Lync - discussUC
Lync Partner Eco-System Driving Choice and Value for Customers Monday, 06 December 2010 19:29Written by Ashima Singhal
Lync 2010 launched on November 17, marking an important milestone in our journey to bring together different silos of communication. Chris Capossela and Gurdeep Singh Pall unveiled the product in New York and we enjoyed hearing from Bill Gates and our customers about the advantages of Lync over traditional solutions.
I wanted to follow up today to share some of the incredible momentum we are seeing with our partner eco-system. We are unique in the communications industry to have the benefit of one of the broadest eco-system of partners offering devices, products and services optimized for Lync. This wave of partner led innovation, driven by Lync’s open and interoperable platform, is helping to provide unprecedented choice and value for our customers across a broad spectrum of solutions and services.
I’d like to highlight partner solutions and services across four categories: Devices & video conferencing, Deployment Services, Custom Applications and Other Infrastructure & Communication Services.
Devices and Video Conferencing Solutions to round out the UC Experience -
Partners including Polycom, Aastra, Plantronics, Jabra, ClearOne, Logitech and Microsoft Hardware are announcing 70 new devices optimized to work with Lync! These include PCs, headsets, webcams, IP desk phones and conference room phones. ‘Optimized for Lync’ IP devices are designed to deliver a best-in-class user experience providing user functionalities like the ability to browse Outlook calendar, one click conference join and contact photos from SharePoint. Many of our customers including Nikon and Stoneridge are using a mix of IP Phones and headsets to accommodate users’ needs and preferences.
Video conferencing providers, Polycom and Radvision announced telepresence products and gateway solutions that are designed to interoperate with Lync. Through these offerings, Lync can connect with any standards based video and telepresence solution in the industry. Here’s a quote from, AT Kearney, on how they are using video between their different offices to connect and collaborate.
“So many of our employees work at small offices, at home, or at client sites, and the ability to communicate through video conferencing from these locations has really driven them to adopt the solution,” explains Kevin Rice, Global Network Architect at A.T. Kearney. Employees can use video conferencing through Communicator on the desktop, and the company has enabled Office Communications Server to work with its Polycom video conferencing bridges at the office.
Integration Service Partners helping Customers Deploy
100’s of our system integrator partners have been getting ready to help customers plan, evaluate, deploy and manage Lync. BT, Dell, Dimension Data, HP, Orange Business Services, T-Systems, Tieto and Verizon Business are some of the global partners with worldwide practices for Lync. These partners offer end to end services including consulting, design, deployment and management to help customers integrate Lync into their communications and IT environments. Browse through the partner showcase or find a partner to see how they can help introduce you to Lync.
Custom Applications take Communications into the Future
Partners are also taking advantage of the Lync platform to create an entirely new class of solutions that integrate communications within business applications and processes. Announcements include new offerings in areas such as contact centers, call recording and accounting that improve upon traditional solutions through more intuitive user interfaces and integration of concepts such as presence and expert search. Aspect announced Unified IP Contact Center solution, an enterprise level contact center solution built on Lync. Microsoft partner Gluck and Kanja, helped Herrenknecht, a world leader in tunneling technology integrate Lync with their inventory system for automatic notifications at different stock levels, thus reducing costs due to human latency and error. There are many such examples from partners such as Wortell, Geomant, Evangelyze, Convergent, Enabling and Proton Media. We have a number of videos showcasing these solutions that I encourage you to browse through –seeing these examples may help you generate ideas on how you can use communications to boost your business processes.
Infrastructure and Communication Services provide Choice and Cost Effective Offerings
Lastly, a number of partners are working closely with Microsoft to develop compatible hardware and services that complete the communications infrastructure. These include gateways, Survivable Branch Appliances, SIP Trunking and E911 Call routing solutions. Customers are already taking advantage of these new products. Tieto, for example, used a Survivable Branch Appliance from NET at one of their three Lync sites for a survivable, more cost effective deployment.
Even with all the solutions and services already in the marketplace, our partners are just getting started. We expect to see a ton of innovation and offerings as partners build on the Lync platform and help customers transform their communications and productivity infrastructure. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements and news from partners that we’ll continue to feature on this blog.
