Microsoft launches Lync in ME
Unified communications solution is designed to reduce hardware, travel costs
Microsoft has announced the launch of its new Lync unified communications software in the Middle East.
The software is designed to allow an organisation to provide various communications applications, such as instant messaging, presence information, and to integrate with a user's calendar.
The software also offers voice over IP and voice functionality, eliminating the need for desk phones.
"Lync is one of our most exciting products in the portfolio and we are happy to announce its launch in the gulf region. Globally this product launched in November. It is a new version of a product previously known as office communications server or OCS," Yasir Khokhar, information worker business group lead, Microsoft Gulf told ITP.net.
According to Khokhar, Lync is to the enterprise is what MSN Messenger is to the consumer.
The software is designed to reduce corporate communication costs by doing away with desktop handsets, which generally need to be upgraded every year or two years.
Companies can also do away with their PBX systems if they wish as Lync is a software solution that does all the switching to the correct phone line.
"We believe in the power of choice, we can work with your existing telephony infrastructure, if it is already there. PBX replacement can be a big project for a medium company; if they want to keep their PBX we will integrate with it. You can replace and remove your desk phone for example, but if you want to get better savings over a slightly longer term by removing it, you can remove that whole thing. The switch depends on what you are trying to achieve," said Khokhar
The Lync system provides conferencing functionality, reducing travel costs through cross-border and international conferencing.
The software is also designed to work with software that is already installed on a business' computer, such as Outlook, Office and Xcel and functions just like a phone.
"We have a company in France which has decided to completely remove the traditional phones, which means that all the employees today have a PC and a headset and they can work everywhere, if they move or are visiting customers. They have more than 3,000 Lync connections today," said Charles James, director of Polycom Microsoft Alliance EMEA, one of Microsoft's Lync partners in the Middle East.
In this specific field Microsoft is facing competition from both Cisco and Avaya, both of which provide unified communications solutions.
Khokhar says Microsoft has an edge over both Cisco and Avaya because the company is a software company and knows what the user experience should be and what the solution should incorporate to satisfy clients. To do this, Microsoft has brought onboard several partners including Polycom and Jabra.
"Our experience is simple, we provide the most comprehensive unified solution for communications on the market today, we offer the power of choice, we do not lock you in with a single vendor and we have a large partner ecosystem so you are again not stuck to a single vendor solution, you can choose what device you want for your headsets, for your networking infrastructure or for your PBX and all of this helps you save your costs," he said. "Cisco is a hardware company which manufactures networking infrastructure and switches, they have handsets which are telephones, but it is a bit difficult to use those telephones for a lot of the functions that they do provide. They are also moving and coming up with some software solutions, whereas our strength is that we integrate with everything that you have on your desktop."
Currently Emirates Airlines has implemented the Lync system and according to Microsoft, they are very happy with the system.
Business customers can purchase Lync and anyone can download a free trial version of Lync at http://www.lync.com.