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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.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Unified Messaging and Microsoft Exchange

If you talk to people who have been part of the Unified Messaging (UM) evolution, you may notice a taste of bitterness towards Microsoft. The Redmond based company introduced Unified Messaging in their Microsoft Exchange 2007. This development comes almost 10 years into the life of UM. Yet all you hear in the market these days is Microsoft Exchange UM.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if there was any traction for Microsoft's UM in the market and how it affected competition. Based on my discussions with user organisations and having seen some fresh shipment figures of the main players, I could say with some confidence that I didn't see any effect on competition. To the question on traction, I begged for time.

Since then I spoke with a number of people in the channel community across the world. Plus I interacted with a number of user organisations. For instance, the other day the IT Director of a borough in England clearly indicated that he will be considering UM once he installs Exchange 2007. I met up with a country manager of a software vendor who said that a growing number of his clients are talking about UM in conjunction to Exchange 2007.

This begs a question--what is it about Microsoft UM that leads to such a traction compared to competition's products that has been in the market for over 10 years? I can offer you my thoughts but first let me find out what you think.

1 comment:

Matt said...

In some ways, I see this as a reflection on how the existing UM solutions have been implemented.

This is talking from an architectural design perspective, and how it affects the users, rather than any service element - although that is obviously an impact.

Your latest post talks about CallPilot, and it is a case in point that although the product has been called Unified Messaging - it doesn't support server based unified messaging and is therefore less functional than 'true' UM. My own phrase.

Does it matter? Well, it does from the user point of view. The bottom line is that the voicemail isn't presented in the main inbox, it isn't as intuitive, plus things like thin client are going to make the experience even less satisfying - by providing an alternative interface no less (ie, not Outlook Web Access.

There are few alternatives. Unity does the same thing now for companies below a certain level of software (I think it's a different product than full Unity), and it is heresay but the recommendation for MM is that it is deployed as a client based system.

Further issues exist at a user management level, and the choice of architecture - to solely develop a product database on exchange and AD, causes management 'issues'.

So there has been some less than perfect product development over the 10 years, but also, the channel skills have taken a while to get to the point where telephony vendors are going to support the integration - only to find that the integration can be troublesome.

I would imagine the support issues will be the same going the other way with Exchange Vendors learning telephony. Such are the challenges of convergence.

AVST take a lower impact route and for that reason they have most of the issues resolved. However, they get less exposure than some of the major telephony vendors.