Microsoft is planning to offer unified communications on an on-demand basis.
Unified communications allow voice, video and data inside a multitude of applications to pass through a single delivery system to allow employees to communicate more easily using desktops, phones and mobile devices.
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At this week's VoiceCon conference in San Francisco, Warren Barkley, a group programme manager at Microsoft, told attendees that Microsoft was aiming to offer unified comms as a service offering.
Such an offering would be ideal, he said, for widely distributed smaller businesses that did not have the resources or manpower to set up a central unified comms platform. No timeline has so far been put on the service offering by Microsoft.
Despite the plans, Microsoft is still committed to the centrally deployed enterprise unified comms hub market. This week also saw Microsoft confirm the 16 October launch date of its main unified comms hub Office Communications Server 2007.
According to analyst Infonetics Research, worldwide sales of unified comms products increased 21% between 2005 and 2006, reaching £191m.
Avaya is the leader in the worldwide unified messaging market by sales, said Infonetics. But its top competitors, including Nortel, Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent (in that order), are gaining fast, said the analyst.
Nortel has been instrumental in helping Microsoft to build Office Communications Server 2007.