Sunday, November 28, 2010

Find Me with Exchange UM Call Answering Rules

For the longest time I have been using the Simultaneous Ringing (Sim Ring) feature of Lync Server 2010, previously Office Communications Server 2007 R2.  This feature ensured that all my Unified Communications (UC) endpoints and my mobile phone would ring for all inbound calls, allowing me to take the call wherever it was most convenient.  It also ensured I did not have to publish my cell number which is a huge benefit – people only needed to call one number to reach me.

Well, I no longer use Sim Ring, and instead am enjoying life with Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging’s (UM) Call Answering Rules.  Why, you ask?  Read on!

One Voicemail

First of all, my cell phone does not have voicemail associated with it.  This saves my company $5 per month, but more importantly, it means I only have one voicemail inbox to manage.  Of course, with Exchange UM my voicemails are available to me right in my regular Email Inbox as well.  Bliss!

So, I have a Lync DID and a cell number, but only one voicemail (Exchange).  What if people call my cell number directly?  How can people reach me on my cell, if they don’t know the number?  Sim Ring was one way to accomplish this, but I found I always had to manage the timing of the rings, and many times I wouldn’t pick up that inbound call on my cell anyway as I was otherwise occupied.  I needed a way to selectively allow people to ring my cell – I found most of the time calls weren’t important enough for me to be interrupted.

Call Answering Rules to the Rescue

Exchange UM Call Answering Rules allow me to configure a personal message and choice of options for callers who reach my voicemail.  Instead of just leaving a message, those who call me are provided with an option to try me on my cell phone if the call is important enough.  It goes like this…

  1. Someone calls me at my Lync DID.
  2. If I don’t pick up, the user is transferred to my voicemail, which is where my Call Answering Rule kicks in.
  3. The user hears this:  “You have reached the voicemail for Mark Hickson.  To try me on my cell phone, please press 1.  To leave me a voicemail, please press #.”
  4. If the user chooses 1, one of two things happens:
    1. If the caller is outside of my organization, the caller is asked to speak their name.  Exchange records it as “Name”.
    2. If the caller is within my organization, their GAL name is used and they just go to the next step directly.
  5. The caller is asked to hold while I am tried on my cell phone.
  6. My cell phone rings and I pick it up.
  7. Exchange tells me that “Name” is trying to reach me.  I have the option of accepting the call or rejecting it.
  8. If I accept the call, I am connected to my caller without them ever having to know my cell number.
  9. If I reject the call, the user is told that I was not able to be reached (they don’t know if I just didn’t pick up or if I picked up and chose not to connect the call) and the user is given the chance to leave a voicemail.

So far this has accomplished two things:  Users are able to reach me on my cell phone without knowing the number, and urgent calls are selectively filtered from regular calls because callers have the option of trying my cell phone or not.

What about direct calls to my cell phone?

If I make an outbound call from my cell phone, the caller ID will show my cell phone number.  Only by running a client on my phone, such as Communicator Mobile,  and using the Call Via Work feature would I be able to make a call appear to people as coming from my office number.  So if someone has my cell number, won’t they just dial that?  Maybe, and I can’t stop this.

So what about voicemail?  I said earlier that my cell phone does not have voicemail service associated with it.  I simply set Call Forwarding on my cell phone to transfer unanswered calls to my Lync DID!

In this way, voicemail for all calls to me, regardless of where they target, will end up in my Exchange Inbox and, of course, on my cell phone as an item in my Inbox!  Utopia!

Sounds great!  How could it get any better!?

All of the above is accomplished with a single Call Answering Rule, but Exchange UM allows me to create many rules and with many different options!  I can have different rules applied based on the calling number, the contact’s name, the time of day, and more.

Creating a Call Answering Rule

To create a Call Answering Rule, go to Outlook Web App (this cannot be done from the Outlook rich client), click on Options, and then Phone, and then Voicemail.

This is what my rule looks like:


As you can see, you have options to set both Conditions for the rule and Actions offered to your callers..


