Microsoft a known player in the UC space for a while, started in the consumer area with MSN messenger, which they turned into a corporate product with LCS 2005 (Live Communications Server), which later involved into Office Communications Server 2007. OCS had a couple of benefits, one of them being voice (well-known) but video is also definitely one of the advantages.
OCS is an excellent solution that is well adopted within many corporate enterprises. It brings presence, documentsharing, voice, video, all mainly within the OCS environment. Besides the advantages, there are also some disadvantages, two of them below related to video. Besides the on-premises solution, Microsoft OCS 2007 R2 is also available as a cloud solution via Microsoft Online services, aka Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). (note currently you cannot integrate your online OCS solution with other vendors)
- RtVideo, Microsoft had developed their own proprietary codes for video
- no Call Admission Control (CAC), aka no way to control the traffic / bandwidth. This means a corporation is unable to control the amount of voice or video traffic. Which can result in bad quality for everyone involved in a (video)call.
- Polycom (direct registration) (Microsoft supported)
- Tandberg (direct registration, gateway via SIP trunking, HD transcoding) (Microsoft supported)
- Radvision Scopia (Microsoft unsupported)
Now Microsoft is up for a big release that will first stir the voice world, but on the side has some good video features as well. See below what Lync 2010 is expected to bring, based on the beta information that is publically available:
Microsoft Lync 2010 (aka MCS or OCS Wave 14 beta), first HD video with federated users.
Several benefits of the Microsoft Lync 2010 (for more details follow the link):
- Location Awareness Capabilities:
- Native E911 Support
- Tighter integration with SharePoint, Exchange, and Office.
- SharePoint Integration
- Voicemail Features:
- Call Admission Control:
- The ability to use bandwidth information and policies to know if a video call can be initiated.
- Branch Office Survivability:
Most changes are destined to change the voice world. Microsoft definitely wants to be a player in that field and replace the PBX, and is expected to support ITU voice standards. The RtVideo codecs seems to be unchanged however. Video being then still based on a proprietary solution. This still means the following for future videoconferencing architectures. There are a couple a ways of integrating between Microsoft and Standards based Video:
- Direct Registration (connect your endpoint directly to OCS/MCS)
- Gateway solution (use SIP interconnecting to setup a call, both fall back to common denominator H.263 - SD calls)
- Transcoding Solution, RtVideo is translated in public HD (H.264 standards) (all traffic will be drawn to the transcoding solution)
So in short it is great that with Lync 2010 you can use video to call to a Microsoft Federated other company. But this has some disadvantages for quickly setting a call, like you want to do with your telephone (just a dial a number):
- administrators have to setup a federation between two companies first (you will only do this with companies you officially trust, expect this to be few, and takes time to setup)
- you only only dial another Microsoft user
- you video equipment is connected to a Microsoft "Call Manager / SIP registrar" , so feature dependent on Microsoft
- if you want to reach the "standards based" world via an H.323 address or SIP URI, a company has to deploy a gateway solution
So in short if you want your Microsoft OCS/MCS client to dial a standards based endpoint like Tandberg, Polycom etc. that is connected to the internet, you will have to traverse a gateway solution that translates the Microsoft proprietary protocols to open standards. Is that easy? Guess not.
Above gave you most likely some for thought, and most likely you will ask what should I do?
"I am deploying OCS (or waiting for Lync) and am looking into video as well." One thing I can definitly recommend:
Think about the architecture you want to build upfront and how it will integrated. Good Luck or get some knowledgeable help, so you don't start off on the wrong foot.
Note: Microsoft has just introduced the new name Lync today, most information was based on the expected Wave14 / MCS2010 that was publically available. For more information on the product look at the Microsoft Lync 2010 Product Page.
After a Masters in Business Economics and Information Management on the University of Rotterdam , Jako decided that he preferred IT over sheer numbers, economics and finance. His 10-year career has taken him through several Telecoms and Integration companies. On a daily basis Jako is in contact with multinational global customers mainly in the Netherlands and known for their easy adoption of new technologies. He continues to write about a range of IT and communications topics such as Networks, Security, Cloud Computing, Voice, Video/Telepresence and Unfied Communications. (twitter @djeekcom)