Also important to customers, Van Doren says, is Microsoft's lengthy partner list that will attract businesses that don't like being locked into buying all their hardware from their UC&C vendor. During the Lync launch, Microsoft announced 70 devices optimized for Lync and certified by Microsoft as meeting its standards. Among Lync's certified gear are Juniper routers and switches, but also PCs from HP, Dell and Lenovo, Logitech HD Webcams, Dialogic survivable branch appliances, new cameras, IP phones and display devices introduced by Polycom and on and on. There's even a Lync cloud service from Verizon.
More important than an pack of Lync products is interoperability between Lync and other UC&C vendors' software platforms, says Don Jaycox, CIO of DLA Piper U.S., a law firm with 70 offices in 29 countries.
In the United States, DLA Piper has pretty much standardized on Cisco communications gear, but its European offices rely more on OCS/Lync, he says. So if he wants to place a video call with someone in a U.S. office he fires up Cisco Unified Personal Communicator (CUPC), but if the person is in the United Kingdom, he'll use Office Communicator (now Lync 2010 client).
"Both of them work," Jaycox says. "But today I need to choose between those two clients. What I really want is way to make all these things play together nicely."
So hem would like an attorney in the United States using Cisco to be able to instant message an attorney in the United Kingdom using Lync, convert that to a video call and then add a whiteboard session and have the two platforms interoperate. It's not just for convenience within the firm; it's for dealing with the firm's legal clients.
Conferencing in clients now is virtually impossible because the clients could be using anyone's UC&C platform. "You can't control all these elements," he says. "I want them to federate across all [vendors'] platforms." But Lync and the other vendors' UC&C platforms aren't there yet.
Much of Lync's success may depend on how individual customers look at phasing in UC&C, says Osterman Research in its white paper "Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and the Unified Communications Market." The infrastructure customers already have and the new capabilities they need immediately will have an influence.
"For example, should an organization use its existing PBX as the starting point and then add capabilities like video conferencing, e-mail, mobility and presence into that infrastructure? Should it begin with its e-mail system and then slowly add IM/presence, audio conferencing and then finally enterprise voice into the mix? Should it choose a middle route and preserve its e-mail and PBX infrastructures as they are now and simply "glue" them together to provide unified communications capabilities?" Osterman asks.