January 29, 2013
Microsoft Lync Certification - Assuring Your Links to the IP Future Are at Your Pace and Meet Your Needs
By Peter Bernstein
Welcome to the Microsoft (News - Alert) Lync Solutions News Community. We hope you visit often, enjoy all of the content available on this site and find it valuable. We encourage and look forward to your questions and feedback.
The mission for this community is simple. It is to become your go-to resource for timely and insightful information on maximizing the full capabilities of your business communications solution investments, specifically those centered around Microsoft Lync.
As enterprises of all sizes move to an all IP “E”vironment—for business process optimization, improved customer and value-chain interactions and for competitive reasons—Microsoft Lync is emerging as an important, and in many cases foundational, part of that move. This is true all around the world.
As part of our introduction, a good place to start is with a brief level set on three fronts:
- What Microsoft Lync is and how it is helping businesses of all sizes transform the way in which they communicate internally, with partners and customers for mutual advantage.
- Why Microsoft Lync certification matters.
- How certified solutions for literally linking with Lync, e.g., serving as a gateway to Lync, puts you in control of your organization’s move to a communications infrastructure that is high-performance, cost effective, secure and future-ready.
What is Microsoft Lync?
You are likely here because you know something about Microsoft Lync either as a user, have it but do not use it, or have it on your consideration list for next generation IP communications. The reasons are in Microsoft’s explanation of what Lync is:
“Microsoft Lync is an enterprise-ready unified communications platform. Lync connects people everywhere, on Windows 8 and other devices, as part of their everyday productivity experience. Lync provides a consistent, single client experience for presence, instant messaging, voice, video and a great meeting experience. “
Lync has been around for several years. However, why it has caught the attention and imagination of IT asset managers now is because the business imperatives to fully-leverage the power of Internet Protocol (IP) solutions in a world where real-time access to multi-channel, multimedia communications and a host of collaboration tools—regardless of location, device or even service provider used—are now table stakes for success. As such Lync, because of Mircosoft’s presence in the enterprise, has become a major contender as the business communications platform of preference as businesses migrate from their legacy voice and data networking architectures to a converged all-IP one.
In short, Lync well-positioned with enterprise customers as a platform for IP-based unified communications, and industry analysts are predicting it will likely become much more so going forward as enterprises transform their networks to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile and virtualized worlds where the business of business never stops.
Certification is key
The need to be working with Microsoft Lync certified solutions from trusted suppliers will be a critical focus of the community. Lync, particularly the 2013 version with its new bells and whistles that included Skype (News - Alert) integration for making VoIP calls, is a valuable platform because of all the functionality provided. That said, and as the community will also highlight, Lync still cannot be all things to all people.
Realty is that you want the best broadly defined performance possible from your technology investments that fit your needs. Many times these come from third-parties with intense focus and expertise on providing customized or customizable solutions. Plus, while the embrace of a Microsoft environment has its benefits, you don’t want or need to figuratively “throw the baby out with the bath water,” and do want your existing and perfectly useful legacy capabilities to work seamlessly with whatever comes next from any vendor.
Lync is a fine investment for next generation communications capabilities, and as such if you have or are investing in Lync you need certified solutions that work seamlessly with it. Common sense is that you should strive to enhance the value to your Lync investment as well as the value in what you already have. You also need the flexibility of moving to IP at your own pace and according your unique requirements. The problem is that because Lync is very picky about who it will link with, you need products that have passed rigorous tests so that you have peace of mind when it comes to their installation and operation. Going with un-certified products really is a case of “buyer beware!”
Gateways create inclusion as well as investment protectionIt is also worth discussing the challenges of linking with Lync, and why a certified gateway such as the SmartNode products from Patton (News - Alert) highlight the kinds of solutions that have been certified to work with Lync and can give you the interoperability, flexibility and control you require as your organization transforms its infrastructure.
The SmartNode is a great example of a gateway product that you should consider on several scores. First, SmartNode integrates IP and TDM communications for enterprise and carrier access networks. It offers VoIP gateways combined with IP access routing, WAN transmission, and VoIP border router functionality. It scales from 1 to 2,048 VoIP or fax calls with various telephony interfaces including analog FXS/FXO and digital ISDN BRI, PRI, DS3 and STM-1. Certified for Microsoft Lync, as the descriptions implies, it is the gateway to next generation communications, i.e., (and pardon the expression) a critical link.
So much for the technical description, what SmartNode provides are three important capabilities in regard to it being the link to Lync for the creation of business value. It enables users to:
- Continue to get value out of legacy phone systems that are not IP. This means not just avoiding premature end of life for existing investments but also giving you the flexibility to move deliberately according to a holistic approach to all of your communications, IT, financial, business process and competitive needs.
- Fallback to using the TDM legacy telecommunications network for voice communications in disaster recovery scenarios, especially in those where data connectivity may have been compromised. Time is money and loss of connectivity to valuable internal as well as external resources could be the loss of a lot of time when it is of the essence.
- SIP to Lync connectivity. You need to know that not all SIP—the session transport and management protocol used for enabling all of that wonderful unified communications, presence, VoIP, video and other services that run on data networks (including over the Internet)—is created equal. Indeed, a looming challenge is to avoid having non-communicating islands of IP solutions. IP interoperability for heterogeneous environments should is a necessity and not a nicety. That means Lync should not be a big and growing island, and your investment in other SIP solutions should not be stranded regardless of the flavor of SIP employed. The right gateways solve this problem.
The importance of the above is to highlight that it is not only advisable for a host of reasons to use a gateway to not just Lync but all IP environments. You need to be able to seamlessly plug your PBX (News - Alert), overhead paging system, or whatever else you’ve got into a gateway and let it do the hard work of resolving interoperability issues like: analog-to-digital voice coding, protocol conversions, SIP signal transcoding, etc. It is also advisable because of the importance and growth of Lync to make sure you are dealing with things, particularly critical network elements like PSTN to IP gateways, that are Microsoft Lync certified.
As noted, there is going to be lots more on all of the above every week on this community. We invite you to bookmark the site and visit often. Once again, welcome. We are delighted you came and encourage you to make full use of all of the valuable resources the site has to offer, and to let us know what you think.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi