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Colombian National Police Improves Efficiency, Cuts Costs with Microsoft Communications Server Monday, 16 August 2010 14:38Written by Dean Howarth
I’d like to share the story of how the Columbia National Police are using Microsoft Office Communications Server to improve police work and save money. The 150,000 police officers on the force work in a range of locations, from busy urban streets to isolated jungle villages. Prior to deploying their Microsoft solution, the organization used a Cisco IP telephony system for voice communications, and many police officers also relied on their personal mobile phones to keep in touch with each other. Officers had no way to see if colleagues were available for email or voice communications and frequently experienced poor audio quality on calls. The telephony solution was also expensive to maintain.
“Rural sites sometimes had no access to communications at all, and we had to travel to those areas to deliver news and orders,” says Jairo Gordillo, Colonel, Colombian National Police, explaining just how difficult communications could be. “Previously, we had to send a message from headquarters to a regional capital, and then that message would be sent by boat up a river, through a forest, and finally to the officer. That process took an entire day.”
In the process of replacing a portion of their telephony capabilities with Office Communications Server, the police force gained the ability to make use of instant messaging and rich presence information among nearly 18,000 officers. Many field officers equipped with laptops can make VoIP calls, view presence, or send an instant message right from their squad cars. “Officers are using our improved communications tools to prevent crimes by sharing intelligence about criminal activity, for example,” says Gordillo. “Using Office Communications Server 2007, we can locate and apprehend criminals more easily because we have real-time information about their movements. In some cases, we have also equipped officers with smartphones that have Office Communications Server 2007, which means they can locate and apprehend criminals on the move more effectively as well.”
The organization expects to save thousands of dollars annually on hardware costs and phone charges. It can also use the solution’s integrated video and audio conferencing functionality to provide additional employee training opportunities. The IT department has full control over the entire communications infrastructure, making it easy to manage. “We will save around $200 per computer or mobile device by using Office Communications Server 2007 because it will help us greatly reduce mobile phone costs.” Hardware costs, too, will be much lower. “We can easily manage all communications now because we have a single solution and single vendor for voice and email,” says Gordillo. “As a whole, this new solution helps our IT department do its job better and faster, just as it does for our police officers.”
This story impresses me because it highlights the value and importance of real time communications beyond the desk. The Colombian National Police officers are taking advantage of unified communications capabilities from Microsoft to fight crime. At the same time the organization is saving a lot of money compared to the telephony solution it replaced.
Partner Opportunities to Address Email Archiving Needs with Exchange 2010 SP1 Monday, 12 July 2010 12:41Written by Dean Howarth
Partner Opportunities to Address Email Archiving Needs with Exchange 2010 SP1
Last year at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2009, we talked to our partners about the new business opportunities made possible by our addition of integrated email archiving and discovery with Exchange Server 2010. In November, we launched Exchange 2010, one of the most successful and exciting launches in Exchange’s history. This week at WPC 2010, we’re focusing on how enhanced email archiving in Exchange 2010 SP1 continues to expand partner business opportunities.
Partners agreed that email archiving and compliance presents a tremendous opportunity to deliver new services to their customers while driving adoption of the full platform capabilities of Exchange; for example, consulting engagements that average $30-$40K in new services revenue.
Moreover, partners gave us great feedback on how we could make the feature set even more compelling: we needed to give customers the flexibility and choice of tiered storage (storing the archive mailbox on a different Exchange database from the primary), support for Outlook 2007, and additional e-Discovery capabilities, like search de-duplication.
Shipping later this year, SP1 adds the functionality partners told us they needed to more successfully position Exchange 2010 archiving, and help customers eliminate PST files, simplify email retention for compliance, and drastically lower the cost for email e-Discovery. Both analysts and customers recognize the importance and value of archiving:
“Generally speaking, companies will not have to wait for SP1 to deploy Exchange 2010 — but they should be mindful of the changes in SP1. The most significant elements of SP1 relate to the archive feature, which will support multiple tiers of storage for primary and archive mailboxes provisioned on separate Exchange databases.” - First Service Pack for Microsoft Exchange 2010: Finishing the Job, Gartner (May 4, 2010)
“PST files are quite a nightmare for IT to manage. We look forward to Exchange 2010 negating the need for supporting PSTs. It’s going to take a lot of headaches away for us,” said Ronald Loewenthal, Customer Service Manager at Super Group, a supply chain management firm.
