Office Communication Server 2007 deployment might be easier than you think

* What is the value of OCS and presence in general?

Microsoft Office Communication Server 2007 (OCS) is Microsoft's platform for handling synchronous communications, including VoIP, instant messaging, integration with legacy telephone systems and presence across all of these systems. It is a key element in Microsoft's unified communications thrust into the workplace.

So just how easy is it to deploy OCS? Alex Lewis, a senior consultant focused on Microsoft technologies, decided to find out. As discussed in a column earlier this month, Alex deployed OCS in an environment that emulated a small enterprise of fewer than 5,000 seats. Using two domain controllers, one Exchange 2007 server and a SharePoint server with PKI already deployed, he deployed a single OCS server. The entire process, including the creation of certificates and their configuration, took just over two hours. Admittedly, Alex had a clean DNS infrastructure, but the entire deployment went more smoothly than he expected.

The bigger question is do you need OCS? One of the key arguments for it is that by integrating presence information into e-mails, Office applications, SharePoint documents, etc., users can reduce telephone tag and become more efficient by having improved access to the people with whom they work. When you’re working on a Word document, for example, you can determine if a co-author of the document is available for an instant messaging conversation and, if so, get a more immediate answer to your question.

There are some who don’t believe in the importance of deploying OCS or any other presence infrastructure to solve these kinds of problems, but I disagree. Presence is an incredibly useful tool in speeding communications between co-workers and others. It can also be disruptive, allowing people to interrupt you in a way that telephone calls and e-mails don’t. On balance, however, I believe that presence offers much more upside for business communication than downside.

Any thoughts? Please send me an e-mail with your views on the value of OCS and presence in general.

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