  • If the caller is…
  • If it is during the period…
  • It my schedule shows that my status is..
  • If automatic replies are turned on… (i.e. Out of Office)


  • Find me at the following numbers…
  • Transfer the caller to…

So multiple scenarios can be handled with many different conditions.  For example, during business hours callers are provided with options to transfer to my Assistant, the Operator, or my cell.  But at all times of day, my wife is given the option to try my cell phone.  The possibilities are endless!

So give it a try if you have Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging, and if you don’t, go get it!  Note that you do not need Lync Server 2010 for this – Lync just happens to be my PBX.  Lucky me!


Be sure to set the Dialing Rule Groups and Dialing Restrictions on your UM Dial Plan and UM Mailbox Policy such that your cell, or other numbers, can be dialed.  These are the same rules required to enable the Play on Phone feature for voicemails.

More details on Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging Call Answering Rules can be found at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lync Server 2010 Audio Test Service

An exciting new feature in Microsoft Lync Server 2010 is the Audio Test Service.  This built-in tool allows you to place a test call prior to making a real call, to ensure there aren’t any severe network or other issues that might affect the quality of your call.

Easy to Use

There are tools available for OCS 2007 R2, such as the Deployment Validation Tool and the VoIP Test Set, that can also help to monitor and evaluate call quality.  But these tools are unfortunately hard to deploy and manage, and so their usefulness has been diminished.

But now you can place a test call directly from the Phone tab in Lync 2010, simply by clicking on Check


This places a call into the Audio Test Service in Lync Server 2010…


You are prompted to speak a few words, and then what you said is played back to you as it was heard by the Audio Test Service.

Call with Confidence

Laptop chugging away?  Unclear how good your wireless connection really is at the hotel?  This tool can help you ensure the best possible call quality before you make that all-important customer, or otherwise, call!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top 5 New Features in Microsoft Lync 2010

There are so many new features in Lync 2010 it seems almost cruel to list just 5, but alas, here are the five I am most excited about.

1.  No more Live Meeting client

I have nothing against the Live Meeting client – I think it’s intuitive and powerful, and being able to use the single client for both on-premise OCS conferences and Live Meeting hosted conferences is fantastic.

Having to switch between two applications that were obviously not built with the other in mind is troublesome, however.  Users have to remember and understand which application should be used for what purpose.  And managing the different ports and protocols is non-trivial.

Alas with Lync we have one unified client – Microsoft Lync 2010.  Escalating from an Instant Message conversation, to a Video Call, and to Desktop Sharing is not new, but being able to also upload and share PowerPoint presentations, whiteboards, and polling pages with annotation tools is and very easy to use and understand.

Scheduling a conference?  Easier than ever, and no need to decide between a Conference Call or a Live Meeting – everything is an Online Meeting with various modalities available to participants.

I can’t keep the smile off my face!  :-)


2.  New cost-effective IP phones

One of the biggest barriers to adoption of OCS for telephony has been people’s hesitation in linking their phone availability to that of the PC.  “My phone must be available, even when I’m not signed in to my PC,” is often heard. Also, “my phone is unavailable if my PC crashes.”

While I can argue that you’d be hard-pressed to find any information worker who sits at a desk without being signed in to a PC, and also count on 1 hand the number of times my PC has crashed in the past 3 years, the solution to this dilemma is a dedicated IP phone.  Unfortunately with OCS there is only one supported device, codenamed Tanjay.  This device is $600+ and thus the uptake has been minimal.

Enter new IP phones from Aastra and Polycom at the $200-300 price point, including servicing new scenarios such as conference phones and common-area phones.

The Information Worker models (Aastra 6725ip and Polycom CX600, cx600_NoLogospictured here) are always-on phones that also include the ability to connect to your PC via a USB cable to enable features such as click-to-call.  It really is the best possible UC phone experience, and at a price that organizations can more than justify.

3.  Branch survivability

Another barrier to adoption of OCS for telephony has been the lack of branch survivability – branch offices are reliant on the core OCS pool in the head office or datacenter; if the WAN link goes down the branch office loses phone service.

