The realities of the modern market are such that most manufacturers tend to tie the consumer closer to themselves. As a result, vertical solutions are proposed, which, perhaps, fulfill the functions assigned to them, but doom the customer to dictate from the manufacturer’s side. This may consist not only in the need to purchase the development of only one brand, but also requires the training of specialists (which, in fact, will be narrowly focused on the products of a specific manufacturer), purchase of additional licenses, service contracts, etc. The orientation of only one manufacturer can, in the end, be very expensive.
At the same time in each organization can be used several independent networks (LAN, the telephone network, VCS, mobile communications). Each of them individually covers one aspect of business communications, but since all systems are built on the basis of various technologies and standards, we get a set of vertical loosely coupled (or even independent) solutions. In this historical setting, the idea of unified communications arose when a user can get any type of data at any time and on any device.
Today the concept of Unified Communications has not yet settled within a clear framework, which gives the reason for some companies to speculate on the term itself. The market offers a variety of individual products, in the name of which there is a phrase Unified Communications, but often it’s just a few products, not a system. But unified communications are a complex solution consisting of many “bricks”, which, nevertheless, should work as a whole, providing the user with advanced communication and communication capabilities. An important factor is also the possibility of integration with the developments of other manufacturers.
Microsoft in this context develops only software, however, our solutions work with hardware platforms from other manufacturers: Polycom and Nortel Networks phones, Cisco Audio Codes, Huawei IP gateways, etc. There are also other compatible user devices, a complete list of which can be found on our website.
Microsoft also has a hardware and software solution for video conferencing – Round-Table.
For UC, both the hardware and software components are important, and we have focused on the latter. Maybe we do not have such advanced telephony technologies as those companies that focus on the hardware component, but, as practice shows, even what exists is more than enough (although we are constantly working to improve the software and add relevant and Perspective services). A simple example: today an IP phone is, in fact, a computer capable of supporting about 900 functions, but for the vast majority of users it takes no more than nine.
The communication system can be considered unified if it is able to offer telephony, audio/video conferencing, file and text messaging, and various email services in a single package. In addition, remote collaboration tools should be provided, as well as the ability to determine the availability of the user at a given time (Presence). From the point of view of Microsoft, this means that the user terminal, whatever it is (PC, netbook, communicator or other devices) should support our client module, which in turn interacts with the server software. In this direction, we offer four major developments, which include, in addition to the Exchange Server mail server, three products from the MS Office 2007 line: Communication Server, Communicator, and Live Meeting.
At the same time, we do not focus on the data transmission networks themselves. The main goal of our products is to help to use the existing networks most efficiently, “driving” in them as much telecommunications services as are necessary for the company’s activities. The world has already realized the advantages of managed Unified Communications: for example, on the basis of Microsoft solutions, there are already hundreds of systems implemented, users of which are more than half a million people. So that unified communications is an actual and demanded phenomenon.
Based on the materials from Microsoft.