by Rabon Bussey, Partner Technology Strategist
The Office 365 Partner Community is led by National Partner Technology Strategists from the Microsoft US Partner Team. Partner Community activities include blog posts, discussions on Yammer, newsletters, and community calls.
- Add the December 4 US Office 365 Partner Technical Community call to your calendar
- Read the US Office 365 Partner Community blog posts, including the September series about FastTrack, and the October series about Identity Integration
- Join the US Office 365 Partners Group on Yammer
- Sign up for the US Office 365 Partner newsletter
Adding Enterprise Voice to Microsoft Office 365
The question about the options for adding Enterprise Voice to Office 365 comes up quite often when customers buy the Office 365 Enterprise E4 license. In this introductory post to this month’s US Office 365 Partner Community topic, I’ll talk about the options that can help you deliver a Voice solution to customers.
In the TechNet Library, Microsoft describes Enterprise Voice (EV) this way:
“With Enterprise Voice, Lync Server delivers a stand-alone Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offering to enhance or replace traditional private branch exchange (PBX) systems. Enterprise Voice users can call colleagues on your organization’s VoIP network or PBX, and they can call traditional phone numbers outside your organization. The Enterprise Voice solution includes common calling features such as answer, forward, transfer, hold, divert, release and park, and Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) calling (E9-1-1 is available only in the United States.) Enterprise Voice also supports a broad range of current and older IP and USB devices.”
While you can do some basic PC to PC calling, and federation is very compelling, if you need to call someone who is not on Lync (for example, PSTN calling to call someone’s mobile phone), there is no real option today. At the Lync Conference 2014 in March, Microsoft announced Lync Online to PSTN calling. The slide below is from the conference keynote, which is available on demand. It indicates that there will be some form of calling to non-Lync users.
What are the options for getting EV into the solution for customers with Office 365 Enterprise E4 licenses?
In today’s market, there are three main solutions:
- Hosting Lync Voice – We have seen great growth in this area. Customers looking to outsource their “PBX” can get the same feature and function from Lync hosting as they would from deploying Lync on-premises. This is typically a partner-to-partner opportunity, as most SI’s don’t have hosted datacenters. You can learn how hosted EV works with Office 365 our deployment guide, Deploying Lync in a Multi-Forest Architecture. At TechEd Europe 2014 in October, there was a session about Multi-Forest Architecture that you can watch on demand.
- Appliance solutions – This is also a growing space, and many of our traditional vendors from SBC/Brand Office solutions are moving into this business to offer a more complete solution. Partners like Audiocodes, Sangoma, and StartReady have offerings.
- On premises – This is the traditional offering for Lync EV. Private cloud is also in this category. We see partners deploying an on-premises solution, wrapping it with a managed service offering, and giving customers a per user per month investment option. It aligns to the Operational Expense model while still allowing customers to use their existing communications investments until they depreciate out.
The Office 365 Enterprise E4 license is portable, and you can move to one of the above solutions to cover the user CALs. However, your customer may need to make an investment for the server portion of Lync and all supporting software. The appliance offers may OEM portions of the required software, and some hosting offers may provide even more of the required software. Make sure you know what is included in the offer and what additional investments may be required so that your customer is compliant. The Product Use Rights (PUR) page on the Microsoft Volume Licensing website is a good place to start.
If you are not able to provide all three of the solution options above to customers, you should consider partnering with another Microsoft partner. While it may be concerning to bring in another company to your deal, if your end game is a seat at the table while your customer is making their decisions about what solutions to purchase and implement, partnering should be part of your business model.
A survey of customers in 2013 indicated that a large percentage of them wanted to buy Unified Communications as a package. If you are selling Office 365 without considering Lync Enterprise Voice, you may be missing out on a great opportunity. And, if you are focused only on EV, you may be introducing risk into your business model. Two sessions at WPC 2014 that address the opportunity are available on demand:
- The Sole Purpose of This Session Is to Get You to Sell More Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint (Session CL546)
- The Benefits of Adding Microsoft Lync Voice to Your Portfolio (Session ES180)
In my next post in the Office 365 Community blog series, I’ll talk about how to make a business providing the Lync Voice solution. On our December 4 Office 365 Community call, we’ll go in-depth on this topic. Add the December 4 US Office 365 Partner Technical Community call to your calendar, and join the conversation in the Office 365 Partners group on Yammer, too.