Extended interoperability for Office Communications Server 2007

June 1, 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….


Exchange 2007 and Windows Mobile 6 feature matrix

May 30, 2007

Windows Mobile 5.0 & 6 with exchange 2007 from an Exchange perspective

This Deep Dive into Windows Mobile 6.0 and Exchange Server 2007 from the exchange team blog is essentially a rehash of the Jason’s earlier post  but from an exchange perspective ( of course ).

The post has the benefit of showing just the WM6 and Exchange 2007 synergies and also of actually showing the comparative glory of HTML mail on a WM5.0, a  WM 6 and an Outlook client which is a useful illustration.

The biggest message to take away is that the deployment of an Exchange 2007 server in the Client Access Server (CAS) role (what we used to call a front end server)  is not enough to enable the advanced functionality.

The WM6 functionality is dependent on the version of exchange the mailbox server is running not the front end server. This is different from the Exchange 2000 / 2003 mixed environment.

Be very careful here as I also hear from our deployment teams that the Exchange 2007 CAS in an Exchange 2003 environment is over complex and doesn’t quite do what it says on the tin, at least not without a bit of tweaking.

there seems to be an error as I can definitely make use of Fetchmail ( inline message fetch ) to download the remainder of the message from within the message on my E650 which is connecting to a Exchange 2003 production environment.

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Microsoft and Orange Announce Software as a Service collaboration

May 22, 2007

innovative SAAS  (or is it CAAS) service for hosted Unified Communications and Collaboration

                France Telecom

this announced by France Telecom today (Monday) a service in which Microsoft and Orange Business Services have teamed up to provide unified communications and collaboration tools to multinationals:

the full transcript :

Orange Business Services and Microsoft today announced “Business Together with Microsoft”, an innovative collaborative solution to accelerate the use of unified communications in companies. “Business Together with Microsoft” also helps companies keep up with the latest market requirements for fast communication, constant contact with colleagues, customers and partners, and efficient information sharing.

“Business Together with Microsoft” lets companies radically improve the communication habits of their employees. It gives access to a range of tools that they can use either when mobile or from their workstation. They can take advantage of new services, with total security, from any terminal that is equipped with a compatible web browser. Through a single Windows Outlook interface, they can access their mailbox, view voice messages as emails, read faxes, make voice over IP calls, and access their contacts and calendar. They can also communicate in real time through audio, video, web conferencing or instant messaging.  In addition, they can also manage and share documents and calendars. An encrypted link to their mailbox gives them access to powerful search functions.

Orange Business Services tailors “Business Together with Microsoft” to meet individual customer needs. The complete range of services includes consulting and audits, migration to IP, integration, managed IT infrastructure and applications services, and outsourcing.

“There is a huge demand for collaborative solutions in today’s working environment,” says Laurent Kocher, vice president, Global Services, Orange Business Services. “Cooperative work between employees in different locations across time zones is expected to make up more than half of a typical office employee’s work time by 2015. Companies need to provide staff with the tools to respond quickly to constant demands for attention and an efficient way to manage multiple types of contact”.

“Business Together with Microsoft” is currently available for multinational companies across the world, and is based on the complementary nature of the new generation of software launched recently by Microsoft: Office Communications Server 2007, Exchange Server 2007, Forefront and Office SharePoint Server.

“Business Together with Microsoft” leverages the complementary skills and expertise of the two companies: Orange Business Services in the area of messaging, IP convergence and network-related services; Microsoft in unified communications and collaboration solutions.

It’s an interesting alliance, Microsoft and Orange have been working closely together for some time and this is the first public tangible product to appear.

Reading between the lines it appears to be an Outlook Web Access portal providing access to Sharepoint for collaboration and the UC features of Exchange 2007 with Office Communications Server 2007 providing a VoIP portal, I suspect to Orange SIP trunks.

