Anybody out there using Microsoft OCS?

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Tags:
Microsoft Exchange
Microsoft OCS
Networking
Unified Communications
I was curious if anyone was using Microsoft OCS to actually run unified communications in their shop. I've heard a lot of high-level discussion about its complexity, its capabilites, etc., but I haven't found anyone actually using it. Is it worth the hassle?
ASKED: February 18, 2008  2:50 PM
UPDATED: June 25, 2008  2:38 PM

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We did a proof of concept with OCS last fall and winter. It was proven to be not-quite-ready for prime time. For instance, when someone called my phone number, if I failed to answer it was to transfer to our regular VOIP system to allow the caller to leave a voice message. Often it would fail to transfer. Quality of the sound was often nearly unacceptable as well.

So stated, we do use the IM part of the system, about 100 of us, and it seems to work well. There are a few anomolies, such as having to log in each morning, but that’s likely just a result of the way we lay policies on our workstations to keep them safe. I do like the ability to know if someone is actually at their desk or not before walking upstairs to chat!

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  • Buddyfarr
    if you are looking for a good unified communications system look at the Shoretel VoIP system. it is pure VoIP, will integrate with outlook and your cell phone. I have just installed a new system in one of our office locations and it works great. It does have a converged conferencing center switch so that "brings audio conferencing, desktop/application sharing, instant messaging, virtual meeting rooms, on-line presentations, and multi-media recording together in one solution." This is one of the fastest growing VoIP companies in america and I believe it might do what you are looking for.
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  • Michael Morisy
    Thanks Khavekost and Buddyfarr! Shoretel VoIP sounds like a much more comprehensive solution than a lot of what I've seen out there. I'll definitely take a look at it.
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  • Buddyfarr
    Shoretel is a great product because they started from the ground up as a VoIP system instead of taking an old PBX and building VoIP into it. There are several advantages including cost that it has over other systems. Cisco for one states that if you do not have ALL cisco networking devices, (routers, switches, core switches, everything) then they will not guarantee that it will work. Whereas I have the Shoretel system and am using HP PoE switches and the system works great. I have had a few issues with the voicemail server but that is turning out to be faulty hardware that was not made by Shoretel. We are getting a full refund on the purchase price of the server and are buying a whole new brand of server even though the server is 5 months old. Our vendor that we are getting shoretel through is doing everything they can to make the implementation successful. Our network is not that big, 400+ users with 12 different sites, but they have told me of current customer installs that they are working on right now with school systems that are very wide spread with 500-700 phones that are turning around very quickly. The install is quick and clean and just works. When it comes down to it IT persons don't have time to be messing around with overly sophisticated equipment. We want something that gets the job done, doesn't break down all the time, and doesn't come with a 5,000 page installer manual. Of course our version of complicated and the end user's version of complicated are two different cases all together. Shoretel has a program called, (I believe), Call Operator Manager that the receptionist would use at her desk. Basically a Call Manager soft phone program that as calls come in they show up on her computer. She can use her mouse to answer them, route them, etc. If a call gets routed back to her the route will show that the person had already talked to her before, got routed to someone's extension, got that person's voicemail and pressed 0 to get back to the operator. So he or she can tell that they didn't want voicemail and were unable to contact who they were calling so the receptionist can offer options to the caller like paging the person they are looking for, instead of just routing them back to voicemail again.
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  • Igott
    I have done several deployments of OCS both in both Enterprise Voice and Remote Call Control scenarios and clients have been extremely pleased with teh products. Most of my clients have primarly had Cisco CallManager and Cisco voice network equipment and integration with Exchange Unified Messaging often required a third party gateway from Dialogic. Sure there were hurdles to get past and it definitely pays to have expertise on VOIP, OCS, and the Exchange side of the house to ensure things come together somethly but the OCS products is definitely something that I am seeing a lot of interest in even some of my largest clients that have upwards of 100,000+ seats. It will definitely take time for OCS to be fully accepted and like any new product there will be areas in which the product will need improvments and from my first had experience Microsoft is listening to what partners and clients have to say about the product. There are definiltely success stories out there and while each project I have been involved in has had its own unique set of hurdles to get past I am happy to say they have all been a great success for my organization and the clients that have adopted Microsoft Unified Communications!
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  • Deakowen
    I just finished a pilot project of OCS and Exch 2007, and it really is working very well. We have it rolled out to 250 users, with minor issues (most of which are on the telephony side, not the network side). Very nice solution!
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