Microsoft Lync: Will Unified Communications Partners Sign On?
The VAR Guy’s head is still spinning after yesterday’s Microsoft Lync launch extravaganza, where Senior VP Chris Capossela showed off Microsoft’s next-generation unified communications system. Lync demonstrations were certainly impressive. But will partners help Microsoft to promote Lync as both an on-premises solution and a SaaS offering? Here’s The VAR Guy’s view on the situation.
Capossela and Corporate VP of the Office Communications Group Gurdeep Singh Pall put Lync (formerly Office Communications Server) through its paces in front of the audience of Microsoft customers, partners and media. The presentation focused on device integration, click-to-call functionality, and streamlined interface.
In no particular order, some highlights of that presentation:
- Singh Pall really hammered home the power of Lync’s enterprise internet telephony, saying “the era of the PBX is over.” But he also made it clear that Microsoft is serious about Lync’s ability to integrate with existing PBX deployments.
- Lync’s IM and chat capabilities can be extended to Microsoft Windows Live Messenger users — and even to the Microsoft XBox’s new controller-less Kinect platform, with that functionality coming soon.
- And speaking of “coming soon,” Capossela officially confirmed that a Microsoft Lync application would be coming to Windows Phone 7 and Apple iPhone next year.
- An important function of the Lync interface, says Singh Pall, is the fact that it automatically updates your availability depending on if your calendar says you’re in a meeting, if you’re on a phone call, or just busy.
- Lync is a platform, says Capossela, and its success is going to hinge on Microsoft’s ISV community and the tools they develop on top of it.
After that presentation, The VAR Guy caught up with Microsoft partners BT and Verizon. As expected, both partners expressed a boatload of enthusiasm for Lync’s bold new steps into true VoIP integration. No one’s expecting Microsoft to crush the PBX market the instant Lync Server 2010 becomes available on December 1, 2010. But those who attended the Lync launch event said VARs will profit from value assessments and deployment management services.
To that end, in fact, Verizon announced two major initiatives: a Microsoft Online Services-powered UC and collaboration solution for SMBs and Verizon Professional Services for large enterprise Lync deployments. Expect more details on that front soon from The VAR Guy.
SaaS and Cloud Perspectives
There’s a lot of enthusiasm around Microsoft Lync – but I suspect that there’s still some doubt, too, especially in the SMB community. Like most of Microsoft’s applications, Lync will be available on premise or as a SaaS solution — delivered as part of Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite). When Office 365 succeeds BPOS sometime in 2011, it’s going to bring affordable unified communications to the masses thanks to the cloud-hosted Lync Online.
But some partners continue to fear Microsoft’s cloud strategy, especially because Microsoft is handling the end-customer billing process. Still, The VAR Guy is getting a bit ahead of himself. Most of the Lync launch event was notably light on hosted and managed Lync deployment-talk.