If you are already a Microsoft UC partner, visit the updated Microsoft Lync Resource Center on the Microsoft Partner Network to take advantage of new sales, marketing and training resources.
Lync Partner Marketing
How do you Measure Pent-Up Demand? Tuesday, 16 November 2010 11:31Written by Kirk Gregersen
My first week on the Lync team was back in the beginning of March. With VoiceCon in Orlando happening that week, it was a great chance to jump right in with both feet. When VoiceCon was over, the comments I’d heard in many customer conversations inspired me to post my first blog in the new role.
The last eight months have been a whirlwind of excitement and learning for me as the Lync team prepares for our global launch of Lync on Wednesday November 17th in the Big Apple. Recently, I’ve had time to reflect on the momentum and increasing demand that’s been building for this important release and what I have seen and heard has been nothing short of remarkable. So the challenge here is, how do I explain it to you in a way that makes it real, beyond just citing some of the studies and statistics that others have shared over the past few months?
What I settled on was sharing with you a few anecdotes that highlight why I’m excited going into launch this week. There were many, for certain, but here are some highlights…
In March, in addition to being the talk of the show at VoiceCon, our team in the UK presented Lync (then called Communications Server “14”) at the UC Expo in London. ZDNet’s David Meyer was there to report, but he could not even get into the event because it was so over-subscribed. Good reason to do a virtual launch!
The summer is traditionally a season of events for Microsoft, and this year we started in June with TechEd in New Orleans. TechEd is a technical education event for customers with lots of product sessions, hands on labs and workshops. I had a chance to mix and mingle with many customers and every single conversation either started or ended with, “when can I get the [Lync] bits?” I hope everyone who asked knows that the RTM bits will be available for evaluation next week at this location: www.lync.com. A similar thing happened at TechEd in Berlin last week, where the Lync overview session was packed with hundreds of people more than we had anticipated.
After TechEd New Orleans, Brent Kelly from Wainhouse Research wrote a comprehensive review of Lync, and we heard a lot of feedback on his post, including a hint that it was one of the most viewed posts in the history of the No Jitter website.
Then in July, Microsoft hosted the annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. The overview session again became overflow only, and Jamie Stark’s session on deployment options nabbed triple the number of attendees we’d planned for. Even after a room move, attendees still spilled out into the hallway on either side. A smaller group ended up staying for a full hour beyond the original hour of the session (during a 5pm timeslot!), even after the coffee had run out.
The partners that came to WPC often ended up hosting similar packed sessions themselves over the following months. For example, I recently received a note from our partner Dimension Data. In their Sydney Australia office, they host a monthly technical talk called Techspresso (I imagine they serve coffee for that too). Ordinarily they get about 40 attendees, but for the Lync Session, they had 100 people turn out. This has been a story repeated by many partners over the past several months as they did early demo sessions with customers around the world.
Getting this kind of reaction from customers and partners has been just one many terrific things about working on the Lync business over the past eight months and has only reinforced my own excitement going into launch. Hopefully we can share some of this with you during the worldwide virtual launch event this week on Wednesday, November 17th, 8am PST/11am EST – visit this link to attend: www.microsoft.com/lync/launch.
Wonderware Helps Manufacturers Improve Processes with New Communications Tools Friday, 05 November 2010 14:02Written by Rainer Podjoutomo
In this post I want to talk about one of our partners. Wonderware is a leading supplier of industrial software for manufacturing operations. Its solutions are used in approximately 125,000 plants worldwide. Wonderware recognized that many of its customers lacked efficient communications tools within their organizations. Kathleen Regan, Director of Strategic Alliances for Wonderware, says, “We have technology that can identify literally in microseconds whether a machine needs maintenance, but it might take hours for someone to decide whether to address the problem immediately or to wait a week. Those kinds of decisions have to be made by people, and industrial software doesn’t easily support decision-making processes.” Wonderware saw an opportunity to provide these capabilities within their products.
