More and more BVA is getting requests for solutions wrapped around instant messaging and web collaboration. It’s amazing how popular it has become and have a feeling it is due to the large push in the consumer area with Skype, MSN, Yahoo, and other interfaces. It seems like the need for communication with other employees and friends on the fly is starting to become not a benefit but a need. Especially with the push of IM on mobile devises has really has changed they way people communicate. Microsoft Lync 2010 is a re-branding of the company’s Office Communications software suite. This old but new offering focuses on business users for enterprise VOIP (voice over IP), instant messaging, video and audio conferencing, and application and desktop sharing. Lync will operate in conjunction with other software platforms such as Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Exchange. Forrester estimates that the overall unified communications market will be worth $14.5 billion by 2015. I had the pleasure of seeing Lync in action, which on the fly allowed groups of users to interface via voice or video, all while collaborating on a PowerPoint document. Because Lync integrates multiple services such as instant messaging, video and voice into a single client experience, experienced users can simultaneously juggle multiple tasks and calling partners. Microsoft formally launched Lync 2010 in November and has been in Beta with some large clients over the last 10 months. Microsoft’s Lync Website offers a free trial of the software, which will be available December 1. Mobile clients for the Apple iPhone, Nokia phones and Windows Phone 7 are expected within the year. Lync’s other features include the ability to select multiple people from a contact list to make a group call; test a network connection before initiating a video call; and flipping through instant messenger, video, and document-collaborating within the same client experience. Integration with services such as Exchange means that Lync will auto-update its users’ statuses, for instance if they’re in a meeting or otherwise away from their desk. Lync also interfaces with Windows Live Messenger and even Kinect, with users able to activate a video conference through gestures.
Microsoft Lync Website
Retail Pricing Construct
|Server license offerings
|Lync Server 2010 Standard Edition
|Lync Server 2010 Enterprise Edition
|Lync Server 2010 Standard CAL
|Lync Server 2010 Enterprise CAL
|Lync Server 2010 Plus CAL
BVA has reviewed and looked at the new Microsoft Lync. The new name for the next generation of our real-time communications products, known until today as Communications Server and Communicator. Over the last five years Microsoft has been on a journey to transform communications with the power of software. Lync delivers on this vision by unifying enterprise voice, instant messaging and web, audio and video conferencing into a new, connected communications experience. A key part of the release is the re-branding to Microsoft Lync. 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. This could seriously be an alternative to an on-site VOIP phone system via reliability, feature set, integration with Microsoft technologies, as well as cost.
The feedback on Lync 2010 has been pretty good from initial testers. Here is a sample of the types of comments that Microsoft got from the TAP programs and internal beta:
- “Just love, love, love the new UI.”
- “An incredibly comprehensive set of tools, including integration into workflow with SharePoint”
- “Everything I’ve tried to do, I’ve been successful so far.”
- “[OCS 14] looks more user-friendly and visually it’s like, ‘wow’. It looks better and aesthetics are a lot better, especially when you are using an application nine hours a day.”
- “The overall user experience is more engaging, convenient, and social-oriented, when compared to 2007 or 2007 R2. Thank you! :-)”
I’ve been using Lync – and as my only ‘phone’ – for the past month and the experience has been pretty solid. A few of my favorite features:
1. Switch between your head-set and phone in the middle of a call with device switching.
2. Gotta run? Leave the office and take your call with you on your mobile phone.
3. Select multiple people and click to make a group call, and then drag-and-drop someone into the conference from Outlook.
4. Connect with family while you’re travelling – start a high-definition voice and video conversation with a Windows Live Messenger user.
5. Hush that annoying meeting participant. When someone is causing bad audio on the conference call, Lync will identify which phone to mute to improve quality – and productivity.
Something to consider moving forward when looking at different communication methods. Is VOIP the way to go?
BVA is reviewing many different options when it comes to Cloud Offerings for phone systems. There are many out there that promise a lot of things and in our experiences we feel that they over-promise feature sets. There are some local vendors here in the valley that have some offerings such as Saddleback and Telesphere. We have heard good and bad things about these services here locally, therefore collectively we thought we would look elsewhere for a viable vendor to provide said services. We have one service we are reviewing (http://www.ringcentral.com) called Ring Central and it sounds like a good solution to review and try out.
An organization can get a complete cloud-based VoIP business phone system that eliminates expensive on-premise equipment, includes ready-to-use phones, and provides enterprise-class functionality with RingCentral Office. No setup fees, no contracts required, and instant activation is what I like about it looking at it from 10,000 feet. You can use RingCentral Office as your business phone system and:
- Set up your phone system to work the way you do.
- Get the business phone system, voice and fax features you need.
- Integrate office, mobile, and distributed employees under one phone system.
- Manage calls, voicemail, and faxes from your mobile phone.
- Eliminate setup costs and complex installation.
- Significantly reduce ongoing operating costs.
- Add users and phones any time on the fly.