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Microsoft OCS and Telephony: Please Don't Shoot the Messenger (Again)

Last time I checked the Office Communications Server documentation, basic core telephony were in no way lacking from the software. Though typically deployed as an adjunct to a PBX, OCS can just as easily be set up as a standalone voice platform. In such a scenario, OCS provides call control, allowing users to make and receive calls without connecting to a PBX. Users can also put calls on hold, forward them, and set up audio conferences. Phones - of both the deskset and soft phone variety - are connected directly to OCS. There's some basic IVR-like capabilities courtesy of Speech Server. DTMF tones can be generated. Voice mail and auto attendant software is available from Exchange 2007. A third-party media gateway provides connectivity to the PSTN.

To be honest, this is not the most impressive of feature lists, particularly when compared with the hundreds of really snazzy voice features available on your run-of-the-mill PBX. But - maintaining this theme of honesty - these are in fact core telephony functions. So if you ask me, the problem is not that Microsoft's unified communications solution lacks the most basic core telephony functions. The problem is that basic telephony functions are all that OCS can presently provide, at least when it comes to voice features. Until Microsoft can provide more than these most basic of telephony functions, businesses will not take OCS seriously as an alternative to a traditional PBX. I fully expect this to change going forward ... and, frankly, so should you. Just please don't shoot the messenger.