Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Microsoft OCS Managed Service for SMEs?

Microsoft's Office Communications Server hasn't begun shipping in general release. But that hasn't stopped OCS from garnering significant mind share among enterprise information technology managers. Some recent surveys by the Gartner Group and Wainhouse Research show OCS in the top spot among unified communications providers, according to Gurdeep Singh Pall, Microsoft corporate VP.

Pall positions OCS as an alternative to private branch exchanges (business phone systems) in either the time division multiplex or Internet Protocol or hybrid flavors. But Pall also notes that OCS obviates the need for a PBX of any sort, though it interoperates with IP and TDM systems. That's one reason Microsoft is introducing a new line of desktop phones that work with OCS.

Less attention has been paid to the issue of how small and mid-sized enterprises will some day be able to use OCS. Warren Barkley, a principal group program manager at Microsoft, says a hosted service ulitmately will be made available to SMEs.

Barkley simply noted that small organizations generally lack the IT resources to set up and run an OCS style unified communications system. It wouldn't be the first hosted service Microsoft offers.

Microsoft already offers a hosted collaboration platform, LiveMeeting, and is moving to offer applications such as customer relationship management as services.

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