The Lync price benefit
Lync Server 2010 follows the CAL (client access license) model, where a license is required for each user.
There are three license options for Lync: a Standard CAL includes instant messaging and presence and costs $31 per user; an Enterprise CAL includes everything in a Standard CAL plus audio, video and Web conferencing, and costs $107 per user; a Plus CAL includes enterprise voice telephony technologies plus everything in a standard CAL and a few features of an Enterprise CAL plus -- it also costs $107.
[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and reviews of SharePoint 2010 -- see CIO.com's SharePoint Bible. ]
To enable all features, a user must be licensed with all three CALs.
In comparison, the basic voice licenses for Cisco and Avaya are $250.
"There's a good business argument here for putting in Microsoft's voice product instead of Avaya or Cisco," says Blood.
The savings become more apparent when you compare Lync to Cisco's full voice, video and messaging suite, called Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing. The cost for the Professional edition of Cisco's suite is $500.
Lync still uses a lot of bandwidth
Despite Lync's improved bandwidth management, it still uses a lot more bandwidth than traditional solutions, says Blood, and companies will have to account for that somehow.
With a PBX system you cannot do video, so that limits the amount of bandwidth you use. Having voice telephony and video in the same product are big bandwidth hogs, notes Blood.
"The downside is that with Lync you're going to spend more money increasing WAN capacity, possibly as much $250,000 to cover voice and video," he adds. "IT needs to prepare for that."
Lync will force companies to evaluate how IT is structured
Lync will also require companies to take a closer look at how their networks are designed and how their IT organizations are structured.
Traditionally, the part of the IT organization that implements Lync for instant messaging, SharePoint and Exchange is different from the part of IT that implements voice and video tools.
"Companies have to figure out how to get these people to work together," says Blood, "which is especially difficult at giant companies with a lot of internal politics."
Will users adjust to being interrupted more?
Blood notes that Lync makes communication easier and more flexible, yet could also lead to a workforce that is even more distracted.
"For Lync to be truly used enterprisewide, workers will have to get over the hurdle of being interrupted more," he says. "You end up doing things you weren't planning to do and you're not as productive. This has become the normal of working for many people, but it's mostly younger workers."
If you push out Lync to the whole company at once, Blood warns, you may find that not enough people will use it.
The first rollouts should be for focused groups of workers as a test to see if Lync can drive business.
"You need to see ROI first before rolling it out to everyone," Blood says.
Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at email@example.com.