Instead of designing the capabilities itself, Wonderware worked with Microsoft to integrate Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 technology (now Microsoft Lync with the 2010 release) directly into its InTouch process control solutions. Now its customers have many new communications capabilities to help resolve issues quickly and minimize downtime at the production facilities. Presence information for key contacts appears directly on production control screens, and operators can start instant messaging sessions and audio and video conversations, as needed. With desktop sharing, operators can also share the control screen and even give control to a supervisor.
Key contacts with presence information are integrated directly into the InTouch process control screens.
Wonderware built in some really effective automation as well. When the process generates an alarm, the software sends an instant message to the operator and selected employees so that they can begin troubleshooting immediately. Operators can interface directly with the InTouch software from the chat window to pull diagnostic information from equipment and display to the other employees in the conversation. Participants can even control equipment directly from Communicator.
In this picture, the operator used the BOT to pull diagnostic information into the chat window and then initiated desktop sharing so the supervisor could see the InTouch control screen.
Because Wonderware can selectively implement particular Office Communications Server 2007 R2 components, it can more easily modify its industrial software. “This capability gives us room to provide a lot of added value with additional features and benefits in our own software,” says Regan. “It makes modifications much faster and easier than if we had to design the functionality ourselves.”
I really like this solution because I find it amazing how powerful the integration between communication tools and workplace software can be. Immediately getting the process control information to the people who can act on it will greatly reduce downtime. Wonderware is a great software company, so we are happy it chose to use Microsoft technology rather than developing its own solution. The APIs we provide with Office Communications Server and now with Microsoft Lync Server 2010 make it easy for our partners to integrate communications capabilities into their solutions so that they can focus on what they do best.
Product Manager, Microsoft Lync
Office 365: The Best of Everything We Know About Productivity in One Cloud Service Tuesday, 19 October 2010 13:00Written by Pam Avila
Today, Microsoft announced Office 365, which we believe will define the future of productivity. Office 365 is a new cloud service that brings enterprise-grade productivity to everyone - helping professionals and smaller orgs get access to enterprise-grade productivity solutions for the first time, and helping larger organizations reduce costs and stay current with the latest innovations more easily. Office 365 provides companies a great new way to always have the best productivity experience on the market. You can learn more about Office 365 on the new Office 365 blog and at the Microsoft News Center where you can also watch our global press conference announcing the new cloud service.
There are already millions of people around the world using Exchange Online, a key component of Office 365. Customers like GlaxoSmithKline, Godiva Chocolatier, and Swedish Red Cross are all using Exchange Online today. Plus, over 11 million students in thousands of institutions like City University of New York, and 700,000 students in the state of Kentucky are accessing their Exchange accounts online.
With Exchange Online, customers are accessing their email with the same familiar tools they have always used, Outlook, Outlook Web App and Outlook Mobile. No need to learn a new interface, just view, sort, and send your email the same way you always have consistently across the PC, phone and browser. And administrators who manage their organizations email infrastructure can manage their Exchange Online environment with the same, rich Exchange-based tools they have always used. For smaller companies, who didn't have the expertise to run an Exchange Server, you now have easy access to the gold standard in email and calendaring capabilities with Exchange Online.
The Office 365 Beta starts today. Get your spot at the Office 365 website starting at 12:00pm PDT.
For additional information on the new Exchange Online features coming in Office 365, check out Jon Orton's post on the EHLO blog.
Senior Director, Exchange Product Management
Introducing Microsoft Lync, the next OCS! Monday, 13 September 2010 10:39Written by Kirk Gregersen
It’s a pretty big day for the Office Communications team here at Microsoft. I’m excited to share that we’ve met a major milestone and are making the release candidate of our ‘wave 14’ communications products available for anyone to download. In addition, there has been much speculation on what the new name for the release would be, so I get to officially announce that here too – the new name is Microsoft Lync.
Let me provide a little more detail on both the release candidate and the new name than you’ll hear in the press release.
First the new name. For those of you who have followed the Office Communications business over the past several releases, you’ll know that this is an important milestone in a journey that started more than five years ago with a vision to transform communications with software. This vision, set out by leaders like Bill Gates, Jeff Raikes and Gurdeep Singh Pall, included bringing together various and “siloed” real-time communications systems and creating new ways for people to connect with each other. Lync 2010 is the release that delivers on this vision by unifying enterprise voice, instant messaging and web, audio and video conference – all within the same user experience and back-end infrastructure, as well connecting people in new ways through things like integrated expect search and interactive contact cards throughout Office.
