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Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is the Program Co-Chair of the Enterprise Connect events, helping to set program content and direction for the...
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Eric Krapf | July 13, 2010 |

 
   

OCS App Store: Could This Be the Formula for Unified Communications?

OCS App Store: Could This Be the Formula for Unified Communications? A channel partner says it'll hang out a shingle for OCS/CS 14 apps. Will this be the new way of communications-equipping your workforce?

A channel partner says it'll hang out a shingle for OCS/CS 14 apps. Will this be the new way of communications-equipping your workforce?

A Brian Riggs tweet led me to this post on The VAR Guy about a company called Evangelyze Communications that's about to launch what they're calling an App Store for Microsoft OCS/CS 14.

The way the VAR Guy describes it, this has all the elements that everyone talked about when Microsoft jumped with both feet into the communications market and started talking about software and prices for systems being cut in half. The idea was that enterprises would have more choice and flexibility in communications capabilities, and vendors would make a killing by selling software instead of hardware.

According to the VAR Guy post, Evangelyze nets 80% margins on some of the software it already sells as a Microsoft channel partner, which is the kind of thing everybody had in mind when they started talking about the transformation of communications from hardware to software.

The devil's going to be in the details with this "App Store" for OCS/CS 14, though. There are 2 key differences that I can think of between the Evangelyze/OCS model and the most famous AppStore, Apple's:

* The OCS/CS 14 app store would apparently be overseen and driven by a Microsoft channel partner, rather than the platform vendor itself.

* The target audience is enterprise users rather than consumers.

To get a good sense of the pitfalls of the app store model, check out this article from Info World's Developer World site. The author discusses the app store model, relying to a great extent on concepts from Forrester, which calls this model "curated computing." The article mainly focuses on the Apple app store, so many of the concerns may or may not wind up applying to OCS/CS 14 with an app store run by a channel partner. Still, the article's focus on disincentives to the developer in participating in an app store are worth paying attention to.

On the other hand, a lot of the objections raised to the app store models are clearly in the context of a consumer market--one where developers might reasonably expect more freedom (and thus be disappointed when the app store imposes unreasonable constraints).

Compare this with the enterprise market, where customers have traditionally not had particularly high expectations for flexibility and choice. In the enterprise market, the kind of constraints that are a hindrance in the consumer market might not seem quite so burdensome, given the history of the enterprise communications environment.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the prospective OCS/CS 14 app store. It's appealing on a lot of levels: The idea that you can get platform-compatible apps for whatever form factor your users employ as endpoints; and thereby give users more freedom to choose their communications profile--is really appealing. This is a development worth watching.

And while we're on the subject of OCS/CS 14, I have to once again urge you to read Brent Kelly's extensive, in-depth feature with details on the new CS 14 release. Check it out here.



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