Microsoft's telephony credentials stir up a hornet's nest

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Analyst Gartner has stirred up a hornets nest by putting Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS) in its recent Corporate Telephony Magic Quadrant, where it joins telephony market stalwarts such as Avaya and Cisco. This is the first time Microsoft has appeared in this particular MQ, and positions the OCS as a complete telephony solution instead of just a unified communications platform.

However, the analyst notes that most companies will view OCS as an extension to their PBX rather than a replacement. It says that without additional PBX functionality OCS is out of the running as an all-out replacement of the enterprise PBX until 2010 at the earliest. Despite these provisos, the decision to 'upgrade'  Microsoft was not popular with some the telephony digerati. Much spleen was vented against Gartner on telephony site NoJitter in the wake of its story about the Magic Quadrant, although most of it appears to have since been removed.

But the question remains: is Microsoft's Office Communication Server a standalone telephony platform? Virtually all of Microsoft's enterprise telephony OCS case studies, show it being deployed in tandem with a PBX platform. However, this isn't because OCS isn't a telephony platform as Current Analysis' Brian Riggs points out, it's because enterprises need more telephony functionality. OCS offers basic call control: users can make, take, hold and forward calls; it has basic IVR functionality and can be connected to the PSTN through third-party gateways. But to become a fully-fledged corporate telephony and unified communications platform, Microsoft will have to extend OCS's PBX functionality - and surely few would bet against it doing just that.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.