Microsoft Lync: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
Lync: NoBy Matt Brunk
Microsoft Lync is a "billion dollar" revenue creation opportunity that started with Microsoft not wanting to buy into someone else’s proprietary offering (the PBX).
Microsoft pitches Lync as a real-time tool that significantly improves and redefines enterprise communications to unify messages that just flood workers with more messages, options and programming decisions. Always-on real time communications is hard to maintain.
These four arguments should make it clear how Microsoft and their partners plan to make the most of their revenue opportunity.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Lync talks of initial reasonable software licensing, qualified SIP phones, products and gateways up until the point of licensing. Microsoft doesn’t make it easy to license and they leave out the finer points of interoperability. Customers connecting with Lync end up without fluid interoperability with other corporate assets. Once Lync is running in the data center, maintenance complexity results in higher costs to preserve software assets. While attempting to maintain high-availability demands, an erosion of benefits occurs from higher costs and from unforeseen service disruptions and downtime. Lingering doubt remains about how secure Microsoft is or isn’t simply based upon past experience.
"Microsoft Qualified" is not the same as "industry standard." Available desk phones lack ergonomics and functionality for effective enterprise call handling. This hidden cost to Lync results as companies vie to connect office employees to a singular computing device. Mishandling of calls will happen over time. Declaring desktop phones ancient technology doesn’t change the conservative nature of telephony. Lync is a purchase of buying less, getting less and ignoring practical functional features.
Lync offers no wireless or low-cost common-area phones and only a handful of IP phones, which cost the same as those in PBX solutions. Lync requires Exchange--and is the only phone system that requires a specific messaging server. Lync requires more servers and middleware.
Users say repeatedly, "I just want to make a call." Microsoft jams the desktop interface in a way that doesn't necessarily equate to simplification or enhancing user experience. Explore any UC interface and customers will find some just too much to manage. In Lync's case what are the new features? Web-interface dependency for quality experience isn't what I'd call reasonably setting expectations. Everyone knows computers will go down but everyone still expects communications with high availability.
Lync includes presence and IM as a proprietary Microsoft solution. Plenty of presence and IM solutions are available--some free, and some already implemented (see Ezuce). Why lock into a new unproven proprietary solution with so many best of breed alternatives available? How many MCEs does it take to make a phone call?
Next: Brunk on Hardware Compatibility and High Availability