For those of you running a voicemail system in addition to an Exchange 2007 or 2010 on-premises environment, perhaps you haven't heard the news. Exchange provides a voicemail system that can not only take the place of your voicemail but provide for a universal inbox that puts voicemail notifications right in your mailbox. It can also transcribe the messages using its speech-to-text engine and allows you to connect to your calendar, phone directory, and email through Outlook Voice Access.
Despite all these features, Microsoft's unified messaging is not being deployed as rapidly as you would expect. Although companies are deploying Exchange 2010 rapidly, for some reason they're not doing unified messaging at the same time.
There are several reasons you might have for avoiding unified messaging:
- You are afraid of learning all the new telephony aspects of the unified messaging role. But it is typically recommended that you use a telephony expert to handle that aspect of it, so IT is off that hook.
- The existing telephone system works just fine, so there's no desire to change it.
- You have interest in deploying unified messaging, but doing so would require additional purchase of hardware (like an IP-PBX or a VoIP gateway to tie into the legacy PBX), which might have you put off.
- Or you may need additional server hardware because Microsoft has not supported virtualization for unified messaging, so in these tight times, that hardware purchase has delayed any unified messaging investment.
You can now scratch that last excuse off the list, because the Microsoft Exchange team has opened the unified messaging role for virtualization.
Of course, you could virtualize unified messaging before Microsoft's formal support of it -- I've been doing so for years, once Microsoft worked out some kinks in early versions of Hyper-V and in voice quality. It has worked fine for me in labs, in conferences, and even in production environments. It wasn't supported by Microsoft, but it has worked like a champ.