With Lync 2010 comes the introduction of the Survivable Branch  imageAppliance which enables phone service to continue in branch offices in cases where the WAN link is unavailable.  Calls between users in the branch still stay on the local LAN; calls to other company locations and external parties use the PSTN.

This simplifies multi-site architectures and provides a more robust telephony solution with Lync 2010.

4.  Virtualization and Fewer Servers

“Too many servers!”  This is a very common complaint with OCS.  There is not enough support for collocation and adding resilience to your deployment is a very costly endeavor.  Similarly, minimal support for virtualization in OCS (only IM and Presence is supported, effectively rendering this support useless) has gone against the grain for organizations implementing virtualization strategies.

Now with Lync 2010 all workloads are supported for virtualizimageation  including voice and video.  There are many topology choices for what is physical and what is virtual, which should give organizations the flexibility they have been looking for.

And more server roles are supported for collocation, including the Mediation Server being collocated on the Front End server.

5.  Enhanced Office and SharePoint integration

Integration of presence and related features within the Office suite of products and SharePoint has been a big reason why OCS has gained the market share it has thus far.  No other UC applications can claim as tight an integration with the business applications used by most organizations – namely, Office.

Lync 2010 adds Quick Contacts to Outlook 2010 (pictured here), Office imageBackstage integration, shared contacts, and SharePoint skills search.

A redesigned and more powerful Contact Card, coupled with contact photos which come from SharePoint My Sites, all add to the experience and enable users to find the right person at the right time.

I have been a strong advocate for OCS since the beginning, and there are many amazing stories to tell where organizations have reduced costs and improved productivity.  Microsoft has caused a massive shift in the UC market, and Lync will surely help keep them planted firmly in the leader position!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Microsoft UC Cost-Savings Calculator

In today’s economy, IT budgets continue to shrink, and organizations are having to look closely at every project to ensure it makes sense for their business.

There exists a much broader UC Business Value Assessment that Voice Partners such as Navantis can offer, but to get a quick sense of potential savings, you can use this…


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging Availability Quick Reference

How does Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging respond to certain outage scenarios? Here’s a quick look, but be sure to click the link at the bottom for the full details…

Mailbox Server Unavailable

If a Mailbox server for a user is unavailable, the UM server will continue to accept calls on behalf of the user. But the user's custom greeting won't be played. Instead, a standard greeting will be used for calls to that user

Hub Transport Server Unavailable

If the Hub Transport server is unavailable, the UM server will continue to accept calls and queue the calls, depending on how you've set up the queuing limit, until the Hub Transport server is available.

Domain Controllers Unavailable

In a situation where all domain controllers are unavailable, the UM server will be unable to accept calls.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Clickable Phone Numbers

Now that we have the ability to click-to-call with Office Communicator, it’s natural that we come to expect to be able to click phone numbers wherever we see them!

Just like web links and email links in the past, what we really need is a ubiquitous way to identify phone numbers and make them clickable…

tel: to the Rescue

In Windows, where http: makes a web link clickable, and mailto: makes an email address clickable, tel: makes a phone number clickable.

So looking at my screenshot below, the first number is just text, the second number has “tel:” in front of it so is now clickable, and the third has the visible text different from the hyperlink value – so the user doesn’t see the “tel”.


The conversation window is what came up when I clicked on the link.  It gives you the second chance to actually dial, because as I’ve shown, the visible text can be different from the actual hyperlink text.  The number could show 905… but really be 900!

Applications can render their phone numbers this way, so that the consuming application, in this case Outlook on Windows, can display the number as clickable.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top 5 Reasons or Motivations for choosing Microsoft Unified Communications

In no particular order…


  • The company wishes to save monthly costs for third-party audio (i.e. Telus or Bell) and web (i.e. WebEx) conferencing
  • The company wishes to reduce travel, but is concerned about sacrificing the quality of in-person meetings
  • The company wants to empower their users to collaborate more effectively by removing barriers, and providing an easy-to-use and robust collaboration infrastructure

Remote Access

  • The company has a lot of remote users and they need access to communications tools while outside the office and away from their desk, including full telephony, without the need for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection


