By Chris Dalby
The Unified Communications (UC) Launch on 16 October 2007 marks the start of a dramatic change in the way we can all do business.
It is clear that Microsoft have been listening to their customers with the release of Live Meeting 2007 which is a huge step in the right direction. The interface is cleaner, less cluttered, more obvious and easier.
Office Communications Server (OCS) and/or Live Meeting 2007
OCS already incorporates the Live Meeting client. So if I have OCS installed why would I need the hosted Live Meeting 2007 service?
The nature of OCS means that the intended target users are Enterprise customers with a significant amount of network infrastructure and resources.
The hosted version of Live Meeting offers more services targeted at the Education and training market not available in OCS without the need to sustain a high spec network infrastructure:
Hosted features not available on OCS Live Meeting 2007:
Break out rooms - create breakout rooms on the fly, or in advance, and drag and drop attendees and resources
Resources management - import resources from break out rooms into main meeting. See who has commented on resources.
Testing facilities - test attendees and receive marks and run reports
Registration/Event Management Service - Schedule meeting registration and publicity campaigns
It is expected that some OCS customers will use OCS for internal meetings and also Hosted Live Meeting 2007 for external meetings. There are a number of reasons why you would want to use both OCS and hosted Live Meeting 2007:
Training - large enterprises already using OCS for presence and IM, adding Live Meeting 2007 as an extra service for all internal users is out of the box functionality.
Running your own OCS infrastructure for both internal and external meetings is a huge undertaking to receive the same level of reliability and dependability that matches the hosted service.
The hosted service requires no hardware or software investment and, if the last 2 years are anything to go by, seemingly 100% uptime. I have never known the hosted service to go down in the 2 years I have been selling it.
Exchange Server 2003 used to boast about the fact that it only ran 3 servers to power the whole Microsoft email infrastructure. Hosted Live Meeting 2007 doesn't try to do that. It says I have huge redundancy server farms, you ain't never going to experience an outage or struggle for large meeting rooms.
Features I like about Live Meeting 2007
The interface is everything you wanted from 2005 and more.
Using the Manage Resources feature, you can embed video, audio, office documents or whatever into one document that you can use for the whole meeting.
Round Table is an exciting video conferencing device capable of a 360 degree panoramic view of the meeting attendees round the table.
The breakout rooms are a genius idea and make a Live Meeting seem like a real event.
The new colour palette is a step in the right direction, but a more customisable and granular system is needed.
VOIP functionality in Live Meeting 2007 is fantastic, but it will remain to be seen which of the operators decide to turn this feature on, rather than provide a metered rate per minute for conference calling.