Lync voice is ready for prime time, but that's only half the story

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Voice is much more difficult to support than data & networks...Don’t be fooled. Microsoft has pulled back voice support from their existing Premier contract agreements for this very reason.

So you’re likely evaluating unified communications solutions from all the usual suspects. For those that have been around in the industry for some time you know who they are. The only difference is today we see Microsoft technology high up in the list for enterprise voice. It’s true; believe it or not, Microsoft Lync has reached a level of maturity around voice which makes it a real PBX replacement possibility.

Not for everyone, of course, but in many circumstances Lync is looking quite appealing: you can consolidate your license costs, leverage a user friendly interface that people are familiar with, and integrate the solution into existing applications. OK, so it’s still catching up in some areas, but with major mobility enhancements on the horizon, and reduced CAPEX, and, well this is Microsoft, so we expect something exciting... sounds great? Well, it certainly is a credible alternative.

good service management: the critical link in Lync

Adding Microsoft Lync enterprise voice to the list of IT infrastructure and applications to support may sound simple, but it’s a much more a difficult task than it appears. Understanding the technicalities, features and benefits Lync brings to users is a topic we could discuss for a while. But what about supporting it? Often the service management aspect is put aside as a secondary discussion. In reality this can be one of the most important points to consider and the one that could cause the most pain to a business if not handled correctly.

Microsoft can’t do this by themselves, they are not an expert in this area and, as part of the process, they are choosing a few select companies do it for them. The Lync for Premier Support Partners programme is there to make sure partners get it right. Only Microsoft partners that have passed a rigorous training and assessment program evaluated at both the organizational and individual level, in order to become certified can support voice.

In a few words, here’s what you need to know:

  • network delays: While data can suffer delays without harming end-user experience, by nature, voice is real-time and very sensitive to delay and jitter on the network. Real-Time Voice is here to prioritize voice over all other traffic.
  • bandwidth management: Real-time voice will guarantee the available bandwidth so no packets will be lost or delayed.
  • these same rules also apply to video.

It’s important to manage both network delays and bandwidth correctly, otherwise the user experience will be miserable and the solution will be dismissed as unacceptable.

In part two of this post, I provide some recommendations if you’re considering deployment of a Lync voice solution.

Ann

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Ann Strachan

Ann Strachan is a Senior Product Manager at Orange Business Services, where she is responsible for Unified Communication and Collaboration solutions in the international domain.

Ann has over 19 years of international business and marketing communications experience in the IT industry. She is passionate about the power of collaboration and product and service innovation covering business, technology and user experience for the digital enterprise.