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May 19 2008   11:39AM GMT

Unified Communications Implementation – Update

JohnWilder John Wilder Profile: JohnWilder

We’re making excellent progress on our Microsoft UC implementation. To date, we’ve rolled out Microsoft Office Communications Server and in our main office, and we’ve begun testing with the Communicator and LiveMeeting clients. In addition, we’ve nearly completed the migration to Exchange 2007 and we’re in the process of removing Exchange servers from our remote sites. This week we’re rolling out OCS Mediation servers to our main office and two remote locations. These servers, along with soon to be installed gateway servers, will be the connection between our Exchange server and our phone switches. We’re probably about 2 weeks away from tying it all into our existing phone system.

I’m currently in the process of presenting an overview to our users in order to prep them for what’s ahead. We’ll be doing formal training for the system around the middle of June, but for now I’m just laying some of the groundwork and giving employees an idea of what’s ahead. One of the big reasons we’re deploying Microsoft UC is to facilitate the connection of new phone systems into our existing system. Secondary to that is our plan to once again implement Unified Messaging – this time through Exchange 2007, and also to provide presence information via the Communicator client.

One of my great fears is that I’m introducing too much too fast, and some of the items I didn’t mention above could also take off on us. In addition to those features mentioned above, we’ll also be providing chat capability, the ability to easily redirect phone calls to other numbers, and additional conferencing capability through LiveMeeting. I’d like to roll these items out following the initial implementation of UC, but I know that some of my users will begin to play with them on day one. Other than LiveMeeting, which is a separate client I can choose to leave uninstalled for now, many of the features mentioned above are built right into Communicator.

I’m also a bit nervous about Microsoft’s Mac support. We’ve only recently received an update to Messenger for the Mac which works with OCS 2007, and we’re currently searching for a LiveMeeting client. I’m concerned that LiveMeeting on OCS requires a client and does not provide any web-based conferencing capability. That being the case, it’s not necessarily the end of the world, because out intent all along was to use this primarily as an internal conferencing system. We use Acrobat Connect as our conferencing system to the outside world. However, it would be serious limitation if LiveMeeting didn’t provide a way to include our own Macs.That would hurt.

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