Interoperability (sometimes also shortened to just “interop”) is a topic that the Lync team pays a lot of attention to. And interop isn’t just a focus for us—it has been a huge topic in the unified communications industry as well. At the Enterprise Connect conference in March and the Lync sessions at TechED North America last week we featured a bunch of content devoted to interoperability (you can watch sessions from previous TechEDs here: https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd).
Another example of the Lync team’s focus on interop is through our participation in industry forums, such as the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF), which is celebrating its one-year anniversary today (http://uciforum.wordpress.com/) . You can learn more about the alliance by visiting (http://www.ucif.org/), but this moment in time has put me in a reflective mood and I wanted to share a couple of thoughts.
Lync was purposely designed to be interoperable; we designed Lync around ensuring customers have a great experience using what they have today and what they’ll buy in the future—this happened through a number of different efforts:
• The Office Protocol Documentation (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc307432(v=office.12).aspx) , which provides wire-level detailed technical specifications for Microsoft proprietary protocols and extensions to industry-standard protocols used by Office
• The UC Open Interoperability Program (http://technet.microsoft.com/UCOIP), where we test and qualify third party infrastructures with Exchange and Lync Servers
• Programs we run for endpoint devices such as for phones and video conferencing equipment that all interoperate and connect with Lync
With UCIF, it’s a longer-term horizon, but the opportunity is so much greater. We believe in the vision of the forum, which is why Microsoft employees are either participating in or leading study/work groups, in addition to Microsoft employee Bernard Aboba’s role as President of the board. As our vision for what UCIF can accomplish continues to grow, so does our participation and excitement. There are some really big issues out there that nobody alone will be able to tackle – crossing languages, protocols, codecs and signaling. How do you have left-to-right and right-to-left IM with different character sets work together well? Handling these issues elegantly will benefit the whole market, not just for vendors, but for our customers and partners to be able to get maximum utility out of our collective offerings.
Together, we can do so much more than working independently and apart. So congratulations to UCIF – we at Microsoft, and particularly in the Lync team, look forward to helping the growth and depth get better and better.