Microsoft unified communications Lync system moves closer to proverbial PBX replacement option

By , Network World |  Unified Communications, Microsoft, Microsoft Lync

In a company with 90% knowledge workers and 10% information workers the situation would be different. It would make sense to install UC for everybody just to avoid multiple systems and their maintenance needs despite the fact that some of the workers would use just the phone capabilities.

In a typical mixed deployment such as the police organization, the legacy telephony system could tie into Lync. Those with just desktop phones could reach those with Lync and vice versa, but the desk phone users wouldn't require new gear nor would they have to learn new ways of doing things, he says.

Lync becomes a challenge when it is deployed to people who only use its telephony features. "Lync is not structured to be a telephony-only system," he says. "You can do it but it doesn't lend itself to being easy to use and easy to install if it's just telephony."

That's because while it may perform all the necessary functions, there may be different ways of carrying them out, which requires training.

For example, multiple line appearances where a phone can ring on an individual's desk but also at the receptionist's desk would be replaced functionally by presence, a different way of doing the same thing.

"The biggest resistance comes with going from traditional telephony to Lync," Edholm says. "This is changing somewhat and will change even more with [the bring-your-own-device trend]," he says.

Edholm says he did a comparison of Lync vs. Cisco's UC for collaboration, and he found that an important factor is what the UC system has to interface with.

If the organization considering UC has a Microsoft directory system, Microsoft business applications and Microsoft databases, as well as Microsoft personal productivity tools such as Office, it makes sense to use Lync. It was built with Office, SharePoint and Active Directory interoperability in mind, he says.

If an organization doesn't use Microsoft email, calendaring and productivity apps, then adopting UC from Avaya, Cisco, Nortel or Siemens might make more sense, especially if the existing PBX is made by one of these vendors, he says. "It's not the UC system alone, it's the kind of workers you have and the other systems you use," he says.

Lync itself seems to be moving away from controlling the traditional desktop phone in favor of a UC system that includes telephony run from a desktop PC and a server in the data center or the cloud, which has service providers showing interest in the platform.

BT, for example, is offering a new Lync-based cloud service called BT One Cloud Lync that provides Lync as a service with the infrastructure based in the BT network.

Similarly, West IP Communications offers a Lync service that supports Lync edge, mediation and federation servers in West IP data centers. The upside for customers, says Jeff Wellemeyer, executive vice president of West IP, is quality of service. If these components are located on customer premises for a widely distributed Lync deployment, it makes it more difficult to ensure quality of service to all branches.

Hosted Lync isn't for all customers, though, particularly those whose media traffic is intended to stay within the LAN, minimizing WAN QoS as an issue, he says.

Wellemeyer says that customers tend to progress in their use of Lync features, perhaps starting with just instant messaging, adding presence, conferencing, collaboration and connecting to the public phone network with some softphone use.

Moving to Lync as a PBX replacement is considered a move for "someday," he says. "We're not seeing a lot of customers tearing out their PBXs and putting in a Microsoft infrastructure."

They might use Lync supplemented by PBX technology. "They think Lync's not there yet," he says.

Read more about lans and routers in Network World's LANs & Routers section.

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Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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