Microsoft’s Communications Play: Skype, Lync and BYOD
Surface Pro, the long-awaited tablet from software giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), may be getting all the big attention these days as IT clamors after a device that offers the portability that their C-level executives want, but now with Office integration that lets business users be truly productive. But Microsoft may soon slowly be making inroads with another product — one that isn't a household name like Office, Surface or Windows. Here's the scoop.
Lync is Microsoft's answer to modern unified communications in business — a PBX replacement — with IM and presence, video conferencing, meetings, and telephony. And it's fair to say that it hasn't been a huge hit. Companies have been slow to move off their old PBX solutions. So why might Lync's day be coming? We spoke with Scott Gode (pictured), now a senior director at Avanade, the joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft (and formerly with Microsoft MSP Azaleos which was acquired by Avanade last year). Admittedly Gode works for a company that sells Microsoft-based solutions, so one would expect him to be promoting those solutions. But he had some interesting insights when it came to the rise of the cloud and a changing of the guard in old-time enterprise telephony solutions and unified communications.
Lync's Perfect Storm?
First, consider the rise of mobile communications and the bring-your-own-device trend. Consumers have driven both of these, and their adoption of them has translated into a comfort level and familiarity with how the technology works and its benefits.
Second, Microsoft isn't sitting still. The company recently included the 2013 version of Lync with its cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365 for business.
Third, Microsoft cares about this space. The company acquired the consumer-based UC company Skype, which so many business customers have used, too, and has much better name recognition than Lync. Microsoft has renamed its UC division as the Skype division and Lync is part of that division.
The Road Ahead
But there is still work to be done, Gode said. While Microsoft is bundling Lync 2013 in with the new version of Office 365 for business, Gode told me that it's still incomplete when it comes to the voice part of the solution. “If you want to do an enterprise voice piece, you need to put voice in the enterprise — a stand alone server on premise.” Putting the voice part of the solution into a public cloud means resolving the networking challenges that come with relying on a public cloud for time-sensitive traffic such as voice.
Enterprises want to take their IT to the cloud, Gode told me. “That's where they want to go, conceptually. They want to get management of these systems out of their hair. They are not there yet. That's why Avanade managed services exists.”