I think we all agree that having a CEO that not only encourages the use of social media within the corporation but also leads by example goes a long way when it comes to company-wide social media adoption. While without a doubt a company’s top man or woman will be followed and fanned by many, the impact of getting the rest of the u...
Authors: Mike Gotta
In 2006, Andrew McAfee’s article on Enterprise 2.0, along with subsequent works, helped organizations think about how people use social software to more effectively share information and connect with one another. With an initial focus on tools (e.g., blogs, wikis), organizations undertaking “E2.0” initiatives began a long journ...
Authors: Tom Puorro
Walking the floor of Enterprise Connect (formerly VoiceCon) today, one is immediately struck by the variety of tablets hitting the marketplace. IT managers have a plethora of devices to choose from and it’s clear the tablet can become more than just another endpoint – it can become a tool for dramatically improving mobile prod...
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: 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: Julia White
The new year is starting off with a bang – a great new set of Notes customers decided to Exchange and SharePoint. At this rate, 2011 could be one of our biggest Notes “switcher” years, yet. With IBM’s annual Lotusphere conference starting next week, it means that Notes customers...
Authors: Dean Howarth
Today, we announced Office 365, our next generation cloud productivity service. Office 365 brings Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online together with Office desktop software as a cloud service. The technology will provide the latest, most complete, up-to-date service you can buy. It's everything you...
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
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