  • The company is challenged with inefficient communications and the inability to reach the right person at the right time
  • Providing access to a person’s willingness and availability to communicate overcomes these challenges and increases the efficiency of communications in the organization

Extend the life of existing PBX

  • The company needs to add some phones, but the cost of doing so is prohibitive (new line cards, sets, licenses, etc.)
  • The company instead can tie into an OCS deployment via SIP or TDM and a gateway, and light up phone users off the new OCS platform
  • This could serve as a slow transition to an eventual full OCS telephony deployment, but it doesn’t need to – this company is by this point enjoying Instant Messaging, Presence, and Conferencing from OCS!

Exchange Voicemail

  • The company is paying high maintenance costs for its legacy voicemail system which requires separate management skills to administer and support it
  • The company is already enjoying email in Exchange Server
  • The company can decommission its legacy voicemail system and enjoy Unified Messaging for all users, with a single directory, management, and security infrastructure!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Restricting called numbers in OCS Enterprise Voice

When configuring a route for Enterprise Voice, you want to match long distance numbers but you do not want to match high-risk numbers, such as 900 and 976.

How do you do that in a regular expression?

It looks like this...


This expression is allowing +411 or +1 XXX YYY ZZZZ, but not any number where XXX is 900, or 976, or 242 ... you get the idea. 

Incidentally, the XXX set above is a comprehensive list you can use in your dial plans as a best practice.

So the basic syntax for "except" is ?!().  Anything in the brackets will be excluded in the match processing.

IM/Presence in Office? Be sure to buy the right version!

It recently came to my attention that in order to enjoy Presence and Instant Messaging from within Office applications such as Outlook, you must be running the Professional version of the Office Suite.  Even if you have Office Communicator and Office Communications Server deployed!

It’s all outlined in the comparison of server integration features between Office suites available through volume licensing:

Unified instant messaging, presence, and voice
Easily communicate with others in different locations or time zones using familiar Office tools. Communicator and Office Communications Server operate with popular Office programs to provide a range of different communication options, including instant messaging (IM), phone, and voice, video, or Web conferencing.

Office Standard

Office Professional Plus

See the availability of others—via author indicators when co-authoring to the address field when composing an e-mail—from directly within Office applications through Office Communications Server.
Initiate IM and voice directly from Office applications, through integration with Office Communications Server. Point to an author’s or manager’s name in File Properties—available from the Info tab in Backstage view—to surface a contact card and initiate a voice or IM conversation.
Record and listen to name pronunciation recordings wherever presence is found with the new contact card, which includes a recording tied to the user's voice-mail box for name pronunciation.
Have IT staff configure MailTips to give users of Outlook 2010 and Exchange Server 2010 important information before they click Send to avoid distributing messages to inappropriate recipients. For example, users can be notified that they are about to send a message outside the organization or are using Reply All.
Take advantage of voice-mail transcripts that are now sent directly to a user's inbox along with the recording. The Microsoft's voice-to-text engine automatically transcribes a text preview of recorded messages.




I’ve been fortunate enough to have been running the Professional version for so long that this hasn’t come up for me, so I thought perhaps others might benefit from the information as well.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Synchronizing a SharePoint 2007 Document Library with SharePoint Workspace 2010

Synchronizing SharePoint Document Libraries is a great way to enable both offline access and redundancy.  I don’t need to worry about accessing my files while offline, and I also sleep easy knowing there are two copies of my data, both of which are easy for me to access (as opposed to trying to get a tape backup, for instance).

I recently tried to synchronize a SharePoint 2007 Document Library using SharePoint Workspace 2010 (formerly Groove).  This was not allowed, however.  I received the message below:


Yikes!  I have to wait until SharePoint 2010 is deployed before I can benefit from this?  Do I have to find the Groove 2007 install bits and try to revert back?