Our SP1 enhancements are demonstrative of our investments and ongoing innovation at a rapid pace and provide key opportunities for our partners:
For Large Account Resellers (LARs) and Value Account Resellers (VARs), there are now more benefits to land the full value of platform capabilities with your customers that include enhanced archiving, voicemail, information protection and control functionalities.
Delivering even more value over pure messaging engagements, Systems Integrators extend messaging services with new revenue generating offerings including email archiving and voicemail practices.
And ISVs can leverage the extensibility APIs (like the e-Discovery web services API) to enhance the native functionality in Exchange 2010 with advanced compliance and discovery tools.
Attending WPC in D.C. this week? Attend Exchange breakout and interactive sessions this afternoon. And stop by the Business Productivity booth (#155) on the expo floor this week.
Kristin Murray, UC Partner Marketing
WPC 2010: Greetings from D.C. Monday, 12 July 2010 12:38Written by Dean Howarth
The Worldwide Partner Conference kicked off this morning, and over 9,400 Microsoft partners are joining us in DC. The Worldwide Partner Conference (‘WPC’) is our largest partner event of the year and provides an opportunity to meet with partners, congratulate and celebrate our partners’ successes, and share our business priorities for the upcoming year. This year is particularly significant with the upcoming Communications Server “14” launch and our team is excited about the opportunities this brings our partners.
A growing and robust partner ecosystem
Communications Server provides a platform for partners to offer a number of complementary solutions that provide flexibility and choice to customers. Many of our partners that adopted the software transformation of communications early are already seeing increased revenue, finding new business opportunities and tapping into markets that they would not have been able to access with the limited solutions from traditional communications vendors.
Three years ago, Microsoft was a newcomer at VoiceCon with just a handful of partners on the expo floor. At this year’s VoiceCon show (March 2010), more than 75% of the vendors are partnering with Microsoft Communications Server – either interoperating their solutions delivering complementary products such as devices, gateways and solutions. Twelve partners simultaneously announced new solutions for Microsoft Communications Server “14” at VoiceCon. These solutions spanned survivable branch office appliances, enhanced 9-1-1 call routing services, new contact center solutions and more.
Polycom and Aastra, who announced their low cost IP desk phones at VoiceCon, made further announcements at WPC. Available in the fourth quarter of 2010, Polycom’s CX series phones are affordably priced from MSRP U.S. $199 for the CX500 IP phone, designed for use in public areas, and $299 for the CX600 IP desktop phone. These low cost IP desk phones enable a broader set of customers to deploy and use Communications Server “14”.
Additionally, HP, Juniper Networks and Brocade are participating in Microsoft’s Network Optimization program, which optimizes the performance between the network and Communications Server to deliver the most reliable business communications including presence, instant messaging, conferencing, video and voice. In addition, BT is our newest SIP Trunking partner following their recent qualification with Microsoft Communications Server.
In addition to our technology partners, we are also excited about the successes and growth of our services partner eco-system. A number of partners providing services based on Exchange and SharePoint are now expanding their business by offering the full Unified Communications stack, adding Instant Messaging, Conferencing and Enterprise Voice via Communications Server. Many of the traditional voice partners have also created Communications Server practices because they are seeing more and more customer demand and relevance for a software based solution.
Why is this upcoming release of Communication Server ‘14’ significant for partners?
Communications Server “14” enables partners to expand service offerings. Communications Server is now a complete communications system that provides IM, rich Presence, Conferencing and Enterprise Voice without needing to rip or replace legacy systems.
Key service opportunities for partners include adding IM/presence, deploying conferencing, and replacing or enhancing legacy communications. These communications and collaboration capabilities can be added to a customer’s environment as part of a routine software upgrade cycle. Adding services like these can generate incremental revenue for partners in the 20% range, compared to the 5-7% hardware margin many partners already recognize. Adding services is just the beginning.
Many partners are already leveraging the extensible platform of Communications Server to develop new applications that include built in communications capabilities for their customers. Truly understanding their customers’ business and helping to streamline and increase customer revenue helps these develop deeper relationships with their customers.
“We’ve found that by using OCS as a platform, deployment is not the end of the engagement – it is the start of a long-lasting business relationship.” - Kevin Ross, Product Sales and Marketing Director, Geomant
Our vibrant partner ecosystem is our best asset for assisting customers to build out a communications infrastructure that is integrated, unified, optimized and cost effective. These partners are developing solutions and delivering services that provide customer choice to best meet their specific communications needs. This momentum is a sign that our partner community believes in our Unified Communications vision.
Are you attending WPC this year? Join us for the Communications Server “14” breakout and interactive sessions in the Business Productivity track Monday afternoon. And stop by the Business Productivity booth (#155) on the expo floor this week to see the demo of our upcoming release.
