How not to Clean a Cisco IP Phone

One of our best clients is a manufacturing company who several years ago deployed a Cisco Unified Communications solution consisting of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM), Cisco Unity Connection (UConn), and Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (UCCX).  In addition to the new Unified Communications applications, they of course deployed a bunch of Cisco phones to go with them.

Cisco IP phones are made of durable ABS plastic and are generally pretty sturdy, unless they get zapped in a lightning storm (which would never happen because you use surge protectors and UPS, right?) or something.  Unfortunately this 7911 below met with an early demise when an employee took it upon himself to clean the phone up a little bit…  with acetone.  Not only was the Cisco logo almost completely burned off, but so was most of the silver paint AND apparently enough of the acetone/paint mixture seeped into the phone itself that the buttons are now immovable.  The phone still boots and I suppose it may still receive calls, but its days as a production phone are over.


Cisco 7911 IP Phone Before and After

A typical Cisco 7911 and the 7911 subjected to an acetone cleaning. The Cisco logo is almost gone and you can’t even see the model number any more!


The moral of the story here?  As per this handy Cisco doc, avoid pouring liquids of any type, even cleaning solutions, directly onto your Cisco IP phones.  Clean them only with a cloth slightly dampened with your cleaning solution of choice.  Acetone is a little too caustic so we recommend simple soap and water or perhaps Windex or rubbing alcohol again, applied only via a slightly dampened cloth.  Regardless of which solution you clean your phones with remember these two things:  1) As every cleaning solution says on the back of the bottle – test in a small inconspicuous area first, and 2)  If your phone starts to melt… stop cleaning!

Have your users ever tried to help you fix an IT problem only to end up compounding the issue?  Let us know in the comments!

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Cincinnati’s newest Meraki Authorized Reseller

Guess who just became Cincinnati’s newest Cisco Meraki authorized reseller?  We did!  Denton Business Solutions is proud to announce we are now officially authorized to provide clients with Meraki cloud networking solutions.

Cisco Meraki Logo

What is Cloud Networking?

Cloud Networking empowers you to deploy, configure, monitor, and troubleshoot your IT infrastructure through the cloud.  With Cisco Meraki, your IT staff maintains and operates your company’s IT infrastructure from an easy-to-use web-based dashboard.  Gone are the days of console cables and memorizing command line syntaxes, replaced with the implementation of enterprise IT policy with a few clicks of the mouse.  From Mobile Device Management to secure guest access and Layer-7 prioritization of business-critical applications, the Cisco Meraki dashboard does it all from inside of your favorite web browser.

Why is Cloud Networking such a Big Deal?

Cloud Networking allows you to manage your entire network infrastructure from one convenient web-based dashboard.  Currently the Meraki product lineup includes the MR-series Access Points, MS-series access switches and aggregation/distribution switches, and MX-series security appliances.  Basically, everything you need to run your business.  Here are some additional highlights of the Meraky cloud networking solution:

Cisco Meraki Deploys Rapidly
Cisco Meraki Visibility and Control
Cisco Meraki Built-in Multisite Management
Automatic monitoring and alerts
Cisco Meraki Products are Future-Proof!

Rapid deployment with self-provisioning, self-optimizing hardware

Control applications, users and devices

Built-in multi-site management

Cisco Meraki includes automatic monitoring and alerts

Future proof and always up to date, with seamless over-the-web firmware updates and new features delivered quarterly


Are Meraki Solutions Right for my company?

Meraki offers several ways for you to learn more about their products.  You can contact us of course, but if you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, I suggest you sign up for one of Meraki’s one-hour webinars.  You’ll hear the Meraki story, get a better look into one of their products or solutions, and in return for your time they’ll send you a FREE Meraki MR12 Access Point that you can plug in and test out for yourself.  If you want a more in-depth demonstration of how Meraki equipment can work in your environment they’re even willing to send you some of their Cloud Networking products so you can do you own in-house trial.

# # #

Meraki, Cisco, Cisco Meraki, and Cisco Systems and the Meraki, Meraki Cisco, and Cisco logos are registered trademarks of Cisco Systems Inc. in the United States and certain other countries.

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No, the SPA302 is not Compatible with the UC300 or UC500 (SBCS)

Update 1/9/2014: Last summer Cisco published an End-of-Life announcement for the UC320W and UC500-series products. We DO NOT recommend these products for new installs as SMARTNet is only available on them until January of 2017. Deploy with caution!

I know, I know – it’s featured on the Cisco SMB products homepage (seen below), it’s clearly listed as a 300-series SPA phone right next to the SPA301 and SPA303, but… unlike its siblings the “Cisco SPA302 Multi-Line DECT Handset” will not work with either the UC320W or the Cisco Smart Business Communications System (“SBCS”).  There are determined engineers out there who have duct-taped together a working integration but a) it’s a quite tedious and b) it’s not supported by Cisco TAC so I can’t recommend forcing the SPA302 into a solution using the Cisco small business phone systems.

Cisco SPA302 Shown on Cisco Small Business Homepage

Why won’t it work?

Cisco SPA302D Wireless Phone

Cisco SPA302D Wireless Phone

The SPA302 doesn’t use the same type of wireless network as laptops and smartphones.  It uses a protocol called “DECT,” which is like a modern version of the 900MHz cordless phones that have been available since the mid-1990s.  Without the ability to communicate with other IP-enabled devices such as the Cisco UC300 or UC500 series small business phone systems, it can’t be configured by or used with them.


Alternatives to the SPA302

If you’re looking for a wireless phone to work with the UC320W your best option at the time of this writing, unfortunately, is to use a regular analog cordless phone attached to the FXS port on the UC320W chassis. If your company needs additional FXS ports you can add a Cisco SPA8800 Analog Telephone Adaptor (“ATA”) the environment and it will provide you with four more FXO ports and four more FXS ports.