A packaged unified communications Inbox with Presence, Instant messaging, collaboration  and VoIP calls from wherever you can get access to a browser a very useful suite of applications

An interesting and maybe risky combination as OCS 2007 is still in beta, nevertheless an interesting proposition for the multinational with many mobile workers.

We are going to see a lot more of this,  in my opinion SAAS is about to explode.

I think it’ll have more impact and be much more interesting amongst the smaller business community, imagine if you could have access to all this big company technology with small company agility and no headaches of management……. watch this space…….

I’d  be very interested to see the appetite for managed hosted services out there amongst the smaller business community, if you have an opinion why not share it?

Is SAAS finally coming of age?

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RIM announces new Blackberry Application Suite for Windows Mobile 6

April 24, 2007

Give them enough Blackberry flavoured Rope ?

this via the::unwired

Research in Motion (RIM) the makers of  Blackberry have announced Blackberry Application Suite  for Windows Mobile based devices. BAS is planned  to provide a rich Blackberry application environment on Windows Mobile devices.

BAS will appear as a standard app in the programs list and will extend access to Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) for corporates and Blackberry Internet Services to WM devices.

It’s a very interesting move and one that completes the move of Blackberry from the company that co-CEO James Balsillie   described as ‘a niche device player‘ back in 2005 to a software services company in 2007.

the  plan is that BAS will expand the penetration of Blackberry services to Windows Mobile devices which Microsoft must view as a massive fillip to WM sales as if you have Domino or GroupWise in the enterprise you can now have a slinky WM 6 device that adds easy application development  to your BES access.

over time all it can do is drive Windows Mobile Sales and as Jason intimates it’ll make the transition from BES to Exchange Activesync all the more attractive and a natural progression.

I can’t help feeling that Blackberry may have shot themselves in the foot.

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Living with the Orange SPV E650 part IV

April 23, 2007

another snippet for your delectation

I’ve just discovered quick shortcuts for emails :) well actually I knew about them before however I’ve just started using them, the mark read key is a godsend

When in an email account press and hold 0 for an aide memoire

wm6shortcuts

When you’re in your email account just press and hold the relevant key to get the appropriate function.

You can use these both from the message list and when within a specific message.

a little aside on the HTML email access, the document that Jason posted to compare WM5.0 & 6 and when Exchange 2007 adds functionality suggests that you don’t need Exchange 2007 to get HTML mail – it appears you do :(

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E650 has arrived

April 18, 2007

brace your selves for a review

I don’t do unboxing shots – they’re a bit lame IMO but as proof it’s here :

pic quality a bit off as I’m using my m3100 camera

it definitely is not UMTS it is EDGE though

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OWA, Vista, IE7 & me

April 2, 2007

Microsoft have broken OWA on Vista & IE7 , so here’s how you fix it

OWA (Outlook Web Access) has long been a tool for those of us that have a need to check emails on the move, get web access, get email. Lately OWA has been superceded in my armoury by Outlook Anywhere ( I prefer the Rich client experience) but I had the occasion to use it at the weekend when at a friends house. 

BTW OWA on Exchange 2007 is getting closer to the rich client experience, anyway.

My friend has taken the plunge and gone all vista-ified and lo and behold when using OWA on Vista and with IE7 because of the removal of DHTML editing (which OWA requires) you are presented with the following unedifying screen when you try and compose  or edit an email.

oops 

OWAoops

This happens with unpatched systems running Exchange 2000 or 2003.

I’d forgotten all about this as, as I said I tend to use Outlook Anywhere but the IE blog posted about this last year and it’s obviously becoming a recurrent problem as they’ve reiterated the post and detailed the solution more recently

To quote the post

The update does not require a reboot of the Exchange server and will fully enable OWA to work for clients using IE7 in Windows Vista. If you run into this problem, we highly recommend that you contact your Exchange 2000/2003 administrator to make sure they have installed this update.

I’ve already contacted the Exchange admin to rectify the problem this might help any of you people out there with a similar issue.

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