Kristin Murray, UC Partner Marketing
Polycom and Microsoft expand their relationship Monday, 09 August 2010 11:00Written by Dean Howarth
We are announcing today that Polycom has signed a multi-year agreement with Microsoft, becoming one of our strategic partners to offer integrated solutions in the Unified Communications space. Our goal is to deliver products to help our customers improve productivity, overcome communications challenges, and adjust their structure to the current economic environment, supporting things like: mobile workers, telepresence, and globally distributed teams. Both companies are committed to developing standards-based solutions that are interoperable and that protect customer investments and choices.
As we approach the launch of Microsoft Communications Server “14”, we are excited to deliver on this milestone. The benefits of our integrated solution are already being seen by our early adopter customers and partners. Many have been testing the new Polycom IP phones and conferencing phones that will be available at launch. Their feedback has been very positive. For the long-term, this relationship will bring a roadmap of new technologies centered around 3 pillars:
New and next-generation Polycom CX series endpoints optimized for Microsoft UC, featuring Polycom’s market-leading HD video and voice technologies
New, innovative room-based video systems designed specifically for enabling direct integration with Microsoft Communications Server “14”
Additional interoperable solutions between Polycom’s existing and future video conferencing solutions
To help our channel partners, Polycom and Microsoft will provide joint go-to-market components that include an integrated solution selling message , combined sales and marketing support, and joint marketing campaigns, as well as training and technical resources.
If you’d like to learn more about how Polycom is working with Microsoft, please check out the video interview with Gurdeep Singh Pall (Microsoft Corporate VP, Unified Communications) and Andy Miller (Polycom CEO) on our Virtual Press Room Video Gallery: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/2010office/videoGallery.aspx.
You can also read the official press release on the Polycom website: http://www.polycom.com/company/news_room/press_releases/2010/20100809.html
Senior Marketing Manager
Microsoft Communications Server
Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 Recap Friday, 30 July 2010 12:11Written by Kristen Murray
WPC 2010 was Microsoft’s largest partner conference ever with over 14,000 attendees from 130 countries. WPC provided an opportunity to meet with partners, congratulate and celebrate our partners’ successes, and share our business priorities for the upcoming year at our UC Pre-Day and WPC sessions. Walking away from WPC, there is a legion of Systems Integrators, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), Resellers, Telco and Hardware partners readied and excited to help customers like you realize the full benefits of Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Communications Server ‘14’.
Our team is excited to kickoff this fiscal year with a strong partner ecosystem that is activated and eager to deliver our unified communications solutions to you. Partners are coming to the cloud with us and are ready to advise you on how to take advantage of our growing cloud portfolio spanning Exchange Online, Office Communications Online, SharePoint Online, all the way to Windows Azure and Windows Intune.
Kristin Murray, UC Partner Marketing
Microsoft Communications Server Aids in Diagnosing Patients Remotely Tuesday, 20 July 2010 12:59Written by Rainer Podjoutomo
The Office Communications Group recently published a video case study which focuses on a CEBP (Communication Enabled Business Process) implementation in which Office Communications Server (OCS) plays a critical role saving patients’ lives. This video shows how a Russian hospital is able to use OCS as a Telemedicine solution to remotely diagnose patients. One of Microsoft’s Gold Certified Partners in Russia (Lotsman Plus), built this custom hosted solution using OCS as a CEBP platform, integrating with SharePoint.
When patients in rural areas suffer a heart problem, they go to a local clinic which can often be kilometers away from major cities in Russia. While the rural clinic facility is critical for the community, the clinic doctor often does not have the level of expertise or equipment to conduct surgery operations. They frequently only have diagnostic/imaging equipment and need to consult with other surgeons/specialists to diagnose critical situations. Using this imaging equipment, they can scan a patient’s heart and the video & still images are automatically uploaded to SharePoint servers hosted at Lotsman Plus. Clinic doctors can then start an OCS conferencing session with specialists in the Federal Cardiovascular Center in Penza, a major city in Russia. During the OCS conferencing session, specialists can diagnose a patient’s heart on a real time basis, control remote-playback of videos/images uploaded to the OCS + SharePoint custom apps, then advise the patient on their condition. This allows them to make important decisions about whether to immediately bring the patient to the Center for surgery.
I particularly like this video because it shows how technology can enhance the way doctors treat patients remotely, but also how the technology offered by OCS can help to prolong peoples’ lives.
Product Manager, Office Communications Group