Authors: Tom Puorro
When I meet with customers, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is what makes a tablet suitable for enterprise use. It’s a great question. I then share my thoughts – and they in turn provide theirs.
The timing’s right to consider this – at least when considering projections, such as from Deloitte, which are forecasting ...
Authors: Lync Team
We have won a lot of projects with customers who were considering some of our competitors’ products. I took a closer look at what makes Lync a better solution for these customers, and what I found was that customers believe Lync stands above its competition because of features that are easy to use and the interoperation...
Authors: Dean Howarth
In this post I’d like to talk about how the Microsoft Partner ecosystem offers customers a real choice when they need help transforming their communications platforms. Black & Veatch, an engineering, consulting, and construction company, was faced with an outdated telephony system and an increasingly mobile...
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
In this post I’d like to bring your attention to an amazing solution developed by our partner ICT Wortell in the Netherlands. The solution, called ikpraat.nl (“I Talk” in English), is a secure, virtual communications environment on the Internet developed for people with mental limitations. The application, built on Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office Communications Server, provides a simple UI that enables users to initiate email, instant message or video chatting in five easy steps. Many of us take these types of communications for granted, but they have not always been within everyone’s ability to use. In the video, we meet Roseanne, who now uses Office Communications Server to stay in touch with her brother. Having access to daily communication with loved ones is making a huge difference in these user’s lives.
Wortell, Microsoft Netherlands, and healthcare facility deHartekampgroep collaborated on the development of this communications solution. Using Microsoft SharePoint Server, they created a simplified, customizable user interface that makes it easier for people at different developmental levels to access the capabilities of Office Communications Server and Exchange Server.
I particularly like this story because it shows how relevant technology can be for improving people’s lives. So many opportunities exist to help people become less isolated in both their personal and professional lives through these technologies. When Wortell took advantage of the easy integration of Office Communications Server with other Microsoft software products, they created a solution that filled a gap and redesigned communications processes to make a huge impact on people’s lives. Creating these types of solutions provides a terrific opportunity for partners to develop deeper relationships with their existing customers and expand their customer base.
Product Manager, Office Communications Group
This month we're highlighting a video case study about AT Kearney who implemented a unified communications solution using Microsoft Communications Server “14” and other Microsoft technologies to improve the communication and collaboration among their employees while achieving significant cost savings. The flexibility of the solution also had a positive impact on the work-life balance for their mobile consultants.
AT Kearney is a leading management consulting firm headquartered in Chicago, IL, with more than 3400 employees in about 50 locations around the world. In looking for a unified communications solution that would integrate with their existing PBX environment, AT Kearney looked at a Cisco solution first. However, they found that the integration of Communications Server “14” with other Microsoft solutions to be a "game changer"; implementing a unified experience with Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Office Professional provided a superior user and admin experience, and was also more cost effective.
Kevin Rice, Global Network Architect | AT Kearney
With Communications Server “14” AT Kearney is able to leave their PBX in place and enhance it to give users a full unified communications experience in parallel to their phones. CS”14” connects to their existing PBX and uses Microsoft Communicator in addition to their existing PBX phone. The system can be configured so that Communicator rings whenever the PBX phone rings. This allows their mobile consultants to receive calls on the road or in their home office, and it gives them the option to use Communicator as a primary endpoint even in the office.
AT Kearney CTO John Laughhunn says, “The ability to tie OCS into our PBX environment is very key, it helps give access from anywhere on earth that you have an internet connection plus it helps drive down our costs. We can intelligently route that traffic to a local PBX when it’s possible. We can also provide online conferencing at virtually no cost, which is a huge component of our capabilities inside”.
Laughhunn also appreciates the new features in CS”14” such as skills based search, location awareness and E911, stating, “There’s great value in integration, and the capability to have access to multiple resources from one application. OCS does a very good job of that. Wave 14 is extending that and going more in to the capabilities and skills database area, location awareness, and extending the presence awareness capabilities.”
By choosing the Microsoft solution, AT Kearney avoided the additional cost of hardware and licensing that was required by the Cisco solution. Laughhunn calculates initial savings with the Microsoft solution to be a fraction of the cost, stating, “We saved about a half a million dollars in licensing and hardware savings and infrastructure capabilities just by deploying OCS.” Further, AT Kearney's Director of Global Operations, Michael Robbins says, "For every 10 percent of usage that we can move off of mobile telephones and onto OCS, we’ll save about half a million to a million dollars annually.”
“Because it was integrated and because it was a unified client, there wasn’t all these modular adding on of applications. So for example, with the Cisco solution you get a soft phone and if you wanted video you had to buy more software and licenses to add video to it. With the OCS client we have one piece of software that we loaded and updated and we manage it much more straightforward than we could with any other competitive model.”
John Laughhunn, Chief Technology Officer | AT Kearney
I particularly like the AT Kearney video because it shows how an enterprise company with a mostly mobile workforce, was able to take advantage of the new CS”14” Voice capabilities. They left their PBX in place and enhanced it to give their users a full unified communications experience parallel to their existing phone. Folks, you don’t need to throw away your existing PBX investment to deploy CS”14” Voice. Just enhance it!
Product Manager, Office Communications Group
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
Authors: Curtis Hartmann
Mobile devices. Mobile storage. Mobile connectivity. Our culture today is consumed with the idea of mobility – and for good reasons. Relying upon the freedom of mobile communications has powered the productivity behind our daily lives and our businesses. In such a mobile world, we might be surprised to find how much fur...
Authors: Avaya Insights
Once again, I am pleased to recommend this posting from Dan DeBacker as guest blogger on the subject of wireless networks and mobility.
The evolution of wireless technology continues to drive change within enterprise networks. At its inception,...