Lync Conference 2014 Ran Inbar

Lync Conference 2014 – Smashing into a New Era

[Post is better viewed on the blog Website]

Lync Conference 2014 Ran InbarThe second annual Lync Conference is now behind us, this year held in the Aria Convention Center in Las Vegas and again a sell-out.  Themed “Coming Together”, the event was attended by some 1,800 end-customers, partners and Microsoft staffers.   Mecca for the Lync faithful, the Lync Conference is the place to be for Lync education, networking and a peek at coming attractions.

This year saw an increasing number of enterprise users, many sharing their experiences in moving beyond their early pilots to full implementations.  During AudioCodes’ private “Circle of Excellence” pre-conference event, we heard from a number of Lync network administrators about their successes and challenges in implementing Lync voice and conferencing across their enterprises.  Cargill, Amgen, Bally Entertainment and a number of other large enterprises all shared their Lync migration stories in great detail.  You can read a summary of the event by Brent Kelly, Consultant at KelCor.

We also took the opportunity to demonstrate our new 430HD and 440HD IP Phones along with our Better Together over IP functionality for Microsoft Lync.  Shown here, Ran Inbar, CTO Unified Communication for AudioCodes demonstrates the Better Together functionality to Matt Landis, a widely read blogger on the topic of Lync.

On the main keynote stage, Microsoft announced some key milestones for Lync with Derek Burney demonstrating the increasingly integrated Skype/Lync experience, the newly updated Lync client for Android tablets and a pre-release look at voice-driven “zero click” Lync client features.

Microsoft Lync Conference 2014 Gurdeep PallFollowing Derek, Gurdeep Singh Pall returned to the stage, announcing the end of the era of Unified Communications and the start of Universal Communications, bringing a consistent user experience across media types and devices. Gurdeep also demonstrated a web-based Jscript application, showing a somewhat un-realistic medical consultation experience, where a patient could hold a video call with a doctor.  (While the technology is very much realistic, in my experience, actually getting a doctor on a video call is highly un-realistic – they seem to be pretty techno-phobic.)

AudioCodes had the opportunity to share our experiences on a panel discussion on the Lync Ecosystem, sharing the stage with AT&T, Jabra, Unify2 and HP.  Challenging the “one throat to choke” argument, the panel dissected the benefits of the well established relationships between the large systems integrators, partners and enterprise buyers.

And finally, in an over-the-top spectacle, Microsoft’s exhibit featured a “product launch” cage where visitors could use a large slingshot to launch legacy telecom devices into a wall, aiming for a target with a gong in the center.  The occasional direct hit would fill the hall with the crashing sound, followed by cheers from the crowd.

Even if you missed the event, you can still participate in the conversation on http://mylync.lyncconf.com – Alan can be reached  via email at alan.percy@audiocodes.com or on Twitter @AlanDPercy

I don't gamble

I Don’t Gamble

The AudioCodes-Microsoft Lync angle

[Post is better viewed on the blog Website]

I don’t gamble.  Not that I hate gambling, or that I don’t understand the “thrill” that comes with it.  I just don’t gamble.

When I was in my early 20’s I went on a family vacation in Puerto Rico, and our hotel had a casino.  I had 5 quarters in my pocket when I sat next to a slot machine.

4 quarters went away in a blink of an eye.  The fifth gave me back 6 quarters, and as I was about to kiss the last one goodbye and move on, I won $86.

I took the money and ran off to rent a jet ski. That was it. I never put a single coin in a slot machine since.

I recalled this since 2014 starts off for me with an unusual sequence of travel destinations:  I just got back from Macau China two weeks ago from our APAC sales kickoff event, and I’m heading next to Las Vegas for the Microsoft annual Lync Conference.  The two biggest gambling destinations in the world, 1 month apart, for someone who doesn’t gamble. Go figure.

I don't gamble

2014 is starting off on a very positive note for our Lync program.  We have introduced a new high capacity session border controller (SBC) which has sufficient capacity to cover the data centers and headquarters of 99.9% of the world’s enterprises.  We focused significant development efforts on functionality, security and interoperability in the last 3 years, and in 2013 we were able to quickly scale up the capacity of our SBC.  I think that the timing is pretty good because we are seeing enterprises scaling up their Lync deployments, and as they start retiring legacy PBX and ISDN/T1 trunks, they are moving to SIP Trunking.  This is exactly where we fit in with our SBC, as part of our very successful One Voice for Lync offering which includes gateways, SBC, SBA, IP Phones and applications for Lync.

