There has been a bit of a lull in my blogging, for a number of reasons,
However October and November have had some rather large announcements in the UC space. Namely the announcement of R2 last month and the "Online" yesterday.
Rather than regurgitate what has been announced I thought I would give you a quick update of what I have seen in the past year since the initial launch of Office communication server 2007 in October 2007 and how the ecosystem has changed.
The launch was great and I think you could say that we had a fair share of techies that loved it and a fair share of who said it couldn't cut it in the voice world. Shortly after the launch some members of the UC team went to a Voice reseller event. It was a real eye opener for me, while understanding they way Partners do business and how Microsoft support the partners, it was quite interesting to go to a event whereby the whole model was different, and that a world of margins and shifting tin was the nature of the game. Trying to convince telephony resellers that we work to a different model was challenging to say the least and I must admit that it really hit me that these guys where not going to adopt our technology simply because of the technology and the benefits it could offer. Also while these resellers and the telephony vendors were aware of what Microsoft could do, it was early days and I think the common consensus was while a threat, Microsoft were an unknown quantity.
What a difference a year makes........
We returned this year, almost exactly twelve months later, and the whole dynamic had changed. Interestingly three of the big telephony vendors presented real life case studies of Unified Communications. Each case study included OCS. Not surprising from my point of view as I am aware of it capabilities. However the resellers sitting in the audience couldn't believe it. One reseller asked the question:-
Why are you including OCS in your solutions?. Microsoft have plans to replace the PBX and surely this will lead to the death of your business and mine?.
The answers from the panel ranged from "There is a saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer" to "I would use the term alternative to a pbx rather than replaced"
So what am I actually trying to convey - well it boiled down to one thing in order to survive in the telephony market you have to diversify, the margin and shifting tin model is on its last legs.
This brings me nicely to the initial announcements. There are lots of telephony resellers that need to diversify and how can they do it. Well if you are not able to employ Microsoft engineers then the Microsoft Online Services will enable you to sell Exchange and Sharepoint. Likewise there are plenty of Microsoft Partners who have these wealth of skills and probably lack some skills in the telephony arena. Share the love and cross pollenate your skills between the data and voice channels. Because if you don't with the imminent release of R2 I think it will become easier for Microsoft Partners to do the Telephony implementation on there own.
Find out more about the Microsoft Online offerings here and what is planned for R2 here
Microsoft Online Services
Office Communication Server R2
And if you would like to sign up for the Virtual launch of R2 go here