Thought I would just do a quick entry for an interesting comment I received.
CK1 asked some great questions that I wanted to respond to and maybe others might like to read without having to pour through the comments.
Question: What do you feel is the right combo (if any) of Cisco and Microsoft UC (voice, video, conferencing, presence, federation, etc...) products? We have Cisco CM 4.x now but my boss is a MS guy and wants to switch all Voice/UC to Microsoft.
Answer: Great question and one that a lot of companies are asking at the moment. I think to truly answer this you have to look at where you are going to get the best technology for the best price while still getting the return on your current investments. Just because your boss prefers MS does not mean this may be the best investment to rip and replace. The Cisco product line has been around for a lot longer and is the mature product with a big range of hardware, but MS have done a great job so far to make the right investments in the right places and have shown true innovation with OCS. I think if your company has heavy investments in both products, then I think using current interoperability options and using MS for mobile users and Cisco for the desk phone is a good choice.
From a technology stand point it’s hard to make a clear choice in either direction if you are to choose just one. Both have their strengths and weakness and what it comes down to then is your environment. Are you best served to favor the mobile crowed that would prefer a strong desktop integration or more of desk bound environment where your customer prefers a hard phone. This along with cost will tell you what solution will fit in your environment best.
Question: What are the pros/cons of having a pure MS solution (Costs (hw/sw), reliability, scalability, Performance, Hard Phones?
Answer: I think that MS have done a great job so far with the release of R2. In a relatively short time the product has matured very fast. R2 has been a big improvement over R1 in nearly all the areas you mention. With the consolidated topology OCS is very scalable and reliable and should easily fit in most environments without too much pain. Of course larger deployments will always have its difficulties but that really comes with any software and its not always the software that causes the issues.
Cost is a funny one because volume discounts vary greatly but in saying that I think no matter what size company Microsoft have positioned themselves to be extremely competitive.
Hard phones (stand alone device and not a usb device) is an area that MS really haven’t hit the mark yet. The Tanjay is quite expensive at recommended retail and is not really, what I call the most ergonomic device to use. Although having your IM contacts on the hard phone is cool I think this area could be a pain point for MS when customers hard press them for more options. There are some other companies like Snom that are starting to release OCS compatible products but none have yet to reach the quality or depth that Cisco are offering for CUCM. On the desktop USB side of the house, MS partners are producing some great products that are growing in number which is why I like OCS as a mobile user solution.
Question: Also, my understanding is Cisco is to release a OCS plug-in that will scale down the design efforts for presence.
Answer: Yes they are but I can’t delve into the exact details. I think sometime in the second half of the year they will release more details on this and for a Cisco centric environment, I think it will be a welcomed improvement that will greatly simplify not just presence but call control if you choose to do it all with CUCM.
Hopefully this helped answer some of CK1’s questions, although I am sure now you have a thousand more. Please feel free to comment.