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OCS, Lync 2010 and Lync Online

Unified Communication platform gives solution for an organization's communication and collaboration need. With the release of Lync Server 2010 Microsoft is taking collaboration to the next higher level;. ie. from LAN to over the cloud. Microsoft has added many capabilities with Lync when we compare it with the last release of Office Communication Server (OCS).

Microsoft OCS has been there around for more than 8 years starting with OCS 2003, the last release being OCS 2007 R2. OCS 2007 R2 delivered a unified platform that worked along with the organization's existing messaging and telephony infrastructure.

The main features of OCS 2007 R2 were:

  1. Call Delegation, Team Call, Group Chat
  2. Desktop Sharing, Extending Voice and Conferencing
  3. Enhanced Media, Simplified Management


This along with unified communication basic functionalities including instant messaging, presence notifications, Audio/ Video messaging and integration with office suite of products made OCS the most favorable Unified communication platform. Also OCS 2007 SDK gave us immense capability to develop applications having communicator capabilities.

Lync 2010 is the next generation unified communication platform from Microsoft. Lync 2010 brings in a new experience with the below additions

  1. The Lync client application has an easy-to-use interface that is consistent across PC, browser and mobile device.
  2. Lync 2010 extensibility features that gives you the ability to embed communicator UI elements in your application and bring the communicator capabilities in the application.
  3. There is the capability to have role based access control in Lync, with Lync defining 11 predefined roles for most of the administrative tasks.
  4. The unified Microsoft Lync 2010 client has a simplified interface to provide access to enterprise needs for communication and collaboration.

Lync Online vs Lync On-Premises

Microsoft makes unified communication easier and more reliable with Lync Online, Lync On-premises and the federated communication feature between the two. Lync online is the communication service made available in the cloud. This transforms interactions to the online mode while bringing down the infrastructure cost. Lync Online opens up the possibility to connect thorough IM to external organizations without requiring VPN.

Lync On-premise also brings in the same set of features with it being deployed on-premise that is within the organization. What this also means is the infrastructure maintenance responsibility also lies with the organization.  There is Lync Federation with Lync Online and Lync Premise available for federated communication possibility.

The choice between Lync On-premise and Lync online would lie in the organization need for online collaboration, security policies and their take on cost towards infrastructure.

Lync 2010 SDK

Lync 2010 SDK can be used by developers to build communicator capability in their application. The SDK provides communicator UI elements that can be embedded in the applications. To hide the Lync client UI and develop a custom communicator client, Lync client installation has to be done in UI Suppression mode.

More on Lync SDK is available is available here.

New Features in Lync 2010 Server

Unified Experience

  1. Lync 2010 client gives a more enhanced experience in accessing presence notifications, instant messaging and audio, video and web conferencing features.
  2. Mobile workforce can now have access to all these capabilities via PCs, browsers and mobile phones.
  3. Tight integration with Office applications. Can access all capabilities of unified communication from any of the Microsoft Office applications.

Conferencing

  1. Improvements to Desktop sharing, application sharing, PowerPoint upload and white boarding makes collaboration much easier..
  2. Scheduling, joining meetings and placing attendees in virtual lobby makes conferring more secure and easier.
  3. There are enhanced calling features for users and also management features for administrators.

Deployment and Management Tools

  1. The administration management is consistent with exchange server and active directory.
  2. The role-based access control (RBAC) has the capability to have both predefined roles and customer-defined roles. This gives improved security and increased administrative productivity.
  3. Server virtualization of most of the Lync server roles is possible. All IM capabilities including remote access with federation is possible in a virtualized deployment.
  4. Network, hardware and software can be monitored in real-time by administrators to analyze any degradation in the performance.

The following were the benefits pointed out by Forrester's survey on Lync 2010 deployment:

  1. PBX telephone systems could be replaced with Lync Server 2010 software.
  2. Significant cost reductions on Web- and teleconferencing charges.
  3. Customer experience with enterprise application would get better by having embedded communicator UI elements using the open and documented API's provided by Lync 2010.
  4. Using federation unified communication could be extended beyond the enterprise or the organization.
  5. Mobile workforce would benefit much from Lync's on-premise/ online federation service.

In summary the next generation unified communication platform Lync is going to change the way business and organizations communicate and collaborate.

Read more on Lync and OCS here and here.

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