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Microsoft rolls out OCS replacement

Lync, which is set to replace Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS) integrates instant messaging, presence, audio, video, webconferencing and voice with one interface. Simon Farr, head of marketing for collaboration and UC at BT Global Services said that the platform was being positioned as a viable alternative to PBX but he warned there was a lot to get right. “Voice and video have to be a reasonable quality to deliver the right user experience,” he said.

One of the main differences between Lync and the OCS is a new management server. The Central Management Server removes settings for Live Communications Server and Office Communications Server from Active Directory so customers don't have to dive in to fiddle wuith Active Directory settings. The company has also introduced a range of other administration tools including a new control panel. The changes have “taken the OCS platform on to the next level,” said Farr.

According to research commissioned by Microsoft, a ROI analysis of a Lync deployment suggests a payback period of 12 months. However, Farr said that companies will be circumspect about deployment. “We're working with customers on how they can integrate Lync inside enterprises companies have made their investments and don't want to be ripping and replacing systems. Organisations are looking for a sound business case to justify moves to unified comms,” said Farr.

Microsoft is bullish about the possibilities. “Lync delivers on our vision to unify all of the modes of modern business communication, giving people a more collaborative, 'in person' experience with features like HD video, conference recording, and social features like status updates and activity feeds,” said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Lync & speech group. “In addition to transforming how people communicate, IT departments are also looking to Lync to evolve their infrastructure and enhance or eliminate their traditional PBX systems, saving money and saving time.”

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