If you need a wireless phone for the Cisco SBCS then go for either the Cisco 7925 or Cisco 7926 wireless IP phones.  The only difference between the two is the 7926 has a two-dimensional barcode scanner, while the 7925 does not.  The only downside to the 7900 series wireless IP phones is they are a little pricey for the SMB market.  I think the last 7925 “kit” (phone, battery, charger, and Cisco SMARTNet) I sold came out to around $600.

If you were wanting the SPA302 to work with a Cisco phone system I hate to have been the bearer of bad news but hopefully you found this article before ordering any hardware.  Honestly, I wish Cisco had called this device the “SPA402″ to avoid the compatibility confusion but it is what it is.

Either way, thanks for taking the time to read this post.  If you still need help figuring out what phone will work best for your environment feel free to contact me.  I’ll probably write a more in-depth review of the SPA302 and SPA232 in the near future so click the “Like” button on the right to see when that comes out.  Just out of curiosity, have you found any stand-out cordless phones to use with a UC300 or UC500?  If so please let me and your fellow engineers know in the comments below!

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Life Before Computers

While Denton Business Solutions is only a few years old, most of our clients have existed for decades or longer.  Sure, most of those clients now depend on technology to stay competitive but we realize their businesses haven’t always depended on computers…

Before There were PCs

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Back to Work…

Well folks, it was a nice relaxing Easter weekend here at DBS.  We tried to work from home over the weekend but for some reason our computers just didn’t seem to work…

Sophie is asleep on the laptop keyboard

If you’re curious what you’re looking at, this is “Sophie”, the office mascot.  She’s a 4.5 pound mutt in desperate need of a haircut.  Happy Monday Funday!

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Olds, Ford and Sloan: The Automobile Upstarts

Most Americans would tell you the first American automobile was the Model T.  Untrue.  John William Lambert created the “Buckeye gasoline buggy” more than a decade before the Model T was invented. Why then does no one know who John Lambert is?  Because the Buckeye buggy never sold!  In fact, even if he was the first American to build an automobile, it was the pioneers below who created the industry as we know it.  To jump to the lessons we can learn from them skip to the conclusions.

Ransom E. Olds

Oldsmobile Curved Dash

An Oldsmobile Curved Dash, circa 1904

As soon as Karl Benz invented his automobile in Germany in 1885 there was a flurry of effort in the United States to duplicate his invention.  While he was not the first American to sell an automobile, Ransom Olds still saw an opportunity.  At a time when automobile companies were manufacturing their vehicles by hand Olds gathered capital, built a factory, and adopted mass production techniques to manufacture his Oldsmobiles.  By 1901, just four years after its founding, Oldmobile was producing 2500 automobiles a year, making it the first obvious leader of the American automobile market.

Henry Ford

A 1927 Ford Model T.  Black, of course.

A 1927 Ford Model T. Black, of course.

I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one — and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.    -Henry Ford

In 1908. a time of Oldsmobile’s dominance, Ford began to do just that.  The Ford Motor Company produced the first Model T with an initial price tag of $850 but over the course of the next 20 years used lean manufacturing and moving assembly lines to drive the price down to only $260 (about $5000 today).  As a result of Ford’s rock-bottom prices, the Ford Motor Company soon owned 50% of the global automobile market and had more than 10 million vehicles on the road.

Alfred Sloan

A 1908 Buick Model F

Buick’s first automobile – A 1908 Model F

Just when the Ford Company had dominated the automobile market, Alfred Sloan, then President of General Motors turned the market upside-down.  While the Model T was affordable and accessible, Sloan realized that consumers needed more choices in the market.  He organized General Motors into a progression of five brands from the value-oriented Chevrolet up to the premium Cadillac so consumers could stay in the GM “family” as their age and preferences (and income level) changed.  Additionally, Sloan pioneered annual style changes to the GM vehicles, introducing a sense of novelty to new cars that was previously non-existent.

In short, due to Henry Ford’s resistance to change (he was once quoted as saying consumers can “have any color he wants as long as it is black”), GM’s new approach to the automobile market captured new customers like never before and rocketed GM to the top of the automobile sales charts, a position GM enjoyed until the recent economic collapse began in 2007.


The men described here changed the world in which we live and while they made their millions a century ago we can still learn several lessons that can be applied today:

  1. Marketing is key.  You can invent the greatest product in the world but unless consumers know about it they can’t buy it!  It’s tempting to sink all your funds into development but make sure you budget sufficiently for marketing that will put your company in front of its target consumers.
  2. Go for mass market.  There is certainly money to be made by selling to niche markets but it’s much more risky.  If you indeed have a niche product, find ways to position it with overlapping or adjacent consumer groups to increase its marketability.
  3. Don’t be afraid to attack the incumbent.  Each of the automakers here left their mark on the industry by taking down the incumbent.  Unlike them, you don’t need heaps of capital to create a revolutionary product.  If you don’t believe me, just look at Craigslist, Skype, or Hulu.
  4. Treat your employees well.  Henry Ford paid his employees much more than his competition.  As a result, the Ford Motor Company had drastically reduced turnover, decreased training time, and much more innovation coming from the shop floor.  If you look out for your people, they will look out for you.
  5. Listen to your Consumers.  The main reason General Motors was able to steal the market from Ford was due to Ford’s resistance to change.  If you want to develop a winning product or service, don’t develop in a bubble.  Listen to your consumers and include their feedback in your design!

Have we missed anything here?  What else have the auto giants taught us?  Leave a comment below and let us know and always, if you enjoyed the article click the “Like” button below!

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