As we watched Lync 2010 develop into reality, we wanted a new name that reflected the major product transformation. In that sense, Lync – a combination of “link” and “sync” – is about connecting people in new ways, anytime, anywhere. Beyond simplifying and shortening the current branding, customer research found that the name Lync appeals to end users and IT pros, even more than descriptive options like Communicator. If you’ve ever worked on a branding process, you know how personal it can be. Everyone involved has their favorite name (and of course none of them are the same!). So we were pleased that most people in research and internally gravitated toward Lync. We hope you like the name as much as we do.
With the 2010 release, we will use Lync as the ‘family’ brand and within each of our communications products:
|Product||2010 Release||2007 Release|
|Family||Microsoft Lync||Microsoft Office Communications|
|The server||Microsoft Lync Server 2010||Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2|
|The client||Microsoft Lync 2010||Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2|
|The service||Microsoft Lync Online||Microsoft Office Communications Online|
|The web client||Microsoft Lync Web App||Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access|
Now about the release candidate. With nearly 20,000 people inside Microsoft and more than 100 enterprise customers already using the Lync 2010 beta, the R&D team is on track to deliver the product to market before the end of the year. I’ve been using Lync 2010 for about six months now, both in conjunction with a beta IP phone from Polycom, as well as via my laptop on its own (primarily when I’m traveling or at home).
Some of the new ways of communicating that I’ve grown attached to over the last six months include:
Switching between my head-set and laptop or speakerphone, in the middle of a call with device switching.
Selecting multiple people in my contact list and initiating a group call. If I need to add someone else, I can ‘drag’ their name from the list to the call.
Leaving the office and taking my call with me on my mobile phone.
Having Lync test my network connection before I start a video call or meeting.
Going from IM, to voice, to video to app sharing, all within the same client experience.
The R&D team has gathered and incorporated tons of great feedback in the release candidate, including many suggestions from previous releases (check out the new dial-pad in Lync 2010 as just one example). After testing, we essentially freeze the code, and make this near final cut of the software – i.e., the release candidate – available for broader use. As of today, you can download it here, as well as get more information on the release here.
We hope that many of you will take a look and like Lync 2010 as much as the early beta testers have.
Everybody’s Talking about Communications Server “14” Thursday, 09 September 2010 16:20Written by BJ Haberkorn
It’s great to see the high interest with which partners, customers, and even competitors are anticipating the launch of Communications Server “14.” Thousands of people in our early Technology Adopter Program, or TAP, already rely on “14” to provide their phone, conferencing, messaging, and other communications, many of them since February. This number will increase dramatically when we make the release candidate (RC) software available in a few days. Of course, thousands of customers already rely on the currently shipping version of Communications Server for mission critical operations: for example, I just read a recap of a customer case study that highlight how a national police force replaced Cisco IP telephony and cellular phones for 18,000 officers with OCS 2007 R2, because it, in their words, “..helps our IT department do its job better and faster, just as it does for our police officers.” Even Cisco is “interested” in “14” – they posted a web page last week critiquing it, despite the fact that it is not even generally available yet.
Communications Server “14” is the fifth major release of our product that combines presence, instant messaging, conferencing, and voice in a single system. One system for customers to purchase, manage, and secure, instead of separate systems for presence, IM, conferencing, and voice/telephony. As a result, the investments of Microsoft and our customers in scalability, security, and high availability apply to all the ways people communicate, not just voice. Communications Server “14” customers can take advantage of redundancy within a data center to survive server failures, failover scenarios across data centers to survive data center disasters, and appliances for branch offices that provide telephony and instant messaging in the case of WAN outages. Customers like Royal Dutch Shell and Intel take advantage of our highly available and scalable technology to serve tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of users every day.
