Lync Server 2010 Deployment Plans Cited in Study
An industry-sponsored study, announced on Wednesday, gauged interest in Lync Server 2010, Microsoft's newest unified communications (UC) solution.
Seattle-based Azaleos Corp., a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, commissioned Osterman Research Inc. for the study, which collected survey data from 121 North American organizations in September. Lync is Microsoft's third-generation UC solution, succeeding Office Communications Server 2007 R2. Microsoft expects to release the Lync product before the end of this year.
According to Osterman's white paper, "Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and the Unified Communications Market," 30 percent of survey respondents expect to deploy Lync Server 2010 in the first year after its release.
The survey also found that 23 percent of those organizations that currently have UC systems in place will "probably or definitely consider deploying Lync."
The current economic recession has affected UC deployment plans, with 58 percent of respondents who had evaluated OCS 2007 saying that economic factors would inhibit the adoption of the platform. Other inhibitors included the upfront costs (48 percent), ongoing costs (45 percent), justifying the business case (42 percent) and "lack of management buy-in" (40 percent).
Lync will support the virtualization of server roles, which can potentially reduce hardware costs. Organizations can deploy one physical server with Lync compared with four servers needed for OCS 2007, according to Azaleos. Server role virtualization was considered to be a compelling feature for 57 percent in the survey. The other compelling factor was Lync's ability to provide a single client for all UC functions, cited by 51 percent as a "major advancement."
Lync allows users to live in the client app of their choice, according to Scott Gode, Azaleos' vice president of product management and marketing. For example, if you have a contact stored in Outlook, you can choose to initiate a voice call, IM session or e-mail via that client app. That's a step up compared with OCS 2007.
Microsoft improved other matters for IT pros on the back end with Lync, such as with certificate management. Other improvements include E911 support and a "survivable business appliance" feature that redirects traffic if a branch office or subsidiary goes down, according to Gode.
Azaleos offers premises-based installations as well as private and public cloud deployments via the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) OCS offering. Microsoft also offers hosted OCS services through BPOS and could compete with its partners, but Gode wasn't too worried. The survey results showed that 80 percent of respondents preferred the premises-installed model. Microsoft's partners also will have a running start on delivering Lync.
"They [Microsoft] won't be ready to provide the BPOS public cloud version of Lync until sometime well in 2011," Gode said. He added that the current hosted OCS service from Microsoft's BPOS currently represents "a limited set" of functionality.
UC Takes Good Planning
The ideal UC system connects users with voice-over-IP, e-mail, instant messaging, presence and videoconferencing via a single solution. Many organizations still rely on PBX telephony systems plus a patchwork of disconnected social networking apps. That situation may be changing, according to Henry Dewing, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
"At Forrester, we believe that some 90 percent of information workers at North American enterprises will use unified communications of some sort by 2015," Dewing stated via e-mail. "Basic UC capabilities to select the communications path and understand basic status of others before communicating will become natural and normal."
Potential buyers of UC systems have some hang-ups, he added.
"Buyers want interoperability and are afraid they cannot get it today," Dewing explained. "They want intervendor, intercompany, and fixed-mobile deployments of communications-enabled business processes -- and they want them to work now and in the future. The rapid pace of technological change and the shifting standards supported by various vendors prevent many buyers from being willing to commit to particular solutions."
Dewing stressed the need for organizations to have proper planning in place before implementing any UC solution.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.