Unified Communications: Click to talk

Jan 28 2009   3:49PM GMT

Book Review: Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Bottom Line:
Unified Communications is one of those hot, ‘buzzword’ technologies that everyone is talking about and many are adopting, or at least exploring. However, unified communications is also a somewhat ethereal concept with no agreed upon standard for what it actually is, and a playing field that is shifting faster than customers can understand. Unified communications is important and it will transform the way companies communicate and do business so managers need to grasp how to leverage the technologies. Joe Schurman’s book provides understanding that readers need regarding unified communications today, but more importantly it provides insight into the unified communications of tomorrow so that readers can develop strategies that are effective now as well as the near future.

My Review:
Joe Schurman is uniquely suited to write Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications. Schurman has been involved in voice and unified communications technologies virtually since their inception. He has been a successful consultant, speaker, and trainer, focusing on evangelizing Microsoft solutions, for the past 15 years. As the Founder and CEO of Evangelyze Communications, a Microsoft Gold Partner and Voice Premier Partner, Joe continues to be a respected authority in the field and a trusted confidant of Microsoft.

The book is not available today. According to Amazon.com readers can find the book around the end of February. I was fortunate to be able to read the pre-publications drafts and to provide my insight and feedback on the chapter dedicated to VoIP and unified communications security.

The book opens with an excellent overview of the history of telephony and the evolution through VoIP (voice over IP) to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and other voice protocols, the concept of Presence, and the development of what unified communications is today. Schurman then goes on to talk about the use of VoIP by the consumer market using tools such as Windows Live Messenger, an excellent look at Microsoft’s Response Point phone system for SMB’s, and a discussion of enterprise-class solutions built on Microsoft Unified Communications technologies such as Office Communications Server and Exchange Server.

The book then covers additional topics like integrating collaboration and speech recognition into the unified communications / VoIP environment, and how to customize the solution to extend its capabilities. This is an area that Schurman has intimate knowledge of as his company, Evangelyze Communications, has leveraged the extensibility of Office Communications Server to develop innovative products like SmartChat, and the 2008 Internet Telephony Magazine Product of the Year, SmartVoIP.

Schurman covers more advanced topics like securing and virtualizing unified communications and voice, and a chapter for consultants to help them understand how to sell the unified communications concept to customers.

Unified communications is a quickly evolving technology (or collection of technologies) that businesses around the world are struggling to understand and embrace. Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications is just the title that these readers need to educate themselves on what unified communications can do for them today, but more importantly to position themselves for what unified communications will do for them tomorrow.

Features and Facts:
Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications
Price: $39.99 (available from Amazon.com for $26.39)
Published: Feb 2009, Addison-Wesley Professional
ISBN: 032157995X (ISBN-13: 978-0321579959)
Pages: 288

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