Note: If you want to learn more about our architecture for high availability, survivable branch communications, our support for QoS and call admission control, our new planning and deployment tools, and a host of other “14” innovations, you can view all of our Tech Ed presentations online. Just search for “Communications Server.” You’ll be set for a fast start with the RC bits.
Having a single system, rather than multiple systems, simplifies deployment and operations. We see it over and over again with customers. Sprint is replacing 489 PBX systems spread across the United States with a centralized Communications Server deployment, and projects annual savings of more than $9 million. Already, nearly 20,000 Sprint employees use Communicator instead of a PBX phone. Another good example is A. T. Kearney. They considered adding additional Cisco UC technology to their existing Cisco VoIP system, but chose to add Communications Server instead. In the words of Kevin Rice, Global Network Architect at A.T. Kearney, “A big advantage for us was cost avoidance. With Office Communications Server, everything comes in one package, and we could set up conferencing and VoIP without incurring additional costs.” I’ll repeat it for emphasis: A.T. Kearney found that it is more cost effective to enhance an existing Cisco VoIP system with Microsoft Communications Server than to add Cisco UC technology. And, by doing so, they have the option to replace it altogether in the future when appropriate based on amortization schedules and other factors. (Read this post from my colleague, Jamie Stark, to learn more about replacing or enhancing your existing IP PBX.)
By choosing Communications Server as the single system to provide their unified communications, customers get an even bigger benefit: higher user productivity, inside and outside the office. Realizing return on Investment (ROI) requires that people adopt and use a system, which in turn depends heavily on ease of use. Communications Server delivers ease of use through a single client that provides all modes of communication, and by making communications available in the applications people use most, including Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint. This short video illustrating the difference between configuring mobile phone integration on Communications Server and Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager shows the difference a well-designed user interface can make – features only matter if people can figure out how to use them. Of course, our customers experience the difference our great user experience makes. As Joe Hamblin, Manager of Unified Communications at Sprint, said, "…People are excited. They’re enthusiastic... They go back and share their excitement with their peers, and this type of “viral acceptance” facilitates the implementation. Right now, I have more demand than I can keep up with”.
Sprint, A.T. Kearney, Royal Dutch Shell, and many other customers share something beyond a need for a great user experience delivered a single highly available and secure communications platform: enabling remote work outside the corporate network is a business necessity. Communications Server is designed to enable all end user functions to work identically inside or outside the organization, and to work seamlessly across office, home, client, and on-the-road scenarios without requiring additional network hardware, smart-cards, or other VPN access. The A.T. Kearney case study, for example, highlights the value of Communications Server to their bread-and-butter: consultants working at client sites. All Microsoft employees around the world use Communications Server as well, and more than 75,000 no longer need or have a PBX phone.
What comes next? Twelve companies announced compatible products and services at VoiceCon in March, and I expect more than twice that many to announce beta versions of their “14” compatible products in the coming weeks. These partners provide traditional solutions include IP telephones and contact centers, and an entirely new class of applications that integrate communications deeply within business applications and processes. The choice and value that Communications Server “14” and partner companies provide to customers is simply not available to buyers of proprietary, vertically integrated solutions, and is proof that real interoperability and openness has finally arrived in the communications market. The proof is in the numbers – just look at the chart from VoiceCon showing system level pricing information provided by Microsoft and other vendors here – the list price of a Microsoft-based system capable of full unified communications is less expensive than the discounted price of IP PBX systems from Cisco, Avaya, and others.
Better user experience, better operations and management, better value. And we’re just getting started.
Communications Server Product Management
For further info visit: http://www.microsoft.com/communicationsserver/cs14/en/us/default.aspx
Looking Forward to VoiceCon Orlando 2010 Thursday, 18 March 2010 12:35Written by Aerosetry
I can’t believe that VoiceCon is already here again. It seems like yesterday that Gurdeep Singh Pall was on stage encouraging people to compare the relative value of a $300 IP PBX phone that lets people make phone calls from their desks, and a $300 laptop that provides those same people with voice, video, instant messaging, presence, and conferencing nearly anyplace with Internet connectivity.
