What Avaya Aren’t Telling You About ACE

I have seen a lot of information or should I say misinformation recently around ACE about what it does and what it can save you when combined with Lync. Most of you know by now I have never been a believer in plugins, even before I started working at Microsoft I was never a fan.  My first tests with plugins showed me just how disjointed a user experience they really are. Paired with that is the misinformation that vendors are spreading around licensing cost savings with being able to go back to Standard Cal for Lync because of a plugin that only does telephony which by the way is not free in it self.

So if you are a company running Lync and Avaya comes knocking with ACE here are a few questions to ask:

    • How does ACE support VPNLess access?
    • How Does ACE work with Lync Federation?
    • How does ACE tie in with my CEBP presence enabled applications?
    • How does ACE support video?
    • How does ACE support dynamic location aware E911?
    • What about dynamic bandwidth codecs on the internet?
    • Lync Audio and web conferencing support?
    • If I drop back to Standard Cal with Lync can I still use Lync audio, video and web conferencing?
    • Does ACE support media Encryption?
    • Is the ACE integration supported by Microsoft?
    • How long after a Microsoft releases a new version of Lync does ACE support become available?
    • If I use ACE, what is the conferencing experience like?
    • What additional components and costs are needed for Avaya’s conferencing solution?
    • Can I escalate a peer2peer voice session into a Lync data collaboration experience?  How many steps are required?
    • What happens to call control if ACE is un-available but Lync is? Isn't that confusing to my end-users?

You will be surprised by just how many of these answers are no, breaking the UC experience or offering you limited support. I strongly encourage people to read my post on plugins versus native to see more of my insight as to why breaking the Lync experience to preserve a legacy deployment with a plugin is not as easy as competitors make out.



  1. So Chris why does Microsoft not make all the API's available for Voice and Video within the Lync client for third party vendors?

  2. I am not sure what your point is. ACE is aimed at preserving legacy vendor footprint by using their own voice capabilities. Plugins like ACE are not interested in using Microsofts voice and video they are more interested in displacing it. So I guess I dont understand your question in relation to the post.

    If I am to step outside of the post, Microsoft does license it codecs to those that want to use them (Polycom, Tandberg etc) it also publishes all of the protocols it uses for other vendors to use (SNOM, Damaka, Polycom, Tandberg, Lifesize are examples) and on top of that you can also surpress the Lync UI to create your own (Avtex, Modality systems to name a few have taken advantage of that). So there are already lots of options partners and ISV's are taking advantage of.

    If you want to expand I am happy to discuss further.

  3. If you want to have a walled garden that is complex, costly, and overly proprietary then by all means deploy Lync. Many of the questions you pose are bogus and quite simply FUD... you are afterall a MSFT-paid shill. ACE and other competing technologies attempt to break the MSFT choke-hold, allow the enterprises to use the best "widgets", and/or reuse a lot of expensive gear. A Lync deployment reminds me of a line from the movie "Tommy Boy" where there is a discussion about a competitors break pads.

  4. The "preserve a legacy deployment" comment about ACE isn't quite fair. The direction of ACE is to extend the next-generation SIP architecture of Aura to Lync while keeping the user experience consistent and giving people choice about what devices they want to use.

  5. @ Anon - While you say FUD I say reasonable questions. Your walled garden comment certainly falls into the FUD category though and one that many competitors have tried to use. I noticed you didn’t identify yourself or your employer so I can only assume your work for Avaya or a Partner of Avaya with your comments. Its a pity you had to resort to insults rather than build a credible argument.

    @ Anon - I am all for choice but complicating the desktop and removing features that in a lot of cases a company may already own is hardly extending choice or giving a consistent user experience. With greyed out menu items, video, lose of desktop sharing features and complicated escalation process as shown in the utube video I think ACE is less about choice and more about preservation. Thanks for respectively objecting to the post.

  6. Seems to be a lot of Avaya sales presence out on the UC blogs today. :) Wonder why that is?

    I personally am NOT, as the other Anon said "A MSFT paid shill", but as a consultant who represents several vendors and HAS been involved in client-side integrations before, I would say take a good hard look at what you lose with any 3rd party add-ons for Lync. (Either ACE or CUCILync etc.) They are difficult to deploy and maintain, you have to invest in additional MCUs since you can't use Lync AV services and it makese all remote services moot.

    All integration options with Lync have pros and cons. Educate yourself and make the decision that's best for your organization.

  7. @ Anon. Thanks for the comment and I couldn't agree more. Education is key to understanding not only the solutions out there but also building your own strategic direction. Hopefully the questions I proposed here help in building understanding of the ACE solution when its being proposed to be integrated with Lync.

