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/ulocs02.domain.com", 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: http%3A%2F%2Fwww.microsoft.com%2FLCS%2FOutboundRouting(Microsoft 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?