On the other hand, it may seem like another life to those many customers that adopted Office Communications Server and transformed both how and where their people work. We often highlight customer successes, and I particularly like Dimension Data’s story. Dimension Data wanted to change their culture, and help people communicate using tools other than the telephone and the business trip. They chose Office Communications Server after testing and piloting offerings from multiple vendors. What were the results? 49% reduction in travel costs. Lower conferencing costs. Enriched communications. Better work-life balance. Similar results are reflected in other case studies.
There has been lots of Microsoft and partner news as well. In April, we announced the availability of SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Office Communications Online in 19 countries. In May, HP and Microsoft announced a strategic initiative to deliver end to end communications and collaboration. In October, we released XMPP capability and simplified our connectivity to public internet messaging services such as AOL and Windows Live. One thing we didn’t mention in the related PressPass announcement was that, at that time, Microsoft was federated with roughly 1000 organizations, and our customers with uncounted others. Our federation capability was first released in 2004, and allows encrypted voice, video, IM, presence and application content to be carried in real time over the Internet between different organizations.
We publicly unveiled SharePoint 2010 at the SharePoint Conference (SPC) in October, and followed that with the launch of Exchange 2010 at TechEd Europe in November. The virtual launch experience is fantastic, the reviews have been great, and customers worldwide are taking advantage of the new capabilities. In fact, Julia White, Director of Exchange Product Management, used a number of customer examples in her New Year’s Top Ten list. It’s an excellent post, and capped an exciting year.
Back to the present. At VoiceCon next week, we’ll have a few familiar elements, and at least one that is out of the ordinary. First, the familiar. We have a spot on the show floor and a separate area where we can meet privately with customers, and, of course, Gurdeep will present a keynote on Wednesday. His keynote is always a highlight of the show for me.
Another highlight for us this year is Allan Sulkin’s annual IP PBX RFP session. Why would Microsoft participate in an IP PBX session when Office Communications Server offers much more than voice? Simply put, we wanted to make it easy for telephony and unified communications professionals to compare our voice capabilities to the solutions they’ve traditionally purchased. We provided a full written response to the RFP based on Microsoft software plus partner infrastructure, endpoints, and services, and I will personally participate on Allan’s vendor panel. Come to Allan’s session if you’re at VoiceCon, or visit the Communications Server web page to download our response once the show is over.
In addition, we’re participating in the UC Executive Forum and the Communications Architecture plenary sessions on Monday and several breakouts throughout the week. My colleague, Jamie Stark, will join the “Comparing UC Options: Who’s Offering What?” and the “Marrying Social Networking and Enterprise Communications” sessions, and our colleague Albert Kooiman will present in “Deep Dive – Implementation Options: Unified Communications”, “How Much Voice Mail do you really need?”, and “Presence: Preferences and Rules Drive Communications Effectiveness.”
An open question is whether we’ll be able to address a challenge that’s been growing since we released the first version of Office Communications Server in 2007. During the last three years, literally thousands of customers have deployed our product and, as a result, many have PBX and IP PBX phones they no longer need. What can they do with all those phones? Some are sold on the gray market and re-used, which is environmentally friendly and greatly improves the PBX phone purchase economics for the buyer. But we aren’t sure if demand can keep up with supply. For this reason, we tried to find an alternate use for a few of the phones displaced by Office Communications Server deployments. I feel pretty good about where we landed.
Come visit us on the VoiceCon floor from March 22 through March 25 and see for yourself.
Senior Product Manager, Communications Server
We’re heading east for WPC 2010. Thursday, 08 July 2010 12:03Written by Pam Avila
Microsoft will host our annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) next week, and we are eager to see our partners in Washington, D.C.
On the heels of a successful showing at TechEd NA last month where we announced beta availability of Exchange Server 2010 SP1 and disclosed the features coming in Communications Server ‘14’, we are excited to turn our attention to our partner ecosystem and highlight not only the great partner momentum currently in market but also look ahead to the business opportunities Exchange and Communications Server ‘14’ will bring to our partners.
