Extended interoperability for Office Communications Server 2007

Traditional telecoms players align themselves with Microsoft to provide integration

this from the Unified Communications Group Team Blog Russell Bennett the UC senior program manager has promoted an alliance between Microsoft and just about everyone worth mentioning to provide interoperability between OCS and existing PABXs

no comment from Mark as yet but I’d hope to see a UK perspective soon.

this is a commitment by some major major players of the telecoms world to provide seamless ( well as seamless as possible) interoperability with Microsoft Office Communications server.

you’d think as we’re all talking SIP these days this would be a given however as always interoperability is not always so straightforward, for instance OCS uses the SIP standard over TCP and a fair proportion of other equipment uses SIP over UDP to communicate. this isn’t an insurmountable problem however it is not conducive to an easy out of the box experience.

What these manufacturers are actually supporting is Microsoft’s interoperability specification for OCS 2007 which extends the basic interoperability afforded by SIP to include transparent support  of key features found in OCS  across platforms.

we should see the ability to transparently provide

  • a common intuitive user experience
  • multi media interoperation of voice, video, text messaging, web collaboration
  • Ad-hoc multi-party, multi-modal conferencing  ( this will be a challenge I am sure)
  • Integration with business applications
  • Rich Presence, so full multi modal state information shared across platforms 
  • Mobility
  • Enhanced security

the  main press release includes pithy statements from the big players worthy of mention

  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Avaya.
  • Cisco.
  • Ericsson.
  • Genesys.
  • Mitel.
  • NEC.
  • Nortel Networks.
  • Siemens

Which is how Microsoft reach the the 80% figure of the installed base, I think this is too optimistic for me  the installed base is a notoriously treacherous place to make promises in, Cisco found that in the early days using trad telephony protocols like DPNSS   ( having had bitter experience of interoperability or lack thereof in the past we could be chasing wild geese for months).  On the brighter side native support of the interop spec is to be extended by the use of IP gateways from AudioCodes, Dialogic and Quintum although I am skeptical about gateway traversal of a lot of proprietary systems.

I’m sure these companies can provide interoperability moving forward but I’d expect existing kit to require upgrades ( usually costly) or those gateways’s already mentioned remember PBXs last for years, the established replacement cycle  was always 7 and sometimes longer years which is way way before SIP or even mainstream IP adoption so the chances of older kit being up to scratch is slim.

I am still unsure as to what the outcome of all this is as as I’ve said before OCS is potentially a direct competitor for a great deal of the high, value added applications that the trad telecom companies rely on for big chunk of their revenue, interop seems to open the door for third party developers to get in there with niche apps, I’d expect entry level costs to plummet.

I guess for most of these companies ( with the possible exception of Cisco) it’s  a case of having to offer interoperability or be left behind at the moment and assess the impact of the erosion of core revenues. I’m pretty sure most of the players concerned couldn’t take on Microsoft so I can see them rapidly moving to call routing applications that use the OCS core as a base for their own applications.

One of the most interesting aspects is the potential for vicarious interoperability between established systems using OCS as a mediator, although I am sure this will be a licensing minefield.

exciting times ahead….

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2 Responses to Extended interoperability for Office Communications Server 2007

  1. Russell says:

    Hit this link (http://www.microsoft.com/uc/products/default.mspx) and download the whitepaper (click on “Learn more about how Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 will interoperate with current PBX systems”).

    This tells more about we will be integrating with legacy PBXs and IP-PBX.

    Russell

  2. alasdairford says:

    cheers Russell I’ll have a look and give you some feedback

    al

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