My Favorite OC Compatible Devices

I have been testing OC compatible devices for quite some time and in my new position at Microsoft I get the chance to use demo devices on a regular basis. So I have pretty much used or tested nearly every device available. These are a few of my favorites:

Plantronics Voyager Pro UC - In my opinion probably the best USB Bluetooth wireless headset on the market right now that is OC certified. Wireless range is pretty good but not as good as some DECT headsets I have tried but still pretty good. Voice quality and everything else about this headset is pretty solid. It can also be paired with your cell phone but this isn’t something I have tried. Very portable and compact.

Plantronics MCD100-M USB Speakerphone – This is a nice piece of equipment that I use quite often. A solid device that has a 360 degree microphone. Although the shape seems a bit awkward to fit in a computer bag it is indestructible to travel. It goes with me everywhere and is a great device.

Jabra BIZ 2400 – This is my favorite wired headset but it does come with a higher price tag. Nearly indestructible, this device is probably one of the best made devices out there. Great for call center workers or high use workers that spend all day with a headset on.

Microsoft LifeCam Cinema – A solid HD camera without the high price tag. Even though it is HD compatible for Communicator you are going to need a pretty beefy quad core machine to enable HD. The picture quality without HD is still great and it is a solid device that can travel pretty well.

Polycom CX100 – another conferencing phone and a great item for travelers that is slim for the computer bag and solid construction. Voice quality is good and like the Plantronics device, under $100.

Two devices I haven’t had a chance to test but really want to:

Polycom CX300 – This is a USB device that a lot of enterprise customer have been asking about, for one reason. A dial pad. I haven’t had my chance to get my hands on one but when I do I will post my experience.

Jabra PRO 9400 - This device is a multitasking headset with base station that can control a softphone or cell phone simultaneously. Has a nice look with a touch screen display. Coolness factor is way up there. Hopefully I can see one in the flesh really soon.

The list of compatible hardware just keeps growing and the quality improving while the prices are coming down. Sub $50 dollar certified headsets are now available from Plantronics and Jabra giving companies’ great competitive choices.

Happy Holidays from the staff at VoIPNorm

Okay, so when I say staff I mean me. I thought I would finish off the year with my top five most useful blogs I have used or seen this year. This is a based on my biases and perception on how much useful information I think I obtained or is on the blog.

VoIPNorms TOP 5 UC blogs for 2009

5. Unified Communications Group Team Blog – This is Microsoft centric blog but loads of useful information from member of the OCS product group.

4. DTMF – Doug Lawty is a MCS consultant with great OCS voice experience. He has some great information on his blog that is well written. He would have been higher on the list but we need Doug to contribute more often to his blog.

3. Matt McGillen’s blog – Another consultant that has a great perspective on getting things done and working through the issues.

2.UCspotting – Rui Silva is a UC TSP at Microsoft and has a great blog worth checking out. What he doesn’t know about OCS isn’t worth knowing.

1. VoIPNorm – What else did you expect me to say. I said it was based on my biases :)

Anyway, thanks to everyone that has contributed to the content, commented or read the blog this year. Look for more articles on interop, OCS, Wave 14, competitions and a whole bunch of other stuff in 2010.

If you have a blog you think is list worthy please let me know. Leave a comment or email me at

User Group Updates

This week was a really popular week for user group meetings. First off was the Unified Communications Virtual User Group. I actually presented OCS Response Groups. I have to admit, I am not the greatest online presenter so my apologies to those on the call. I get more nervous doing online presentation than in person. Weird. Going virtual for these types of things is a strange occurrence to me as the really value of user groups is the interaction so this was more of a webinar type feel to it. Which is fine, but still not quite the same if you know what I mean.

Next meeting I attended was the Pacific North West UC Doers. Time to celebrate the Exchange 2010 launch. It was an interesting meeting with Yesim Koman from the Exchange product group presenting Exchange IRM - RMS integration. This was an in person meeting held on the Microsoft Redmond Campus. There was a good mix of people from different companies attending. Plenty of swag for those that attended including software, t-shirts and webcams donated by a couple of the different Microsoft sales and marketing groups. UC Doers is a free User Group that receives strong support from Microsoft, partners and regular customer attendees. Look for meeting announcements on my blog for the next quarterly meeting. Thanks to Josh Maher for organizing and hanging in there with the group.

Lastly was the Pacific North West Chapter of the International Nortel Networks User Association. This is something quite different to the other user groups I attended early in the week and was a well-attended event by end users, Nortel and other vendors. This was my first time at a Nortel User Group meeting. It was great to see so many folks working together from different arms of industry and government trying to help each other. This was their annual Christmas get together so I am guessing a little less formal than a regular meeting but everyone was warm and welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed attending. The Nortel User group chapters are going through some particularly challenging times since the Avaya acquisition. Hopefully this doesn’t end up an amalgamation of Avaya and Nortel user groups just yet as there is still plenty of support for Nortel among customers concerned about where the product lines and support is headed.

I have a unique opportunity in my job that attending user group meetings is beneficial to my position and it also helps me to keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry. Whether you work in the telecom or network sector there is more than likely an end user group out there for you. Since I have worked in the IT industry I have been to Cisco, Linux, Microsoft and Nortel user groups and all had something to offer. It really doesn’t take much effort to attend one of these meetings so I encourage everyone to get out there, network and support your local user groups.

Why using the same SIP domain for Tandberg OCS interop can be hazardous to your health

An interesting point came up this week while in a discussion about using the same SIP domain when doing interop between OCS and Tandberg, it can be a bad idea in a large environments. This is of course related to using the Tandberg VCS. If you are registering Tandberg endpoints directly to OCS this is not an issue. When you start looking at the configuration of OCS for VCS interop you will understand why this has the potential to be an issue.

When you add a static route, as I have like in my screen shot, this is a blanket static route that has no filtering etc so when I send an invite with the domain VCS.domain it goes to the intended VCS specified in the IP address portion. Now if this domain is the same as my OCS domain, guess what, every invite generated by OCS has the potential to get sent to the VCS and not just to the intended system registered to OCS. In a small environment this is not such a problem and the VCS will work just fine but in a larger environment this could create a significant load on the VCS. I have not tested for this behavior myself but it certainly makes sense that this would indeed happen.

This also brings up another couple of points. When dealing with larger environment, rarely are the VTC and OCS team the same group of people. So it makes good sense to have separation virtually between the two environments using different SIP domains. Although this doesn’t quite fit in the UC model of unifying your environment this does ease things like troubleshooting and help create a demarcation point. You may think I am crazy saying that the same organization requires a demarcation point between teams but it’s an unfortunate reality. I have seen this quite a few times now in organization where they want to deploy UC but instead of the telecom, VTC and collaboration teams coming together to work jointly on a project they create a third silo for UC and another team is born. I have heard a telecom manager say, “You have to talk to our UC guy we (telecom) don’t deal with that stuff”.

So anyway, till next week.