Want to plug into WPC activities? Attend the event in person or connect via Digital WPC:
UC Symposium and WPC 2010 (Washington, D.C., July 11-15th)
The Exchange and Communications Server teams from Redmond will host our Unified Communications Symposium on Sunday, following the conclusion of the World Cup final match. Monday will kickoff with keynotes from Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, President of the Microsoft Business Division, Stephen Elop and Chris Capossela, SVP for Microsoft’s IW PMG. Hear from Exchange’s Julia White and Ian Hameroff and Communications Server’s Kirk Gregersen and Jamie Stark as they lead sessions under the Business Productivity track on Monday afternoon as well. More than 15 other sessions across different tracks including EPG, SMB, Systems Integrator and Cloud Services will highlight Exchange and Communications Server, and we encourage partners to attend these sessions detailed in the conference catalog.
We look forward to seeing our partners at booth #155 on the expo floor where they can see demos of Exchange Server 2010 SP1 and Communications Server ‘14’. Partners can participate in our Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) at our booth. CIE is a hands-on environment where partners can test drive our business productivity platform in real time. Finally, swing by booth #277 to learn more about BPOS from the Microsoft Online Services team.
If you do not plan to attend the conference next week, tune into digitalwpc.com to view streaming keynotes from Steve Ballmer, Stephen Elop and Chris Capossela and other Microsoft executives throughout the week. Videos of Exchange and Communications Server breakout sessions and corresponding decks will be available shortly after WPC here.
We look forward to seeing our partners in D.C.!
Kristin Murray, UC Partner Marketing
Licensing Communications Server “14” Voice and Conferencing Tuesday, 15 June 2010 12:33Written by
Licensing Communications Server “14” Voice and Conferencing
It has been a busy spring! We provided a first look at Communications Server “14” capabilities at VoiceCon Orlando, published a Microsoft response to the associated IP PBX RFP, and, with other industry leaders, launched the UC Interoperability Forum, or UCIF, a non-profit, open alliance of worldwide technology companies working together to help customers fully realize the potential of unified communications (UC). Customers confirm the importance of UC interoperability every day when they use our products with their existing gear. In fact, my colleague, Jamie Stark, posted an update on our UC Open Interoperability Program (UCOIP) earlier this week, and gave examples of different customers taking advantage to replace, enhance, or add to their existing IP PBX systems with Communications Server functionality today.
This post provides more information on the licensing changes coming with Communications Server “14” (CS “14) described in the April 15 Microsoft Volume Licensing brief. In a nutshell, with “14” we are offering separate licenses for our enterprise voice functionality and our unified conferencing functionality. This allows customers to choose whether to license our voice, our conferencing, or both. With Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 R2, a single license covers both conferencing and voice, and customers can only license voice and conferencing together. The difference is shown in the tables below. (The name of the new license is shown in quotes as it is not final.)
The brief also explains that the price of the CS “14” Enterprise CAL will be lower than the price of the OCS 2007 R2 Enterprise CAL, and that customers who purchase the OCS R2 Enterprise CAL before the release of CS “14” and maintain their Software Assurance (SA) will have access rights equivalent to the rights under the “Voice” CAL for the CS “14” release at minimum.
The effect is that existing customers who meet the requirements will get the complete set of enterprise voice functionality we deliver in CS “14” for no additional charge. Some of them will get CS “15” as well.
What about new customers?
A new customer who wants to add Communications Server-based instant messaging, presence, and conferencing to their existing IP PBX system, but who is not yet ready to use our voice capability, will pay less using the CS “14” licensing than they would using the OCS 2007 R2 licensing. The reason is that, as noted above, the CS “14” Enterprise CAL, which is specific to conferencing, costs less than the OCS 2007 R2 Enterprise CAL, which includes both conferencing and voice. The new customer will not pay for voice functionality until they’re ready to use it.
How about a new customer who wants to replace their IP PBX with Communications Server “14”? For example, how would the new structure affect the price for the Microsoft submission to the VoiceCon Orlando IP PBX RFP? To give some background – the VoiceCon show, now Enterprise Connect, issues a mock IP PBX RFP each spring and invites PBX vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, Alcatel, and Siemens to provide a written response, including system level pricing, and participate in a panel discussion at the show. Although we are not a PBX vendor, we participated this year to demonstrate the completeness of our CS “14” voice offer. The pricing in our response is based on the OCS 2007 R2 structure, and is really good. The list price in the Microsoft proposal – including IP phones, gateways, and servers -- is lower than the discounted prices from all other vendors except one. And our discounted price is the lowest. (You can see the pricing summary in a previous blog from me or you can watch a video of the full session by Allan Sulkin.)