  8. Nice Post
    I aggree with this article. It is verry hard to use a legacy pbx like avaya,cisco etc. with Lync.
    It is better to decide to use a legacy PBX without a perfect integration in a Microsoft enviroment or to use Lync with a good integration.
    If a customer ask me, what is the best way?
    I will decide to use Lync as only solution.

  9. Really I think Avaya’s desire here is to preserve its legacy environment where most of the Avaya product line is caught between H.323 and SIP giving their customers a false sense of security in what is now a “software” SIP world for Unified Communications. ACE while being a good concept only partly tells the story, if a customer chooses ACE (software) to merge a hardware solution (communication manager/CS1k) with Microsoft (Lync) they know the battle is being lost, the market is changing rapidly and ACE is proof. Most of the deals I see Avaya winning are contact center related, however guess what, that is now software as well, again it’s only a matter of time.
    Issue is Avaya is not a software company and it never will be; the customers know the phone calls they need to make when a new version of Windows is released:
    - My Avaya Modular Messaging client won’t launch under Office 2010
    - My i2050 doesn’t work with Windows 7
    - My CallPilot client stopped working when I upgraded to Office 2010
    - Why is one-X crashing under Windows 8
    Fact is these software solutions run a majority of the businesses in the world, as we tightly integrate voice, IM, Presence, Video and web conferencing seamless interop is key to success for these customers.

  10. I am yet another anonymous - for some reason the authenticated post method fails for me.
    Anyway, another question Avaya customers should ask themselves is how viable the company is.
    Avaya has about as much debt as annual revenue and burns through about half a billion dollars of cash per year, or 10% of revenue.
    The first thing that suffers in a situation like that is investment in product development... Good luck.

  11. How about these general responses to your questions (2 parts):

    How does ACE support VPNLess access? It doesn't work today without a VPN, but Avaya's purchase of Sipera SBC should help with this. Many customers restrict external access to only VPN and don't want to split up client tunnel options back into their environment.

    How Does ACE work with Lync Federation? There is no conflict with native Lync federation I am aware of you can still see/use IM/Presence of partner Lync orgs. VERY few orgs will open up federation or voice/video today since that would unleash bandwidth uncertainty at the edge and create many support risks.

    How does ACE tie in with my CEBP presence enabled applications? Assuming Communication Enabled Business Processes, ACE is a platform to create CEBP applications, leveraging existing telephony environment. Lync is just another client app for ACE. In many orgs today they are still a phone-centric culture so enabling click-to-call within existing applications is a great fit for user adoption and smoother user behavioural shifts. The ACE value prop is based on this model...enable at your pACE.

    How does ACE support video? Today it does not. In a future release, ACE should escalate into the Aura communication core for video under the same model as it does for audio today, leveraging the Aura core.

    How does ACE support dynamic location aware E911? ACE is an integration platform that extends the communication platform (ie. telephony environment) onto the client's end point (ie. PC). E911 support is essentially enabled in the core, so you would not really use ACE to provide E911 support.

    What about dynamic bandwidth codecs on the internet? ACE is an itegration platform so this is not relevant to it's value proposition.

    Lync Audio and web conferencing support?
    ACE does not integrate with these applications.

    If I drop back to Standard Cal with Lync can I still use Lync audio, video and web conferencing? MS licensing would not allow for this as you have to purchase Ent CAL for Lync to use any conferencing.

    Does ACE support media Encryption?
    No, ACE is an enablement platform, encryption comes from the communication core.

    Is the ACE integration supported by Microsoft?

    How long after a Microsoft releases a new version of Lync does ACE support become available? This would depend on how dramatically MS changes the UX, APIs, operational capabilities, etc. of their solution (servers and clients), etc. Going from OCS to Lync was a BIG change. Thanks Microsoft...

    If I use ACE, what is the conferencing experience like? You can create a meet-me audio conference by starting a call with one person, put them on hold, call the second person, then add them to the first call. To schedule a call you E-Mail people the bridge number to call in with PIN at a certain time, everyone calls that number (from a phone or the Lync client) and you talk. These are the same models that exist today for the vast majority of users, so very little re-training in user behaviours. If there is content to share, there is usually a link to a web sharing experience (Go-To-Meeting, Adobe UConnect, Avaya Web Conferencing, WebEx, Live Meeting, etc.). Use what they already know.

    What additional components and costs are needed for Avaya’s conferencing solution? For meet-me conferencing this could be part of the native Communication Manager (PBX) solution so nothing. For larger conferencing options and Aura Conferencing solution could be deployed.

  12. Part 2:

    Can I escalate a peer2peer voice session into a Lync data collaboration experience? How many steps are required? No you could not really escalate in this way, escalating to a "desktop share" in a native Lync solution is quite slick. It may be important to note that if you're always communicating P2P (Lync STD CAL only) you don't have rights to initiate ad-hoc application sharing, P2P or multi-party (requires Ent CAL). The way it can be done is from a P2P call/IM, you can paste a URL to a web sharing solution in the Lync client (Go-To-Meeting, Adobe UConnect, Avaya Web Conferencing, WebEx, Live Meeting, etc.) and the users click-to-join. Not elegant but can be much more affordable and again, plays to the behaviours many users understand today.

