Lync Conference 2014: Case Studies Tell the Story Best
At this year's Lync Conference, deep-dive sessions featuring deployment case studies proved valuable.
Eric Krapf has already done a great job detailing the news announced during the Lync Conference Keynote in his post, Building Toward Universal Communications. This piece will focus on what happened over the rest of the conference, in some of the 75-minute sessions I attended. With 170 session choices this year versus 60 for the inaugural Lync Conference in 2013, choosing which presentations to attend was challenging. I found myself drawn to those that did a deep dive on a specific company's Lync implementation, and I was not disappointed.
A Cargill representative detailed a global implementation of 69,000 users across North and Latin America, EMEA and Asia Pacific. Described as having full high-availability and disaster recovery functionality, the infrastructure to support this includes 52 servers with 100% dedication to Lync, 42 physical servers and 10 virtual ones. For the most part, this supports collaboration functionality.
Cargill is just beginning a journey to replace voice PBXs with Lync. Initially, they are focusing on locations with fewer than 25 users. One of the first pilots was an 80-user location that proactively asked corporate IT for Lync Voice. Because it was larger than they wanted to support, Cargill IT moved 20 users to Lync and kept the remaining 60 on its legacy Avaya system. Over time, they'll move the remaining users to Lync Voice. The goal is to be able to ship the required components to a location and allow local personnel to get Lync up and running--removing the need to send an IT professional for the implementation.
Cargill ended with a slide entitled, "Why Were We a Success?" The answer? "We hit the 'I believe button,' got behind the product with good internal communications and marketing of what we were doing." The message was that going in with a good mental model--that the deployment will be successful--made all the difference.
The second Lync deployment story session I attended was delivered by representatives of Tampa General Hospital. They opened by saying as recently as three years ago, the hospital was in the "IT Stone Age." This was defined as being dependent on a mainframe and using Lotus Notes, Sametime, WebEx and BlackBerrys. Three years ago, the hospital replaced Sametime with Microsoft OCS for IM and presence and moved to iPhones and iPads. Two years ago, they moved to Lync for not just IM and presence, but audio and video conferencing as well, decommissioning WebEx.
Up next for Tampa General Hospital is a project to decommission the 3,000 pagers that continue to be used. A pilot program has replaced the functionality for some facilities workers with 5th-generation, front-facing microphone iPod Touch devices.
With Lync Mobile, Enterprise Voice and Office 365 Email loaded on the iPod touch devices, as well as a ticketing application, workers can not only respond to requests throughout the hospital, but also take pictures of problems and communicate via phone when necessary. Voice is over Wi-Fi, so no cell phone plan is required.
The rooms where the Cargill and Tampa General Hospital sessions were delivered were full of like-minded Lync users at different phases of deployment. During and after the sessions, fellow users asked practical questions about their own deployments, often geared toward how to expand the Lync application footprint. The expansions might take the form of Enterprise Voice, cloud-based deployment or video, and often included integration with a third-party application. In these sessions, it was clearer than ever to see why Microsoft reports Lync has grown double-digits for the last 38 consecutive quarters.