Microsoft pushes its way into crowded unified communications market

By , IDG News Service |  Unified Communications, Microsoft Lync

"For example, it would let you have customers and partners included in your enterprise collaboration teams, and in your enterprise support teams, so it would let you shift from a customer support model to a customer partnership model," Elliot says.

Microsoft is also taking steps to scale Lync up from the desktop with its Lync Room System. In partnership with vendors like Polycom and Crestron, Microsoft is aiming at bringing Lync to conference rooms and thus compete more closely with vendors that provide telepresence systems like Cisco.

Another frontier Microsoft is pursuing is the cloud. There is a version of Lync, called Lync Online, in Office 365, the public cloud suite hosted by Microsoft. Lync Online has most of the capabilities of the Lync Server, except for the IP telephony, which Microsoft has said it plans to add. However, enterprises can buy the full featured Lync Server and have it hosted in a dedicated cloud by Microsoft partners including AT&T and HP.

L.A. Fitness and Sprint Bet Big on Lync

In February, Microsoft announced that it had hit 5 million seats of enterprise voice, up from 3 million in late 2011, and that 90 of the Fortune 100 companies were Lync customers.

Among those making big bets on Lync is L.A. Fitness, the health club chain, where about 25,000 employees use Lync for every UC function -- from IM to telephony.

"Lync has been a huge hit for our company," says George Bedar, the L.A. Fitness CIO.

The company started with the product about four years ago, in the R2 version of Office Communicator, and Bedar has been happy with the way the product has been expanded and enhanced.

In the 2013 version, he highlights performance, redundancy and stability improvements on the back end, enhanced mobile clients for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and better video quality.

Bedar also likes that Lync is intertwined in various ways with Outlook/Exchange, SharePoint and Office, which are all Microsoft products that L.A. Fitness uses broadly.

Lync is also widely deployed at Sprint, where about 50,000 use it for IM, presence and online meetings, including 25,000 that also use it for IP telephony.

Lync has helped Sprint, which began using the product in 2007, to eliminate about 500 traditional PBXs it had company-wide, according to Chris Peasley, Sprint's manager of enterprise communications systems.

Sprint has also found great value in the improvements to the mobile clients, as well as in the back-end enhancements, and in the synergies between Lync and other Microsoft products like SharePoint and Outlook/Exchange, he says.

Is Lync Right for Your Environment?


Originally published on IDG News Service |  Click here to read the original story.
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