VoiceCon This Year

My colleague BJ Haberkorn wrote a really nice blog
post about looking forward to VoiceCon Orlando 2010. I wanted to share it with
you all since it captures all the things that has kept our team busy
from keynotes - event - case studies - virtual launches - strategic initiatives
- and all the news and reviews.

Forward to VoiceCon Orlando 2010

I can't believe that VoiceCon is already here
again.  It seems like yesterday that Gurdeep
Singh Pall
was on stage encouraging people to compare the relative value of
a $300 IP PBX phone that lets people make phone calls from their desks, and a
$300 laptop that provides those same people with voice, video, instant
messaging, presence, and conferencing nearly anyplace with Internet

On the other hand, it may seem like another life to
those many customers that adopted Office Communications Server and transformed
both how and where their people work.   We often highlight customer
successes, and I particularly like Dimension
Data's story
.  Dimension Data wanted to change their culture, and help
people communicate using tools other than the telephone and the business trip. 
They chose Office Communications Server after testing and piloting offerings
from multiple vendors.   What were the results?  49% reduction
in travel costs.  Lower conferencing costs.  Enriched communications. 
Better work-life balance.  Similar results are reflected in other case

There has been lots of Microsoft and partner news
as well.  In April, we announced the availability of SharePoint Online,
Exchange Online, and Office Communications Online in 19 countries.   In
May, HP and Microsoft announced a strategic
to deliver end to end communications and collaboration.  In
October, we released XMPP capability and simplified our connectivity to public
internet messaging services such as AOL and Windows Live.  One thing we
didn't mention in the related PressPass
was that, at that time, Microsoft was federated with roughly
1000 organizations, and our customers with uncounted others.   Our
federation capability was first released in 2004, and allows encrypted voice,
video, IM, presence and application content to be carried in real time over the
Internet between different organizations.

We publicly unveiled SharePoint
at the SharePoint Conference (SPC) in October, and followed that with
the launch of Exchange 2010
at TechEd Europe in November
.  The "virtual launch experience" is
fantastic, the reviews
have been great, and customers
are taking advantage of the new capabilities.  In fact,
Julia White, Director of Exchange Product Management, used a number of customer
examples in her New Year's Top
Ten list
.  It's an excellent post, and capped an exciting year.

Back to the present.  At VoiceCon next week,
we'll have a few familiar elements, and at least one that is out of the
ordinary.  First, the familiar.  We have a spot on the show floor and
a separate area where we can meet privately with customers, and, of course,
Gurdeep will present a keynote on Wednesday.  His keynote is always a
highlight of the show for me.

Another highlight for us this year is Allan
Sulkin's annual IP PBX RFP session.  Why would Microsoft participate in an
IP PBX session when Office Communications Server offers much more than voice?  Simply
put, we wanted to make it easy for telephony and unified communications
professionals to compare our voice capabilities to the solutions they've
traditionally purchased.  We provided a full written response to the RFP
based on Microsoft software plus partner infrastructure, endpoints, and
services, and I will personally participate on Allan's vendor panel.  Come
to Allan's session if you're at VoiceCon, or visit the Communications Server
web page to download our response once the show is over.

In addition, we're participating in the UC
Executive Forum and the Communications Architecture plenary sessions on Monday
and several breakouts throughout the week.  My colleague, Jamie Stark,
will join the "Comparing UC Options:  Who's Offering What?" and
the "Marrying Social Networking and Enterprise Communications"
sessions, and our colleague Albert Kooiman will present in "Deep Dive -
Implementation Options:   Unified Communications", "How
Much Voice Mail do you really need?", and "Presence:   Preferences
and Rules Drive Communications Effectiveness." 

An open question is whether we'll be able to
address a challenge that's been growing since we released the first version of
Office Communications Server in 2007.  During the last three years,
literally thousands of customers have deployed our product and, as a result,
many have PBX and IP PBX phones they no longer need.  What can they do
with all those phones?  Some are sold on the gray market and re-used,
which is environmentally friendly and greatly improves the PBX phone purchase
economics for the buyer.  But we aren't sure if demand can keep up with
supply.  For this reason, we tried to find an alternate use for a few of
the phones displaced by Office Communications Server deployments.  I feel
pretty good about where we landed. 

Come visit us on the VoiceCon floor from March 22
through March 25 and see for yourself.

- BJ Haberkorn, Communications Server Senior
Product Manager

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