adding a UI for Reactive Calls went into 3.4; 3.5 adds CM-Admin functionality for managing Outlook plug-in version management and improved support for scheduled calls on temporary Spaces – at 3.5, we’ll be able to schedule a call in the future, have its ‘secret’ at schedule time and be able to distribute WebRTC ‘join’ links making it really easy for non IT savvy participants to click on the link and join calls (we’re seeing a big take up on customers wanting to deliver video based services to non-business users). Once the call is complete, the call and Space are automatically deleted with no possibility of being reused.

So, to conclude, 3.4.2 is a big deal and we’re very excited to have released it; 3.5 is coming, looks great and there’s a whole lot more coming after that.

Mike Horsley


Succeed With CMS and VQ Conference Manager

Overview of VQ. What is it VQ does?

VQ is enabling enterprise wide conferencing, based on the CMS platform. We wrap the CMS platform with increasing rich layers of functionality that enable customers to deploy conferencing within a wide scale within an organisation and one of the key things is to do that quickly. There is no requirement, for example to break open the CMS API SDK. You can do everything through a browser; you can get those CMS systems into production mode far more quickly and deliver high volume services on them and ultimately deliver value to your customers. We have a heard of a number of cases where customers have purchased CMS and because of the complexity of using the API those systems have remained in their boxes for one or two years.

So, we’re enabling CMS enterprise wide conferencing and as the following diagram shows we’ve got CMS in the core and layers coming around that, for example, meeting management for concierge services, multi-tenancy, scheduling, single sign on and reporting to call out a few, and then in the outer layer we have applications which are geared towards the end user and help them take control of their conferencing destiny. They can see their conferencing from where they work, be that Jabber or Outlook, for example.

Why do customers come to VQ?

We’ve got the integrated set of tooling that the diagram above shows. So, customers who are coming from the Codian world, (because Codian is going end of life), they can use the meeting management that VQ provides. We’ve also got the tooling that supports the self-service model. For those of you who may not know, the CMS platform was designed to scale and deliver large volumes of users. We provide the tooling that enables you to provision several thousand of this type or several thousand of that type and each group has the right set of calls for their requirements. That automation of provisioning is key because it ultimately enables the big systems (the 25,000+ user systems) to be deployed with actually very few staff because we’re trying to make software do the work. We’ve also got the integrated Elastic search and Kibana reporting so people understand what their system is doing. We’ve also got the increasing range of self-service tools that sit around this in the form of Jabber extension, Outlook Add-in and Plug-in and our IOS phone app. And we’ve also added Single Sign-on and this is significant because it’s secure and it enables two factor authentication (2FA). One of the areas we’ve been successful in is Federal Government.  2FA is quite unique to us and has enabled us to make significant design wins in that particular vertical market.

What are the principle challenges customers are facing?

There are many, but the broad vectors are as follows.

Self-service; customers want to enable employees across the organisation. There may be several 100 or thousand users, (we also have 50,000 and even 80,000 user opportunities that we are following). We are enabling end users to work across the organisation and with the impact of Coronavirus there are a large number of companies who are looking to enable their workforce to work from home. This is enabled by the scalability of CMS and what VQ enables. Self-service is a big thing and it’s what CMS was designed to do and it does it incredibly well.

The other vector we see is the Codian/Telepresence blades are going end of life at the end of May, so many customers are looking to replace those. CMS is the answer and we provide a richness that enables those Codian users to migrate their workloads onto the way VQ enables meetings to be managed.

Security is another vector and we’ve added Single Sign-on and SAML2 authentication and This is significant because it includes 2FA and certainly when you get to the Federal (DoD), intelligence community or government areas, that 2FA is a key enabler.

The final vector Is Reporting and Logging and we use Elastic search and Kibana to deliver best of breed reporting to customers in terms of what their systems are doing.

We enable each of these particular vectors to be addressed and what we find is quite often customers start off with a particular set of requirements and then begin to think how their services will evolve and start to appreciate that VQ has got the breadth of functionality so we can take them from where they are in the early days, through to more sophisticated deployments.

Customers are looking for a solution where rather than doing one thing they can buy a solution which will start with one thing and grow out and solve a range of evolving needs. That has proved very successful.

If you have questions about VQ Conference Manager, join the ‘Ask VQ’ Webex Teams space http://cs.co/JoinVQ or drop us an email (info@vqcomms.com)