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Microsoft’s OCS 2007 heads into beta

Microsoft Corp. has issued a beta version of its new enterprise voice communications server to 2,500 companies.

January 1, 2007  

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Microsoft Corp. has issued a beta version of its new enterprise voice communications server to 2,500 companies.

The software giant says Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 will allow companies to integrate Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology into existing telephony infrastructure, eliminating the need for expensive network overhauls and also extending the life of existing investments.

“This is our first foray into incorporating voice technology into some of the productivity applications that we use today,” said Bryan Rusche, unified communication group product manager with Microsoft Canada Co. “An important aspect of this is the integration of existing telephony systems and networking gear that is on site.

“As far as cabling requirements are concerned, standard Category 5e is sufficient to support both VoIP and video conferencing with a switched infrastructure.”

The new voice server will also allow workers to launch a phone call from 2007 Microsoft Office applications such as Office Word or Outlook by clicking on a colleague’s name to determine their availability and initiate a person-to-person or multi-party call.

With native support for session initiation protocol (SIP), Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Office Communicator, interoperate with products from partners that include Nortel Networks, Alcatel, Avaya, Cisco Systems, LG-Nortel, LTD, Mitel, NEC Phillips, Polycom. and Siemens Communications.

With these partnerships, organizations will be able to support VoIP using their existing desktop phones, data networks, and time division multiplexing (TDM) or Internet Protocol (IP) private branch exchanges (PBXs), the company said in a statement.

“The convergence of telecom and data networks is happening rapidly,” said Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group.

“Software will integrate these two worlds, enabling IT managers to deliver new communications possibilities that include VoIP.”

According to the Gartner Group, the ultimate driver of VoIP is not merely cost savings, but is in business process integration.

Enterprises, it said, should evaluate their long-term strategy toward developing IP telephony applications beyond basic telephony, including business application integration.

“The workforce today is increasingly mobile — people are traveling a lot more and working from a variety of different locations,” says Rusche. “When we think about the teams that are formed in the business world to execute on go-to-market strategies and things like that, there are often transcending geographic and organizational boundaries. That does a couple of things — it makes communications complicated and often there are a lot of inefficiencies there as well from an end user perspective.”