Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
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Eric Krapf | March 29, 2012 |


Enterprise Connect Day 3: Microsoft Promises Skype Roadmap--Later

Enterprise Connect Day 3: Microsoft Promises Skype Roadmap--Later Kirk Koenigsbauer offered an update on Microsoft's progress in penetrating the enterprise with Lync and getting companies to upgrade IM/presence to full voice capabilities.

Kirk Koenigsbauer offered an update on Microsoft's progress in penetrating the enterprise with Lync and getting companies to upgrade IM/presence to full voice capabilities.

In the year since Kirk Koenigsbauer of Microsoft last took the keynote stage at Enterprise Connect, the big news for Microsoft in the UC space was the acquisition of Skype, a deal that closed late last year. In his keynote Wednesday, Koenigsbauer made a point of saying that while he wasn't making any specific announcements, Microsoft has every intention of integrating Skype more closely with Lync, the company's enterprise Unified Communications system. Calling the integration "a great opportunity for us," Koenigsbauer promised to "roll out the road map [for the integration] over the coming months."

Koenigsbauer's keynote was largely a progress report and an update on Microsoft's progress in penetrating the enterprise with Lync and getting companies to upgrade IM/presence implementations of Lync to full voice capabilities. He cited a figure of 70% of Fortune 500 companies using Lync, and said there are now 3 million Lync telephony users, representing 250% growth over the previous year.

As further proof points for Lync success, Koenigsbauer brought out two customers, Joe Hamblin of Sprint--a frequently-deployed reference account that is consolidating from 450 PBXs to mirrored datacenters and Lync voice--and Sandy Abrahams, CIO of Helly Hansen, a manufacturer of outdoor clothing based in Norway. Whether deliberately or inadvertently, Abrahams got in a dig at Microsoft rival Cisco, when she said Helly Hansen had decided to replace a "very very very old Cisco switch" in its Oslo location, which had become "unsupported, unsupportable." The company also had 11 Microsoft Exchange servers for email—a range of 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2010 releases, which had become "hard to maintain, an absolute mess." So they moved to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 to update the Exchange environment, which turned out to be "a savior," according to Abrahams. She also rolled out Lync, which gained immediate acceptance as the company’s messaging technology, and "Lync will form the basis of our global phone strategy" going forward.

Koenigsbauer did knock out a few demos, but like Cisco's OJ Winge the day before, they weren't necessarily meant to be mind-blowingly new and different, but more were meant to emphasize the company's interfaces now running on a range of devices with an essentially similar user interface. In Koenigsbauer's case, he showed Lync running on Windows Phone 7, an iPad, and a PC on which Lync was integrated with the full Windows suite. There was also an integration with a Polycom CX7000 room-based video system.

As light as Microsoft's demos were, Siemens Enterprise Communications’ was even lighter. As company President-North America/CMO Chris Hummel put it, "My demo is called Jerry Witowski." Witowski came out to tell a SEN customer story; he’s information systems manager at Sealed Air, a manufacturer of protecting packaging best known for being the makers of Bubble Wrap. Sealed Air's story was that they had a legacy environment and a new corporate acquisition, and so they opted for a hosted service provided by Verizon in conjunction with SEN. The cloud-based service provided the opex model, rapid deployment and flexible licensing that hosted services are being touted for, and that matched Sealed Air's requirements.

The rest of Hummel's presentation was an update on Siemens' recent successes. The company's new business was up 26% in 2011 and 57% in 1H2012; IP licenses were up 188% from 4Q2011 to 1Q2012; and for the first quarter in a decade, SEN will see revenue growth in the quarter about to conclude, he said.

And though Hummel had said he wasn't going to give a technology talk, he did present some cool technology. In the area of mobility, he presented the choice for vendors as, "Add mobile or be mobile?" Rather than just adding mobility, SEN decided to be mobile by putting mobile chipsets in their next generation of desktop phones—the idea being that every SEN endpoint should essentially be a mobile platform, whether it lives on a desktop or a wireless device.

For video, Hummel reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a device roughly the size and shape of a biscotti or harmonica. This, he informed the crowd, was a soon-to-be-launched video endpoint for deployment on top of a monitor. The device will be brought to market in about 90 days, and fills the gap between webcams and room systems, he said.

So with some cool technologies and customer successes, SEN may be well positioned to overcome its traditional weak spot—marketing. Hummel himself acknowledged that "Siemens historically hasn't known how to market ourselves out a paper bag." With a potential IPO and corporate rebranding/renaming in the offing—about which Hummel said not a word—we may have seen the last of Siemens at Enterprise Connect. The name under which they’re known at Enterprise Connect 2013 will be an interesting one to catch up with.


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