    What happens to call control if ACE is un-available but Lync is? Isn't that confusing to my end-users? Um, how about you pick up the phone and dial a number. It's what most every user does today. The ACE add-on complements that experience by adding click-to-call in the Lync client, extending that to be a soft-phone as well as required. But what if Lync is unavailable? Hope your cell phone is charged...or you have a GoogleTalk account...

  13. Chris,

    First off, just note that I've always respected you and am only responding to this message as I noticed a notification of this topic from LinkedIn by a non-Avaya colleague. In fact, I’m very glad that there are experts like you that dedicate the additional time to inform the community on these topics. Mike Stacy is another great contributor out there as well. With that, I'd like to contribute to this topic from a customer's point of view as I have been meeting with many large enterprise organizations over the past several months, both onsite and remotely, as well as provide support for Microsoft, Avaya, and other vendors in this response as the back and forth and uneducated responses that I’m seeing on both sides of the equation related to who said what from both sides is only causing customers to make poor decisions and become even more confused on top of what can be a very confusing and painstaking issue in trying to determine the best solution for their organization to provide communications and collaboration technology through applications and devices. I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this response as well. I’m a writer and I cannot seem to just throw something out there without some detailed explanation.

    The complexity and hardship really comes into play when the customer is trying to address both business and technical communications and collaboration challenges by selecting a single vendor that can provide the answer, when the answer is that there is not one single vendor in this market who can do that and we all know it. I came into Avaya noticing how reactive the organization was because their new set of services had not yet been released and Microsoft Lync was taking off like wildfire within each of their accounts, especially the large ones. The response was combative and focused on an Avaya vs Microsoft campaign that I was a part of. I decided after meeting with several customers to stop this kind of messaging and attack as it provides no value for the customer and only causes further frustration. With this approach, I created a new set of presentations, recorded several internal socialcasts, and developed a new competitive strategy that focused on coexistence.

    I know that every vendor wants to be the UC vendor of choice as well as provide a compelling reason why our technology, our strategy, and our platform is better than the other for reasons including TCO, ROI, ease of use, integration with applications, integration with Cloud services, mobile worker capabilities, etc. , the list goes on and on, however, what we should be focused on is providing consultation as a trusted advisor and advising the customer as to the appropriate vendor in a fit for purpose environment that will most definitely be multi-vendor, but suited with a best of breed approach and architecture that benefits the customer.

  14. Avaya is offering customers the ability to provide both the Lync and Avaya experience with this initial release that supports Lync, Exchange, Lync Client, Outlook, and Office for both on-premise and Office 365 integration. There will be a subsequent release to provide users with the ability to leverage Lync A/V conferencing which is actually available today, but because of the closed development and lack of menu-based intuitiveness of the Lync Client persona menu, the ambiguous “Call” menu option has been greyed out, but can easily be turned back on via a simple registry setting. It’s not the best fix, but it’s because of the way the UI will look and could cause users to be confused between what is a VoIP Call and what is an Enterprise Voice Call which are and should be two separate and distinct modes of communication based on usage and yet again and most importantly, cost. Enterprise organizations still have a need for support of their existing phones. I’ve been saying this to Microsoft since the release of SmartSIP at EC, my previous company that I started. It’s not cost beneficial to customers to just dismiss these investments and I’ve met customers who have purchased hundreds of thousands of these devices. So, with this release as well, Avaya is supporting a toggle solution that allows users to leverage their IP or TDM phone if they want to by switching between Phone and Computer Mode in the Avaya UI on the Lync Client.

    What this release also does is provides an organization with a low cost solution with immediate ROI as every customer I have visited has invested in Communications Manager 5.2 or higher and/or CS1000 or higher and based on this investment, leveraging the ACE Your Apps promotion, customers do not have to pay for the end-user licenses which is similar to how Microsoft is positioning the Lync Plus (Voice) CAL for existing/previous enterprise customers through the grandfathering clause or otherwise. Not to mention, the only requirement to add is the ACE platform which requires two servers (Core and Integration) which can both be virtualized. Not to mention, and the reason I went to Avaya, ACE has a full API and set of SDKs supporting all modalities unlike the Microsoft UCMA API. So now, developers can leverage this same platform to create rich CEBP applications with both the Avaya and Microsoft CEBP platforms providing some hopefully, very compelling solutions, something of which is top of mind to me more than anything else we’ve discussed. ACE also provides package application integration with cloud based services including applications such as Salesforce.com which can be integrated with the Lync Client now through this integration so I really hope organizations truly understand what’s available here and do not get too caught up in this competitive vendor battle as there is too much innovation being blocked by these conversations.

