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Middleware for Microsoft OCS and IP-PBXs?

The company today announced Covergence Call Control. As the diagram below shows, CCC is middleware that sits, well, in the middle of your communications environment and acts as a protocol translation gateway between the SIP that Microsoft OCS talks (called uaCSTA or CSTA over SIP) and the IP-PBXs, via either SIP, H.323, the CTI protocol JTAPI, or a couple other protocols.

Covergence says its solution gives Microsoft OCS users with the accompanying Communicator client the ability to control their legacy PBX telephone from the Communicator-enabled PC. It also pushes the user's own telephone presence status out to other OCS users.

One of the more interesting things about Covergence's approach is that, in addition to selling the product as licensed software, they also offer it as a subscription service. The per-user cost per month ranges from $15.55 for 250 users, to $1.95 for 50K users, and lower if you have even more than 50K.

The subscription plan could get the Covergence capability into an enterprise as a transition technology, which is where it seems to me to be best positioned. The fact that it has Web Services and Web 2.0 (i.e. Ajax) hooks lets it play multiple roles as the company is figuring out its migration strategy to Unified Communications, Communications Enabled Business Processes and Enterprise 2.0/social computing.

I think eventually enterprises are going to build their long-term solutions for these technologies around their core vendors--Microsoft/IBM, Cisco/Avaya, and also tying into their Oracle, SAP and other key business-applications platforms. But they're not there yet, and so Covergence has an opening.

Update: Here's an interesting blog post that discusses various OCS integration options.