The answer is, thankfully, no.  The way to get around this is to create a Groove Workspace instead…


… and pick 2007 as the Workspace version (I have not confirmed if 2010 will also work) …


… then use the SharePoint Files tool …


… to point to a library on the server (Click the Setup button and enter the URL to your Document Library) …


I can sleep easy again!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A New Beginning


With much excitement and anticipation, I recently started working at Navantis, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner based in Toronto.  My role is Unified Communications Consultant, and I will be assisting the sales team in helping to articulate the value of Microsoft Unified Communications to customers, and to help merge solution features with requirements to positively transform customers’ businesses.

Navantis is the result of two great, historic Microsoft partners coming together: Navantis Inc. (Canada's leading application platform Microsoft partner) and LegendCorp (Canada's top Microsoft enterprise infrastructure boutique). Together, Navantis is Canada's proven one-stop-shop for Microsoft enterprise needs.

With offices in North America and South Asia, Navantis has helped drive business value for leading blue chip companies and government organizations for over a decade.

Much of my excitement to join the Navantis team is based on the fact that not only do we hold the Unified Communications Competency within the Microsoft Partner Program, but also the following 13 (!) others:

Business Intelligence

Content Management

Customer Relationship Management


Identity and Security


Portals and Collaboration


Server Platform

Small Business Specialist Community

Software Development

Systems Management

Web Development

Our ability to service our customers across the entire Microsoft stack truly sets apart, and being able to design, architect, and deliver Communications Enabled Business Processes allows our customers to realize the promise of business transformation via Unified Communications solutions.

Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Microsoft updates RCC supportability statement

In the document outlining supportability between Cisco and Microsoft, including:

  • Direct SIP Interoperability
  • Cisco UC Integration for Microsoft Office Communicator
  • Remote Call Control

…there has been a recent adjustment.  Previously, Remote Call Control (RCC) was only to supported for existing customers in the next version of Communications Server.  But the document has been updated to include new customers as well.

It only goes so far as to say it is supported for the next version – Communications Server “14”.

I see this more as a concession that customers need a bit more time to move away from their standard desk phones, and not as an indication of a go-forward plan to always include and support the RCC scenario.

RCC is a key component to help in the early adoption of Microsoft UC, but it represents a model that is completely counter to Microsoft’s PC-centric communications model, and I would be surprised if support remains in the next version of Communications Server.

Alas, for now this is a good sign, I think, that will only help in removing barriers in adoption of Microsoft’s communications and collaborations vision.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF)

Recently announced is the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF).

According to their website:

The UCIF’s vision is to enable interoperability of UC hardware and software across enterprises, service providers, and consumer clouds, as a means of protecting customer’s existing investments, simplifying their transition to more extended UC networks, and generating incremental business opportunity for all stakeholders in the ecosystem.

This is a very good thing, as interoperability is a key issue for customers looking to adopt Unified Communications in their organizations.

Customers are asking:

  • How can they leverage existing investments?
  • How can they communicate effectively with business partners and customers?
  • How can they ensure their architecture and product selections don’t paint themselves into any corners?

The members of UCIF “will collaborate to ensure products and solutions from different manufacturers and service providers will work together, enabling more choice in the supply chain and better user experiences.”

I can’t wait to see where this goes, and how quickly we start to see everybody playing nicely for the greater good.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The power of IT reaches far beyond the technology itself

Recently I spent some time reviewing Microsoft’s materials on Business Productivity Infrastructure, and I came across this statement:

IT averages only about 5% of the total cost in a business. Shrinking IT costs by 50% will generate fewer savings than cutting business operations costs by 3%. Thus, IT leaders may help a firm weather a recession better by increasing the efficiency of business processes than by cutting IT spending.

Quite compelling when you consider that most organizations and IT leaders are currently focusing on IT cost-reductions, and not engaging in discussions with Vendors Systems Integrators to explore opportunities to increase the efficiency of existing business processes.

A brief conversation with me, for example, would reveal to an organization that:

  • Enabling efficient communications and anywhere access to people and information for employees will reduce sales cycles and help projects complete faster
  • Consolidating voicemail platforms, and leveraging existing investments, will not only save money but help users manage message overload
  • Bringing conferencing services in-house, and extending video conferencing to the desktop, will save money and enhance collaboration within the organization and among business partners

Each of the above scenarios directly affect business outcomes, and each would contribute to the desired business operation efficiencies that have a greater effect on an organization’s bottom line then a reduction in IT spending.

Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Can't leave voicemail - Early Dialog Terminated SIP message


  • PSTN (T1 PRI) — CUCM 7 – Dialogic 2030 IP-to-IP GW – OCS 2007 R2


  • Some calls to cell phones from OCS would terminate unexpectedly either while leaving a voicemail or before the greeting finished playing.
  • Calls to cell phones in the West and East exhibited this behaviour, but calls to cell phones in Montreal didn’t seem to.
  • One user said he had this problem calling the US and the Niagara area, too.
  • The same call made from a Cisco phone would be fine.
  • The OCS error logs show the SIP message 199 Early Dialog Terminated.


  • Changed the TCP Inactivity Timer on the Dialogic GW from default 30 s to 90 s.
  • Test to cell in the East was successful.
  • Also verified that cell vs. home phone is not relevant, and call connect time is in play
    • Changed the number of rings on a home phone, before voicemail pickup, to 6 (cell phone had a lot of rings before pickup, too) and the same behaviour was seen

Below is text from trace on MOC log file:

04/20/201015:02:36.547 1784:8D0 INFO :: Data Received - (To Local Address: 726 bytes:
04/20/201015:02:36.547 1784:8D0 INFO :: SIP/2.0 199 Early Dialog Terminated
Proxy-Authentication-Info: Kerberos rspauth="602306092A864886F71201020201011100FFFFFFFF4147CAB224E8230B8A11DD2DC5ADE3B1", srand="F7B56919", snum="1584", opaque="35F8D7D2", qop="auth", targetname="sip/", realm="SIP Communications Service"
Content-Length: 0
Via: SIP/2.0/TLS;ms-received-port=49856;ms-received-cid=47E600
From: "First Last";tag=61e9453d78;epid=d2b3504585
Call-ID: 06cd7690782c4d27ad5c3d92646b08b3
To: ;tag=fed66b776
Server: Office Communications Server 2007 R2 3.5.6907.0)
04/20/201015:02:36.547 1784:8D0 INFO :: End of Data Received - (To Local Address: 726 bytes

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging Whitepaper

Voicemail is a relatively mature technology. It is so thoroughly established in users’ daily workflows that it has become practically invisible to the organization except as an ongoing expense. Because of their origins in telephony, voicemail systems tend to exist in their own silos, managed separately from other IT systems in general, and business messaging in particular. Many fail to provide the features and ease of use that users have come to expect from other types of messaging.

Yet voicemail is a critical communication tool for most workers. Given the right strategy, it can go from a basic service to a productivity-enhancing tool. One way to do this is to treat voicemail as just one more messaging modality. It is then possible to manage it using the same tools administrators and users know from email. A universal inbox is also the foundation for delivering advanced voicemail features across devices and platforms. Microsoft calls this capability Unified Messaging. Microsoft® Exchange Server is the key technology that enables it. The newest release, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, delivers voicemail functionality engineered from the ground up to improve productivity while helping you reduce the cost and complexity of your voicemail system.

Sending Screenshots in Outlook 2010

Wow, wow, and wow.  When composing an email, click Insert and ScreenShot.  You are presented with a ready-to-go list of open screens to choose from, or you can take a Screen Clipping.


Future Licensing Changes to Microsoft Office Communications Server

With the future launch of Office Communications Server wave 14, access to the voice workload will be licensed via its own Client Access License (“OCS Voice CAL”).  Some of the voice specific capabilities will be removed from the OCS wave 14 Enterprise CAL and combined with new voice features/functionality in this new OCS Voice CAL. Beyond wave 14 the new OCS Voice CAL will include many new voice capabilities to provide Enterprise Ready Voice. The OCS wave 14 Voice CAL will be an additive CAL on top of the OCS wave 14 Standard CAL. Customers will have the option to license the OCS wave 14 Enterprise CAL and OCS wave 14 Voice CAL separately or together.

