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Microsoft on Lync 2010 release
17 March 2011
With the release of Lync 2010 in November, Microsoft confirmed its commitment to transforming the future of communications. Karen McCandless finds out more
It’s been a long journey for Microsoft, but after seven years it looks like all the hard work has finally paid off. The company officially unveiled its next-generation unified communications offering, Lync 2010, in November. Formerly known as Office Communications Server (OCS), the new product has been hailed by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates as the most important thing to happen to the office worker since the PC. OCS has been a massive success for Microsoft, experiencing double-digit growth since its introduction three years ago, and the company hopes to continue that momentum with its latest offering.
Lync 2010, which brings together instant messaging, presence, audio, video, Web conferencing and voice all in a single interface, promises to deliver the best productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser. The single, consistent management infrastructure is easy to deploy and manage, and works well with existing tools and servers. All in all, the enhanced enterprise voice and conferencing capabilities, increased security and platform extensibility make Lync a stand-out product.
In keeping with the Microsoft’s strategy of “we’re all in” when it comes to cloud computing, Lync Online will be available in the cloud as part of the Office 365 suite. Also, as the product’s open platform provides extensive interoperability across a wide variety of operating systems, it is expected that Lync-based solutions will develop across a wide spectrum of devices in 2011 and beyond, underlying the pervasive nature of Microsoft’s unified communications strategy.
“The importance of unified communications is far stronger today than it was when we started down this path,” says Gates. “If you look at the high-definition screens, the cameras, the pervasiveness of mobile phones, the desire of the employee to use that mobile phone and then be able to transfer calls and data back and forth to their PC, the desire to have a workforce that’s mobile, bring people in, collaborate with them in new ways – the need to put everything into a consistent platform is very clear now. It really is very timely that we made a big bet in this area.”
As we think about how we actually have to operate in that new world, what we use Lync to do is to really embody the experiment of the digital marketplace and the digital workplace
Estée Lauder So where does Lync fit in the Microsoft technology stack? The answer is right at the heart of the Office product family. Enhanced collaboration capabilities are delivered via seamless integration with not just Office, but also SharePoint and Exchange.
As Chris Capossela, senior vice president of the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft, says: “Lync 2010 fits like a glove with Office, SharePoint and Exchange. We’ve done a lot of work to make it far easier to deploy than any other product in this space and we’re doing a lot of work on interoperability. We’ve also done a lot of work to make sure that the product is incredibly extensible.”
But what does this mean in real terms? A recent report from Forrester Consulting found that Lync 2010 offers customers 337 per cent ROI with a total cost benefit of US$18.6 million over three years. The study revealed that it can save customers US$3.8 million in travel costs while offering over US$12 million in increased worker productivity over the same period of time, with a payback period of 12 months.
Given these potential cost savings, and the collaborative and open nature of Lync, it is unsurprising that some leading retailers are already reaping the benefits of the platform. “As we think about how we actually have to operate in that new world, what we use Lync to do is to really embody the experiment of the digital marketplace and the digital workplace,” says Earl Newsome, VP global IT services at Estée Lauder. “We tried to deliver on the principle that work is something that you do and not a place that you go. That principle really allows us to create that collaborative work environment where location is less determinant of the work that you actually do. So across 150 countries with over 30,000 employees, we’re able to unleash the creativity and the innovation of our company.”
Microsoft partners have been key to enabling the successful release of Lync 2010 with companies including British Telecom, Dell, AudioCodes and Verizon Business offering services or hardware to help customers evaluate, deploy and manage their Lync infrastructure. “Adopting new technologies can pose a challenge for even the most nimble organisations,” says Anthony Recine, vice president of networking and communications solutions for Verizon Business. “We’re building on our long-standing strategic relationship with Microsoft, a proven record providing managed and professional services, and our leadership delivering advanced communications solutions to help integrate and accelerate successful customer unified communications and collaboration adoption.”
The enthusiasm of both partners and customers is unsurprising given the strides Microsoft is making in the world of unified communications, just as Bill Gates had envisioned. “Five years ago, Bill Gates predicted software would change the way people communicate,” says Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president, Office Lync and Speech Group at Microsoft. “Lync delivers on that vision. It is a complete platform built on software – marking the dawn of new communications possibilities. While Microsoft is excited about this future, the most important thing is that our customers and partners are fired up about the technology. Not just about what is here today, but what’s to come tomorrow.”
This article first appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of Speak. To find out more, check out the digital edition.