Presence awareness is a big topic with IM-oriented products. Being able to locate a colleague and see her availability status is an important part of collaboration. To support that, the new features in Communications Server include a new skill search where you can find colleagues based on a certain level of expertise. There is also a new location-awareness feature where a user's whereabouts can be automatically detected from the subnet to which the user is connected or from the nearest wireless access point. (Users can establish customized locations and control the publishing of this information, so there is a modicum of privacy.)
[ Also on InfoWorld: Read J. Peter Bruzzese's "Deploying unified messaging without going insane" and "Outlook 2010: The client features you'll want to use." ]
VoiceCon also saw the announcement of several telephony products and services that you may want to explore if you pursue a Microsoft-based unified messaging strategy:
- Common-area, desktop, and conference room IP phones optimized for Microsoft Communicator "14" from Aastra and Polycom
- Call accounting and recording software from Nice Systems and Quest
- Contact center software from Aspect
- Survivable branch appliances that provide local telephony services in the event of a wide area network failure, from AudioCodes, Dialogic, Ferrari Electronic, Hewlett-Packard, and Net
- Enhanced 911 call-routing services from 911 Enable and Intrado
Gurdeep predicts the rise of more connected communications, saying that in three years, 75 percent of new business applications will include natively embedded communications. Obviously, decision makers and IT personnel need to keep that in mind. Three years ago, Microsoft shared its vision for the future of business communications with desire to establish a unified-communication-, software-centric solution. Given how that future is shaping up, I have no doubt that Gurdeep's prediction will come true.
What do you think? Are you ready to donate your PBX to a local museum? Or do you believe that too much connectivity will hurt, rather than enhance, collaboration within your environment?
This article, "Maybe it's time to throw out your PBX," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com.