"If you've already got Lync for instant messaging and Web conferencing, you add one more service to it and you have voice. It is basically free in the sense that you've already set up 90% of the stuff," explains Rand Morimoto, Microsoft MVP, president of San Francisco-based consultant company Convergent Computing and a Lync user. "If you already own the Web conferencing piece, you already own the enterprise license for Lync to do voice." (Morimoto also pens the Secrets of Windows Back Office Servers blog for Network World's Microsoft Subnet.)
Yet Schurman contends that Lync is neither low-cost nor easy to implement at enterprise scale, and he makes some valid points, according to information sent to Network World by Microsoft.
Lync's lack of support for mobile clients, and for platforms outside of Windows, is an issue for the enterprise, says Morimoto, though he doesn't expect the issue to last. While Lync's softphone can be implemented on Windows XP and higher, it can't yet run on Windows Phone 7. Morimoto's company uses Lync as its PBX to support Convergent Computing's 100 employees, 70% of whom are road warriors.
BACKGROUND: Lync: What you need to know
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the long-awaited Macintosh client will be available in October. Morimoto expects a Lync client to ship for the Mango release of Windows Phone 7, too, and he's seen demonstrations of iPhone/iPad clients. Regarding Android, BlackBerry and other platforms, a Microsoft spokesperson told Network World that "Lync will be available for WP7, Android, iPhone, Nokia, RIM and Symbian, as we described at our launch last year, at Enterprise Connect last March and at WPC in July. We are on track to deliver Lync mobile support by the end of the year."
As for a large-scale Lync telephony deployment requiring access to a lot of hardware, this, too, can be true for some deployments. Microsoft says a typical small-scale deployment will use up to three servers while the company's large-scale reference architecture uses 14 servers. However, these do not need to be dedicated machines. Lync's servers can be run in virtual machines, Microsoft says, including Hyper-V, VMware and any other Microsoft-certified hypervisor. (Reference materials are available here.)