The OCS Voice CAL and associated voice functionality will not be included within the Enterprise CAL Suite (ECAL Suite) when OCS wave 14 launches. The OCS wave 14 Enterprise CAL will undergo a price decrease to reflect the move of voice functionality to the OCS Voice CAL

Customers who purchase the OCS Enterprise CAL or ECAL Suite between July 1, 2009 but before the release of OCS wave 14 and maintain their Software Assurance will have access rights equivalent to the rights under the OCS Voice CAL for the OCS wave 14 release. Customers will need to separately renew the OCS Voice CAL Software Assurance at their first renewal period post OCS 14 launch if they choose to keep the OCS 14 Voice CAL Software Assurance benefits. 

Customers who purchased an OCS Enterprise CAL or the ECAL Suite prior to July 1, 2009 and have maintained their Software Assurance have access rights equivalent to the rights under the OCS Voice CAL for two releases, OCS wave 14 and OCS wave 15. Customers need to separately renew the OCS Voice CAL Software Assurance at their first renewal period post the OCS wave 15 release in order to maintain Software Assurance benefits. This grandfathering policy is designed to address customer concerns about the transition and provide sufficient time for deployment and budgeting, enabling us to maintain high satisfaction among our customers

Customers who do not have Software Assurance, or do not maintain Software Assurance on their OCS Enterprise CAL or the ECAL Suite will not be qualified for either grandfathering offer and will be required to purchase the OCS Voice CAL when released to acquire the future voice functionality.

To iPhone or not to iPhone

I recently had the opportunity, and desire, to play a little with the iPhone.  I am perhaps the last human in the world who has done so, but I digress.

My brief 5 minutes with the device were extremely enjoyable.  The rich display, ease of use, and enterprise telephony integration (via Cisco) were all very impressive.  And apart of my realization that the phone isn’t as big or as heavy as I thought it was, it’s the enterprise integration piece that really got me thinking…

Is it inevitable that I will have an iPhone as a business device?

I currently lead the Microsoft Unified Communications practice at UNIS LUMIN.  We are a Systems Integrator based just outside of Toronto, with offices across Canada.  Our company, like 99.9999% of all others, has standardized on the Blackberry.  In my position, however, I felt it important to have and use a Windows Mobile device.  I use the HTC Touch Diamond with Bell.

Initially my rationale was that I needed to install and configure and troubleshoot and use the Communicator Mobile client, enabling me to speak about it to customers and help them with their deployments.  But that’s where things break down – there haven’t been any customers who deploy the mobile client.

When I demo the presence, IM, Single Number Reach, and Outlook integration features on my phone it is always met with a standing ovation, followed immediately by this question:

Can I have that on my Blackberry?

Increasingly the same is question is being asked about the iPhone.  Now, while RIM provides some support for IM and Presence, and you can get the same via third-party apps on the iPhone, this integration is not in Microsoft’s best interest - Windows Mobile is, and will always be, the best experience for Communicator Mobile.

And that’s the problem – if Windows Mobile isn’t in the Enterprise, does it really matter how good the solution and integration is?  In the end it comes down to “Can Microsoft make headway into the Enterprise with Windows Mobile?”  Windows Phone 7 is promising, and my plan is to hold on until the end of year, get my hands on a nifty Windows Phone 7 device and all will be well with the world.

But here is where things get tricky.

Suppose I do wait.  Suppose I love Windows Phone 7.  Suppose it really does sit on par with Blackberry and iPhone as a viable enterprise-ready Smartphone.  If nobody uses it it doesn’t matter.

So it really is up to Microsoft to make a phone that can indeed compete, and to succeed in getting it into the enterprise in a meaningful way.  How do they do that?  Kids!

The notion of the “Consumerization of IT” is a hot topic right now, with the younger workforce’s experience with and expectation of IM and presence in the enterprise leading the way for social networking and all kinds of Smartphones.

Alas, whichever Smartphone the kids want is what will make it in the Enterprise.  The device needs to meet certain minimum requirements for the enterprise, of course, but this is happening quickly and it’s only a matter of time before mass adoption.

So after all this the question remains … to iPhone or not to iPhone?