Unified Communications guide Part 4: Only for big business?

Is Unified Communications a big investment for the deep-pocketed enterprise, or an affordable technology anyone can adopt?

PREVIOUSLY: What can Unified Communications do for me?

Unified Communications sounds like an exciting prospect for large corporates, but you don't have to be a heavy hitter to enjoy its benefits.

Many Unified Communications features are set to available as part of hosted services targeted at small to medium businesses, says Oscar Trimboli - Director of Microsoft's Unified Communications group in Australia.

Microsoft is working with telco Telstra, as well as hosting providers WebCentral and Emantra, to provide hosted Unified Communications offerings, Trimboli says.

"Unified Communications is a bit pointless if only a small segment of enterprise organisations get the benefit of it. It needs to be broadly adopted and that's why we've been putting these building blocks in place with the partners like Telstra, WebCentral and Emantra for a good couple of years," he says.

The upcoming release of Microsoft's Office Communication Server (OCS)

2007 will further unify voice and data communications, says Emantra managing director Ross Dewar.

"Microsoft has paid a lot of attention to making this new technology work with legacy phone systems and to understanding exactly how real users work," Dewar says.

"For example, with OCS 2007 a simple phone call can become a conference call or a video conference on the fly. Voice-mail and faxes move over the network like email and will arrive in the Microsoft Office Outlook

2007 inbox where users can sort, prioritise, and forward them, just like any piece of email. Users on the road can dial in over any telephone to hear their emails and appointments."

Dewar sees strong potential for pay-by-the-month managed services around OCS in combination with Emantra's existing Hosted Exchange 2007, Windows Sharepoint 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 services.

"Smaller companies will like the hosted model because the traditional ownership and operation of this new technology may well be out of their technical and financial reach. Larger corporate and government entities will be attracted because of the speed in which the hosted model can be implemented, as well as the reduced distractions and risk of having the service externally managed. Even very large organisations will look at utilising a hosted model to prove the concept before making a major investment in an in-house capability," he says.

NEXT: Unified Communications - How can I dip my toe in?


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