Web/Tech

Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Launch

I attended the launch event of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007   in San Francisco this week and was thoroughly impressed with how far this software effort has come since I was introduced in 2005.   OCS 2007 is Microsoft's foray into unified communications (UC).

First...a first:  I have been reading about Bill Gates speeches for years.  Well, I finally got to see him speak.  He was of course visionary with his words.  A good speaker for sure.  His presence at this launch event says something of the importance of this particular new software to Microsoft.  However, I found him less engaging than I had anticipated or sought.  Kind of a downer.

My expectations were eclipsed however with the demonstrations of the OCS 2007 software.  For a real first cut...with a relative full feature list, it is quite a package....assuming that it all works in a real customer environment. 

Here are some features and benefits and claims lifted from the Microsoft UC website:
  • The computer starts to work like a phone. To call someone, you just click on his or her name. The computer places the call. It doesn’t matter if you see their name in an e-mail, inside Microsoft Office Word, or on a Windows SharePoint Services site: their contact information and the ability to reach them is always present. Presence is one of the key benefits of unified communications because it unites all the contact information stored in Active Directory with all the ways people communicate: phone, conferencing, instant messaging, e-mail, calendaring. People’s availability, their contact information, and the ability to communicate with them are integrated and always just a click away.
  • The phone starts to work lik a computer. Try this with a standard office phone: call someone, then add someone else to the call. Okay, now add ten people. Now, turn it into a live video call. Could you do it? Is it even possible? With Microsoft unified communications technologies, you click to call. Click again and you can launch a conference call. Need video? It’s a click away. It’s that easy.
  • Voice mail becomes email. Voice mail arrives in your Microsoft Office Outlook inbox, right beside your e-mail. That might not sound impressive, but have you ever tried to forward a voice mail using the touchtone keypad on a telephone? When voice mail becomes e-mail, you can forward it just like any e-mail: to one person, a work team, or an entire department.
  • On the back end, things are even better. Change like this usually means a lot of new hardware, extra work for IT, and a vastly more complex infrastructure. But not with Microsoft unified communications technologies.
  • VoIP as You Are. You don’t need a forklift to install Microsoft unified communications technologies because Microsoft uses software instead of hardware. Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007--the server that delivers presence, instant messaging, and audio- and videoconferencing--integrates seamlessly with your existing telecommunications infrastructure, including your current PBX.
  • Unified communications streamline infrstructure.  Microsoft unified communications technologies use Active Directory to unify the entire corporate directory--names, PBX extensions, e-mail addresses, and logons. This simplifies IT administration.
  • Phone calls become digital assets. Just like e-mail. Which means they can be logged, reviewed, published, and archived. Having a complete record and recording of every phone call is increasingly critical as businesses struggle to comply with stricter federal and international regulations.
  • Flexible and future ready. By using a software solution to deliver unified communications, your business can stay flexible and embrace innovations as they come. When emerging technologies and changing business needs require your communications infrastructure to adapt, all you have to do is upgrade your software, not your hardware.

It is my strong belief that we are a couple of years away from the small business being able to utilize this UC software as a cost-effective service, such as is done with MS Exchange.  I also think that the laarge enterprise will not fully adopt this software en mass until a solid service pack (SP) is released...which is likely a year or so out.  In the meantime, I will continue to monitor this new software's impact in the marketplace and the viablility that it can one day be provided economically as a service (SaaS) to the small business.


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Please direct any questions or feedback that you may have to me.  Happy to do a meeting with you as well to help you acclimate. 

Thanks again.  I look forward to any feedback.