Microsoft Lync: The Pros and Cons for Enterprises

Microsoft launched Lync, the next generation of its Office Communications Server, into the nascent unified communications market. But will enterprises sign on and will it be enough to take down competitors Cisco, Avaya and IBM?

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Thu, November 18, 2010
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Lync's bandwidth management upgrade also allows IT pros to split what goes over the WAN and what goes over the Internet. For example, you can route voice calls over the WAN but route video over the Internet if the video doesn't have to be perfect quality. This is something you could not do with OCS.

The Lync Price Benefit

Lync Server 2010 follows the CAL (client access license) model, where a license is required for each user.

There are three license options for Lync: a Standard CAL includes instant messaging and presence and costs $31 per user; an Enterprise CAL includes audio, video and Web conferencing, and costs $107 per user; a Plus CAL includes enterprise voice telephony technologies -- it also costs $107 per user.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and reviews of SharePoint 2010 -- see CIO.com's SharePoint Bible. ]

To enable all features, a user must be licensed with all three CALs, adding up to $245.

In comparison, the basic voice licenses for Cisco and Avaya are $250.

"There's a good business argument here for putting in Microsoft's voice product instead of Avaya or Cisco," says Blood.

Microsoft Lync
Two Microsoft employees at the Lync launch in New York City use Lync to video conference each other and work on the same document. (Credit: Shane O'Neill)

The savings become more apparent when you compare Lync to Cisco's full voice, video and messaging suite, called Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing. The cost for the Professional edition of Cisco's suite is $500.

Lync Challenges

Lync Still Uses a Lot of Bandwidth

Despite Lync's improved bandwidth management, it still uses a lot more bandwidth than traditional solutions, says Blood, and companies will have to account for that somehow.

With a PBX system you cannot do video, so that limits the amount of bandwidth you use. Having voice telephony and video in the same product are big bandwidth hogs, notes Blood.

"The downside is that with Lync you're going to spend more money increasing WAN capacity, possibly as much $250,000 to cover voice and video," he adds. "IT needs to prepare for that."

Lync Will Force Companies to Evaluate How IT Is Structured

Lync will also require companies to take a closer look at how their networks are designed and how their IT organizations are structured.

Traditionally, the part of the IT organization that implements Lync for instant messaging, SharePoint and Exchange is different from the part of IT that implements voice and video tools.

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