That Bump In The Night Was OCS Kicking Out Your PBX

Tuesday, Microsoft launched R2 of Office Communications Server 2007. But rather than a minor upgrade, there's some heavyweight features that moves OCS into the ranks of a viable PBX replacement. In OCS 2007 R2, Microsoft is filling out the product with the capabilities most needed to realistically replace IP PBXs with the software-based VoIP offering from Microsoft. SIP trunking, attendant console, and response groups (basic call routing/distribution feature) top the list. As a bonus, Microsoft has added dial-in conferencing and remote desktop sharing. That means you can ditch WebEx and other conferencing services in favor of using your own OCS for the same service. Seems like a good way to take a few line items off your communications bill to help cost justify the upgrade to OSC. It all sounds good, but, is it really realistic to replace your PBX with OCS 2007 R2?

I talked with one of the top experts on Microsoft's voice communications products, Terry Gold, CEO of Gold Systems, who is a go-to partner for Microsoft's communications products. Terry's been running his medium sized business on OCS and believes it's ready for primetime. Now, I know you're going to say Terry is biased because his business is involved in selling customers the Microsoft solution, but I also know that Terry is the guy who's left holding the bag if this stuff doesn't work. So, I expect if he says it's ready, then we're on the right track. Friday I'll be visiting Terry's office to see for myself.

The way Microsoft has integrated OCS into the desktop is also quite impressive. The communications client ties in VoIP with IM, Video and user presence on their desktop, IP phone, cell phone and also when working at home. IP phones can be relocated from the office to your home office without reconfiguration.

Now that Microsoft seems to have a fully viable PBX replacement, will the customers bite? The unified communications is pretty compelling. and maybe saving the costs from 3rd party conferencing and desktop sharing will be the kicker to help OCS push out the legacy or VoIP PBX.

With budgets tightening, we'll see if Microsoft can make a compelling enough story to put an OCS upgrade on the 209 IT budget. Here's an open invitation to a knowledgeable Microsoft OCS spokesperson: both you and Terry Gold are welcome to come on my NWW Converging On Microsoft Podcast to make the case. I hope you'll join me.

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