How to effectively leverage your communications when deploying Microsoft Lync

Microsoft entered the unified communications market back in 2005 with Live Communications Server – a platform that many IT professionals looked at with interest but, at the time, stuck with dedicated and ‘tried and trusted’ telephony platforms from industry leading vendors. Indeed LCS 2005 lacked the majority of functions that users enjoyed in these industry leading platforms and therefore it was not widely adopted, but formed a ‘marker in the sand’ for the kind of desktop application users were demanding, giving unified presence and instant messaging.

Microsoft then continued with Office Communications Server 2007, and then R2, then in 2010 launched Lync, finally releasing a platform that incorporated a completely resilient package, and delivering enterprise unified communications functionality to all of its users. Lync 2013 built on this and added better, higher resolution and open standard voice and video, as well as support for federation with Skype, amongst others. Throughout this journey, however, enterprises have always had a series of quite difficult decisions to make – in considering Lync deployment, do they leverage any existing communications platforms in place, or migrate to a full Microsoft estate and move away from the ‘legacy’ in favour of a virtualised, software driven platform?

Many organisations are considering a mix of the two, which – in our experience – means some level of integration between a hardware/ gateway based telephony platform such as those from Avaya, Mitel or Cisco, and the software delivery mechanisms that Microsoft provide. There are multiple ways of achieving this – the PBX vendors offer API integration to the client, which unifies the experience, but can complicate matters by disabling Microsoft’s own functionality in lieu of the expectation that the customer will enable this functionality in their PBX solution. Examples like multi party video conferencing and desktop collaboration can become complex with this model.

Furthermore, Microsoft are moving towards platform that integrates the client and experience benefits of Skype, with the infrastructure and resiliency benefits of Lync. Skype for Business, as it will be called, is due to launch in the first half of 2015 and will start to unify these two platforms, allowing enterprises to communicate in new ways, both inside and outside an organisation.

Ultimately RedVeu can deliver, based on a combination of an organisations business requirements and goals, as well as taking into account Microsoft licensing agreements and investment in existing PBX licensing and endpoints. The end result of these considerations is usually a consultancy and engineering exercise around Lync deployment, and resilient gateway connectivity using SIP to the existing, on premise, PBX deployment. Organisations can then gradually move away from the PBX if required, or keep it in place. The key is the unification of the user experience such that each individual is accessed through a single number, delivered to multiple devices if required (deskphone, Lync, Lync mobile, home phone, or other device) without the knowledge of the person calling the individual.

Lync deployment can be very complex and correct design and support of deployments is critical, along with knowledge of the underlying infrastructure and suitability to support Lync. RedVeu can provide this consultative approach and deliver a fully integrated software and hardware design that is specific to the business and user requirements presented.