Authors: Nadee Gunasena
We are approaching a new frontier for video. Video communications technologies like Cisco TelePresence eliminate distance, making it easier for individual and teams to meet and collaborate regardless of physical location.
But how do we...
Authors: Lync Team
This blog is post #7 in the Ten Days of Office series to celebrate the one-year anniversary since the release of Office 2010 and provide you with tips and tricks to get the most from your Office experience. Tune in each week day for new tips and tricks!
June 9, 2011,
Yancey Smith, Director of Product Management, Lync
On the advent...
Authors: Julia White
Almost everyone knows the Toshiba brand, but you might not know that they recently switched from Lotus Notes to Exchange and SharePoint. Toshiba has 130,000 employees worldwide and is a global leader in electronics manufacturing. Their story is very typical of large, global companies that have switched from...
Authors: Julia White
A year ago, Microsoft and HP undertook a challenge to provide our customers with solutions to deliver faster business results. Our approach would be to create new appliances for key IT workloads, including virtualization and management, business intelligence, and email. We called this partnership...
Authors: Dean Howarth
This week I'd like to talk about LA Fitness and its Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 (now called Lync Server 2010 with the latest release) solution. As LA Fitness has continued to open sports clubs all over the US and Canada, it ended up with many different communications solutions that didn't always work well...
Authors: Julia White
The other day I was riding a shuttle bus between buildings on the Microsoft campus in Redmond and I took a few minutes to check my Outlook Mobile Inbox on my smartphone. There wasn’t anything urgent I had to respond to immediately, but I did notice that one of my meetings later in the day had a location
Authors: Julia White
Severstal is one of Russia’s largest steel and mining companies. With 92,000 employees in 10 countries, Severstal had been on Lotus Notes since 2003. But as the company grew rapidly, Severstal was finding that it was difficult to integrate Notes with
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
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.
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