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News and analysis of developments in the enterprise communication industry and market with primary focus on Europe.

The author aims to tap into ideas, insights and thoughts of the readers to get varied perspectives.

Views expressed in this blog are solely the author's opinion and in no way reflect those of his employer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Challenges for Microsoft in the UC world

Microsoft released a number of UC products with a lot of fanfare in SanFrancisco. It was great to watch Bill Gates deliver the keynote. As always he offered a great vision; this time for office communication.

Microsoft released a few products today that include Office Communication Server 2007, Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, Microsoft RoundTable, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 (new release), Live Meeting 7.

You may view the webcast http://www.microsoft.com/uc/default.mspx to get a grip of what they are saying if you haven't already done so. In this post I am going to focus on the challenges ahead for Microsoft UCG.

Challenge 1- Negotiating the installed communication technologies: The communication technology market (enterprise telephony; conferencing including audio, video and web; collaboration) are mature. In some cases (ex: enterprise telephony) the solutions are pervasive.

Microsoft has taken a bold approach that it will build a new communication paradigm. Its newly released products won't work with almost any PBX (probably except Nortel CS1000 perhaps), conferencing equipments, or phones that are already deployed. To address this, they are build a industry partner ecosystem. For example- In the PBX world, Nortel is developing a out-of-box integration capability with OCS. Similarly Ericsson has a mobility server in mind and Mitel is releasing a communication server built around OCS for the SMB.

Challenge 2- Unleashing the full set of capabilities: What Microsoft can offer in ideal conditions is no doubt powerful and very useful. There is no doubt in my mind that it offers significant advantages over present technologies. However to be able to enjoy the capabilities, users must not only deploy Microsoft UC products but also integrate them with their installed base. At this point in time this is a near impossibility. The success for Microsoft and the user depends on whether the users decides to replace their 'sunk-in investments' in favour of Microsoft certified products.

The assumption that users will deploy 'Microsoft or Microsoft certified products everywhere' is like a dream that every man on earth will one day walk on the moon. Nonetheless there will be deployments in pockets. Users will buy parts of the technology to fill gaps. However, they will resist discussions of replacements unless they are sweetened enough.

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