Collab Edge MRA for 7800/8800/DX Series Endpoints

Cisco recently posted Expressway (and VCS) X8.5.2 and 10.3.1 firmware for the 8800 and 7800 series phones.  The combination of these products allows these phones to register remotely to CUCM utilizing Collaboration Edge MRA.  (The DX-series (650/70/80) is expected to support MRA in the next release of code due out shortly.)

This functionality isn’t TAC supported yet, and has been released in a “feature preview” form.  I’ve set it up and tested it and it works well for the most part.  However, there is not full feature parity for a phone registered via MRA vs directly registered to CUCM, but for testing and basic calls, it works well.

In order to set it up, make sure your Expressway MRA deployment for Jabber is working properly.  MRA for the 7800/800 series phones uses the same service discovery process that Jabber uses, so if you have Jabber working, you’ll have 95% of the work done.

One important piece of information to know is that the phone firmware trusts 100+ public root CA certificates.  If your Expressway-E server does not have a certificate signed by one of these CA’s it’s not going to work for the phones.

Here’s the basic procedure I followed to make it work:

  1. Installed the 8800 10.3.1 COP file via OSadmin and restarted the TFTP service.
  2. Logged in to Jabber via MRA to ensure the correct functionality of my MRA system and my login credentials.
  3. Defined the phone in CUCM and then connected the phone directly to CUCM so that it would pull the version of firmware that supports MRA.  (My 8851 phone shipped with an older version of code that did not have MRA support.)
  4. Took the phone off of the corporate network to an internet-access only network.
  5. I had initial problems with the phone not attempting MRA lookup after being connected to the internet-only network, so I followed the troubleshooting process of resetting the Network settings on the phone.  It then started to try the MRA process.

Steps the phone follows in MRA registration:

1) Phone attempts normal TFTP registration/_cisco-uds._tcp.domain.com lookup process:

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This fails because the phone has no direct access to CUCM.

2) Firmware now prompts for MRA credentials (These would be the same credentials you use for Jabber MRA login — in my case it is set to use LDAP/AD for authentication):

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Phone now attemps  _collab-edge._tls.domain.com service record lookup (like Jabber does) to discover the Expressway-E/VCS-E host.

3) Phone completes MRA login process

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The phone is now registered and usable.

I’ve read conflicting information about the number of calls supported, and number of lines supported via MRA.  In my experience I have two lines on the phone registered and am able to make two calls per line.  (I’ve not tested more than two calls per line.)  The list of features that may work or not is extensive, so be careful as things like Barge or Intercom may not work yet.

The phone also upgraded code via MRA successfully which is good to know.

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I’ve noticed some oddities with on-hook vs. off-hook dialing.  I know there are some limitations around KPML currently.  In my experience it seems to off-hook dial fine on the primary line, but on a secondary line or when attempting a second call on the primary line you MUST on-hook dial.

Phone registration isn’t supported via TAC yet so feel free to post here and we can collectively attempt to assist.  Remember the most basic step to troubleshoot is to see if your Jabber can successfully login.

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