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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
Microsoft recently released a licensing brief (Base and Additive Client Access Licenses: An Explanation) which details future licensing changes upcoming in the next release of OCS (OCS Wave 14).
Here is a summary of the key changes:
1) A new OCS Voice CAL:
- Will include the OCS Wave 14 voice capabilities plus some of the voice functionality in today’s OCS 2007 R2 Enterprise CAL (ECAL).
- Will be additive on top of the OCS Wave 14 Standard CAL.
- Can be licensed with or without the OCS Wave 14 Enterprise CAL.
- Will not be included in the Enterprise CAL when Wave 14 launches.
- Will include new voice capabilities that will enable “Enterprise Ready Voice” for future releases of OCS (beyond Wave 14).
2) The OCS Wave 14 Enterprise CAL price will decrease to reflect the move of the voice functionality to the new OCS Voice CAL.
3) Will my current OCS Enterprise CAL give me access to the new OCS Voice CAL?
- If you purchased your existing OCS Enterprise CAL after July 1, 2009 and before the release of OCS Wave 14, and your Software Assurance was maintained, you will have the equivalent access rights to the new OCS Voice CAL. You will then need to renew to OCS Voice CAL separately at your first renewal after the OCS Wave 14 launch.
- If you purchased your existing OCS Enterprise CAL before July 1, 2009 or did not buy or maintain Software Assurance, you will need to separately purchase the new OCS Voice CAL.
More information about OCS Wave 14 can be found here: Microsoft Announces Microsoft Communications Server “14”.
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