Our release got a lot of positive industry reviews such as the article Thinking Big with AudioCodes by Blear Pleasant on UC Strategies.

“That’s why AudioCodes is “thinking big” and introduced the Mediant 9000 Session Border Controller, which supports up to 16,000 concurrent sessions and extends the capacity of AudioCodes Mediant SBC family.  As part of AudioCodes’ One Voice for Lync product portfolio, the larger capacity SBCs enable enterprise customers to consolidate the network infrastructure for Microsoft Lync, simplifying training, deployment and support. AudioCodes and Microsoft have been working together for years, and AudioCodes realized that it was important to expand its SBC capacity in order to better support large Lync deployments. This is especially important as the momentum for Microsoft Lync continues to grow, with nearly 60% of enterprises with over 500 seats surveyed by Infotrack deploying or planning to deploy Lync.”

It was very clear to us that once we complete the networking products portfolio, the next step would be to offer a uniform management suite for it, and that we did!  We just announced our One Voice Operations Center which is a holistic suite of life-cycle management applications for large scale cloud or premise-based unified communications deployments.  With that, we are very well positioned to serve the largest of the Fortune 500 enterprises as they roll out Lync globally.

Just before the Lync conference starts, we will be hosting a closed user group event of top notch Fortune enterprise customers, for a round-table discussion about Lync global roll out best practices. Later in the week we are holding a “Vegas Style” party for our partners and customers. If you are coming to the event please make sure to stop by the Audiocodes booth #625.

All in all I expect we will have a great week in Vegas.

It makes me feel that if you plan properly, you don’t have to gamble…

Image: Collaborating with Lync and AudioCodes One Voice for Lync

Lync Rocks for Collaboration

[This is the first post in our Lync Migration series of posts]

I come from the video communications market, video is my bread and butter, my default for any business or personal communication. Sometimes I forget that not everyone sees the world of communication as I do. To many, communication is a phone call.

In my previous life working for a video company (Radvision), meetings using video were conducted using our own dog food. Lync was installed and used mainly on PCs for IM, and when we wanted to get “real”, we switched to our personal video VC-240 computer screens, a product we developed with Samsung in a partnership I led back in 2009.

Coming over to AudioCodes exposed me to a new world of Lync and integration of Lync with other enterprise telephony systems. It’s not that I didn’t experience Lync collaboration and dual ringing in the past, it is that at this company, this integration is at its best, bringing collaboration to new heights.

AudioCodes puts significant focus on products for Lync deployments through its One Voice for Lync solution offering. The solution includes products that make migration to Lync easy and at the pace the customer choses – gradual user, branch and systems migration, etc. At AudioCodes, we eat our own dog food and use Lync and AudioCodes systems regularly.

This full integration means that I can see, on my AudioCodes HW IP Phone, the Lync status of my colleagues, I can pick-up a call on the IP Phone or on the Lync application and perform different actions from both systems (phone or application). Additionally, I can connect PSTN and SIP Trunks traffic to the Lync network. Naturally I can IM, video call, collaborate and share documents on Lync as well.

Collaborating to Launch This Blog

Image: Collaborating with Lync and AudioCodes One Voice for Lync

As part of the work for launching this blog I had to speak with many people, some not located in our offices in Israel. Video calling via Lync and collaboration were key tools for keeping the work going and being

productive. As a user, it seems natural that you can now see the presence status of people directly from the email they sent you and start a collaboration session in one click. To the user, the platform the remote user is using (Lync, Enterprise PBX, Mobile, PSTN) is completely transparent.

The reality behind the scenes is not so simple on both the technical and business sides of things. Companies don’t tend to go for a forklift migration but rather a gradual one that also preserves previous investments as much as possible. As such, there needs to be a choice between hosted and on-premise deployment, or maybe a hybrid type of deployment with resiliency achieved by deploying an on-premise cloud appliance. This is just a short and non-exhaustive list of things to consider.  On this blog we will start a series of posts that cover topics related to migration to Lync. You can view it as a kind of a guide to the perplexed.

Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe to receive updates when we share new posts.