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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Microsoft Wants To LYNC You!

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September 10, 2010

What’s In A Name? Microsoft’s Lync Wants The End Users In Business UC

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

I was fortunate to participate in a discussion with my UC Strategies team and Microsoft about the big announcement of the next version of Office Communication Server. What was of most significance, is that Microsoft has renamed their software product (again), but, this time to one that will appeal to the individual end users, rather than to just IT management.

While UC technology infrastructure may be understandable and important to IT, the functionality of UC concepts is not so well understood by the people who should benefit most directly from using UC-based applications, the individual end users. As a result, the term “UC” means little to those potential end users, and, the integrations for UC, even less useful.

In a move to help remedy the problem of relating UC technology concepts to practical individual end user perspectives, Microsoft announced a name change for it’s latest version of its desktop Office Communications Server (OCS), which is a software platform for several real-time communication functions, including:

· Presence management (availability status information)

· Instant (text) messaging

· Conferencing

· Voice telephony

The new name, Lync, suggests not only a common process for accessing those real-time communication functions, it also implies interoperability with other forms of communication that are not “real-time.” So, as a user-oriented “gateway” to legacy telephony services, the name, “Lync,” suggests more than simple integration with traditional telephony contacts, but other multi-modal options for UC.

Microsoft Wants To “Lync” you!

To reinforce that user perspective, Microsoft suggests that “lync” can be used as a verb to better encompass what the end user can do with that particular application software tool, i.e., establish a real-time connection, in a user’s choice of ways, with a person or group of persons, if available. This flexibility will be particularly useful as users start exploiting mobile, multi-modal devices (smart-phones, iPads) and desktop “softphones.”

At this time, the Lync functionality defined for UC seems to be focused primarily on person-to-person contacts, where federated presence will be a consideration in initiating a real-time contact. However, as I have frequently stated, UC is more than that person-to-person communications, and contacts between people and automated application processes and vice versa are also part of the business communication challenge that requires the flexibility of multi-modal UC.

So, we should expect to soon see how Lync will be inter-operating with automated applications that need to initiate multi-modal “notifications” to specific individual users (CEBP), as well as how those recipients can respond to such automated, contacts. This will be of particular importance in customer-care applications that will exploit automated, time-critical, pro-active contacts for cost-efficient performance.

For now, we see Lync as a logical step forward, from an end use’s perspective, towards convenient communication flexibility and the “user’s choice” in both initiating a person-to-person contact, as well as responding to any contact from another person.

What Do You Think?
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