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prairieFyre Contact Center for Microsoft Lync Update

A little over two years ago, I wrote a piece for No Jitter on prairieFyre's first release of its Contact Center for Microsoft Lync solution. At the time it was one of just five or so contact center applications available for the soon to be released Lync 2010. As true today as it was in 2010, contact center remains a solution area Microsoft continues to believe is best served by partners.

As the world waits for the next Wave (15) of Lync, many partners are busy updating their applications. Microsoft has not announced an official launch date for Lync 2013, though those who watch it more closely than I (i.e., the Redmond Channel Partner) reported in an article last week that the anticipated release date is Q4 2012 or Q1 2013--very specific.

Why would a partner announce ahead of the Lync 2013 launch? prairieFyre's VP of Business Development Todd Simons said that Lync 2013 is largely irrelevant in terms of contact center, that Microsoft "didn't put a lot of goodies" in for contact center application providers. prairieFyre is a member of Microsoft's Technology Adoption Program (TAP), which helps Microsoft test and identify issues during the development phase, so they should know.

Simons went on to say that the only thing specific to Lync 2013 they will announce is compatibility, within 60 days of release. That said, work has been done, like updating the way the application works with the updated UCMA (Unified Communications Managed API), and backward compatibility for the installed base.

So what is new in the release? Screen pop from ANI and DNIS to a CRM application. Even Simons admitted that this might not seem "earth-shaking," but reported that the Dynamics CRM people were excited by it. The new version, 5.10.1, also introduces a queue resiliency option that automatically routes calls to alternative endpoints in the event of a network failure or outage. The alternatives are defined in the native Lync queuing application, Response Groups. This makes it similar to a server-based contact center application that can "fall-back" to PBX-based routing, e.g., Siemens Enterprise Communications OpenScape Contact Center using Flex Routing in case of server failure.

More interesting than the new features is the update Simons provided on prarieFyre's success in the market. While last year prairieFyre was reporting proof-of-concepts and trials, this year the company has tens of customers. Many of those have 20 or so agents deployed, but he reports some also have over 100 agents. One reference customer, L'Occitane, reports having installed prairieFyre and Lync to replace a Genesys implementation. No surprise then that Genesys is one of the most recent contact center solution providers to certify Microsoft Lync interoperability.