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This article excerpt, by Kevin Kieller, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1AZQH5S
Microsoft Lync has had a good year in 2014, with a reported 5 million Lync voice seats now deployed and an ecosystem expanding around the tool. This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges ahead, though, especially as Microsoft moves ahead on its Skype for Business rebranding initiative. Let’s take a closer look at this year’s highlights and next year’s intentions.
As noted, Microsoft has reported deployment of some 5 million Lync voice seats in 2014. Other voice-related Lync highlights include:
Along with these rating and deployment successes, the Lync software, hardware and services ecosystem continued to grow:
And yet with all of the success in 2014, many enterprise communications managers still aren’t convinced that Lync alone can act as a PBX replacement. Consider these results from an attendee quick poll taken during my keynote for the recent Enterprise Connect/No Jitter virtual event, “Microsoft Lync: What Is the Impact for Your Enterprise?” (available on demand). When asked, “What do you think about Lync as a PBX replacement?,” respondents said:
In 2014 the challenges associated with implementing Lync successfully remain much the same as over the past several years. These are:
On Nov. 11, Microsoft announced that the next version of Lync will be called Skype for Business and is expected for release during the first half of 2015.
While much of the focus has been on the new name for Lync, the transition to Skype for Business is much more than a simple rebranding.
The next version of Lync brings together the development teams and technologies associated with Lync and Skype and in doing so provides unique business-to-consumer opportunities as Lync plugs into the massive scale that Skype has achieved: more than 60 million concurrent users, more than 550 million registered users, and 2 billion minutes of communications per day.
Specifically, Skype for Business will let corporate users directly connect to external parties using their Skype ID … no more complex and confusing process whereby Skype users need to sign in with a Microsoft ID in order to connect. Already we are seeing improved video interoperability between Lync for Windows desktop and Skype.
Skype for Business will provide an improved and streamlined user interface. Blind and consultative transfers will take fewer clicks, a small item but one that has been a top user requested feature. Interestingly, the new Skype for Business client will include both the classic Lync interface and the new Skype UI. IT shops will be able to flip the UI for specific user groups through a central policy. This is one of the ways that Microsoft is trying to help smooth the transition to Skype for Business. The promised in-place server upgrades is a second feature designed to accelerate adoption.
Looking to another poll from the Dec. 10 Lync virtual event, we see that organizations are at many different points in their UC journeys:
I suspect that most of the 37% who responded that they are piloting a solution not from their incumbent PBX vendor may be piloting Lync. If you are in the process of piloting or upgrading to Lync 2013, then I would recommend that you move ahead. Being on the Lync 2013 platform will make transitioning to Skype for Business easier when you decide to do this.
Lync continued its upward trajectory in 2014 and so far 2015 is looking good for the Skype for Business nee Lync team.
Posted on: 01.21.15