Microsoft Lync 2010: Unified communications comes of age
Microsoft's seamlessly integrated IM, VoIP, and videoconferencing put users in touch and in control
The Lync client monitors and dynamically optimizes the user experience in the background, using a set of end-to-end tests similar to the traditional MOS (Mean Opinion Score) or R-value tools. It's a much nicer approach than using the expensive VoIP probes provided by some of the VoIP PBX vendors, but still allows for both active call monitoring and unattended off-hours testing with configurable synthetic traffic.
I've been using traditional H.320/H.323 videoconferencing for a good long time, and I'm continuously frustrated by the number of hoops I need to jump through to get it working behind firewalls. After all, it was designed for direct calls using ISDN (broadband dial-up), then subject to tinkering before it would work on the Internet.
Considering how fast Skype is eating the traditional videoconferencing business, it made sense to throw away the H.320/H.323 rulebook and design something specifically for the high-jitter and variable-bandwidth world of the public Internet. Microsoft has clearly done its homework here. Although the video of Drago Totev paused once in a while, it never exploded into the mosaic of colored blocks I've learned to live with on traditional videoconferencing systems.
Lync 2010 is a product that has been a long time coming, and it finally fulfills a promise I've been tracking for nearly a decade. Lync gives me more control over voice communications than my PBX, and it handles video better than my break-the-bank videoconferencing system. It pays attention to privacy, provides ways to separate my private life from work, and reduces the requirement to work from a real office. For companies that no longer provision offices on a one-to-one basis, but make use of "hot desks," Lync is a natural fit.
Don't even think about shopping for a new enterprise phone system without adding Lync to the list of candidates. Take a good hard look, and encourage your organization to download the trial and take it for a ride. This is the first UC system I've worked with that feels like UC should.
|Lync Server: Windows Server 2008; Lync Client: Windows, Mac OS X; Lync Web App: Silverlight-capable browsers on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux|
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