If we used the CS “14” licensing for the VoiceCon RFP response, our price would have been even better. The reason is that the new “Voice” CAL will also cost less than the OCS 2007 R2 Enterprise CAL, and includes our full set of telephony features including ad hoc audio conferencing as required by the RFP. As such, a CS “14” bid for a PBX RFP that specifies the CS “14” Standard CAL and “Voice” CAL would be lower than the existing OCS 2007 R2 bid that specifies the OCS 2007 R2 Standard CAL and Enterprise CAL.
A new customer will pay more with CS “14” than OCS 2007 R2 if they want to use our full set of voice and conferencing capabilities to replace or enhance their existing IP PBX systems, but they’ll also get more, including call admission control for voice and video, support for Enhanced 9-1-1, survivable branch telephony, and multiple options for data center resiliency. Our analysis shows that a full Microsoft “14” UC solution including all the functionality covered by the CS “14” Standard, Enterprise, and “Voice” CALs would still be more cost effective than the plain old IP telephony offers from the other vendors that participated in the VoiceCon RFP session.
We offer great value to customers with “14”, and give them the ability to choose how much of our UC stack to use in order to best meet their unique needs.
OCS Product Management
Partners announce solutions to complement Microsoft Communications Server “14” Tuesday, 23 March 2010 15:38Written by Aerosetry
Many of our partners announced new solutions for Microsoft Communications Server “14” at VoiceCon Orlando this week, demonstrating both the maturity of our partner ecosystem and industry support for our Unified Communications vision.
Customers benefit from the investments and innovation of multiple partners in our open, horizontal ecosystem, and have the flexibility to select the partner products that best meet their specific communications solution needs. This includes industry standard servers, telephony gateways, and both IP Phone and USB endpoints.
Here are some highlights of the new partner solutions that support Microsoft Communications Server “14”:
Survivable branch appliances
AudioCodes, Dialogic, Ferrari electronic AG, HP, and NET announced survivable branch appliance products that provide local telephony services for remote offices in the event of a wide area network failure. These products include integrated PSTN gateway functionality with a variety of densities and interface types, and, like other third party gateways, will be qualified via the Microsoft Unified Communications Open Interoperability Program. The Open Interoperability Program is intended to help ensure that customers have seamless experiences with the setup, support, and use of a variety of third party products and services with Communications Server.
Aastra and Polycom introduced IP phones optimized for Microsoft Communicator “14.” Customers can now choose common area and information worker phones from both vendors, and conference room phones from Polycom. Several of the products integrate with Communicator “14” via a simple USB connection to provide streamlined setup, multimedia calling, and desktop control of the phone. Customers can also take advantage of existing IP, USB, and PC products offered by Polycom, ClearOne, Plantronics, Jabra, Logitech, Microsoft, HP, Lenovo, and others. These “optimized” endpoints offer a high quality user experience and “just works” installation in a wide variety of form factors and price points.
Enhanced 9-1-1 call routing services
911 Enable and Intrado announced their plans to provide North American customers with routing services for emergency calls. These services, together with Communications Server “14,” will provide customers with an innovative, flexible, and cost effective Enhanced 9-1-1 solution.
New contact center and call accounting and recording solutions.
Aspect Unified IP and Aspect eWorkforce Management enhance first call resolution, provide additional contact channels, and easily schedule experts to manage customer inquiries. Quest MessageStats, a message reporting and analysis tool, provides detailed usage information and internal reporting for billing and chargeback purposes through a single interface. In addition, Nice Systems SmartCenter allows Microsoft Communications Server “14” customers to benefit from real-time, cross-channel interaction analytics to impact customer interactions as they occur and use insights gained to improve their organization’s business performance.
Many of these partners are attending VoiceCon Orlando. Visit their booths to learn more.
Partner Team, Unified Communications