  15. There was a time and place when vendors and manufacturers once worked together for the betterment of the customer. Each manufacturer provides a best of breed solution. Based on what I have seen in the marketplace and meeting with customers face to face and understanding what is important to them which right now is namely providing a solution that fits today’s communications needs, but will also provide an open architecture to support changes in communications and technology trends that will be multi-vendor driven and require a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and more importantly BYOA (Bring Your Own Application) environment that can be somewhat easily transitioned between on-premise, hybrid, and cloud-based implementations, services, and support. There is not a vendor out there that can do all of this today, but together we can provide a communications architecture that makes sense for the customer now and in the future. I have had a great deal of time now being able to understand what technology is out there in the form of applications, infrastructure, and devices. I’ve met with every one of the big players in this market and have met with a majority of the Fortune 500 as well as past experience in the SMB market as well and it comes down to the same simple realization for every conversation; what is it going to take to enable my organization with the best and most cost efficient set of communications and collaboration devices, applications, and tools.

    In my opinion, a customer should leverage their existing investment from an Enterprise Voice perspective, leverage their existing devices and applications as well as embrace the Microsoft UC experience enabling a coexistence strategy that does not force them into a specific vendor-controlled roadmap and architecture to provide a best of breed solution for their end-users, because what is coming tomorrow is compelling!

    If you have any questions or need any background details around this discussion or examples or real world discussions, feel free to contact me. My position is focused on the end-user and delivering a strategy that enables the capabilities they require today while still supporting what’s desired tomorrow.

    Thanks again and I wish you all a very happy holiday season,


  16. This was supposed to go between the 1st and second paragraph :(

    There are areas where Microsoft is a domain leader and innovator. These areas include Enterprise Messaging (Both Email and Instant Messaging), Office and Information Worker collaboration and communication, as well as VoIP communication not only intra-company but through Federation with other organizations deploying the Microsoft UC platform as well as Public-based VoIP and Messaging providers such as Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, AOL, and public/private messaging systems such as Skype, Jabber, and Sametime. In my opinion there is currently no vendor in the marketplace today that can compete with Microsoft Lync on the desktop or Mac based on that experience. Audio/Video conferencing is also an area in which Microsoft provides a seamless user experience, but as with Audio/Video, Telepresence, and Enterprise Voice, Microsoft is not always the right choice. Some customers have spent millions on Avaya Communications Manager, CS1000, Session Manager, EC500, as well as TDM, IP Phone, and One-X licenses, appliances, servers, devices, software assurance, and professional services and support. They have also spent thousands, or millions depending on the level of service and architecture required, on Microsoft LCS, OCS, OCS R2 with Communicator licenses plus servers, professional services, 3rd party vendor solutions, appliances, devices, applications, and services. Now they want to upgrade because Lync is so compelling on the desktop, they all still use Outlook and Office, and they want to make the best of it, but are now feeling forced to either Rip & Replace or slam in an integration that may not or is not manageable in the short-term or long-term to protect the investments they have made or enable innovative solutions from each vendor.
    With that, Avaya, as is Cisco, is trying to help their customers protect those investments as well as ensure that the decisions that they are making today will support what’s coming tomorrow. As a start, Cisco has provided an add-on solution for the Lync Client so that end-users can still leverage what is already setup in the enterprise to place PSTN, intra-office, or branch calls, but still leverage Lync as the primary application for desktop and VoIP communications and collaboration. Avaya is doing something similar with the ACE 3.0 release coming in just a few weeks. It’s really a great solution because it does not interfere with the Lync end-user experience, provides the organization with protection on the investments they’ve already made in Avaya CM, SM, etc., and more importantly will allow users a choice of desktop and mobile solutions with Lync and One-X until Flare is available in mid-2012 to add to the mix. And don’t dismiss One-X. No, it’s not the best desktop solution and really doesn’t compare to Lync, but from a mobility perspective, the client is extremely feature rich. Bottom line, there is absolutely no need to provide a SIP trunk from a PBX into Lync. It simply makes zero administrative or purchasing sense whatsoever unless the organization has decided to completely rid themselves of the PBX and Lync is not mature enough to do this yet. While I’m completely confident that Lync surpasses all vendors in other areas today such as IM, VoIP-based A/V and IM conferencing, as well as web-conferencing, it’s not the end-all voice solution as users still leverage some features that Lync doesn’t provide as well and more importantly than anything else, does not support the devices they already have. This is the worst economy we have seen in our lifetime and we cannot expect customers to just dismiss the money they have spent thus far on this equipment. People need jobs out here and every penny counts as it should.

  17. @ anon and Joe - Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I am still looking through your comments and promise to respond in time. There is a lot of info here to consume and I want my response to reflect the amount of time and thought you have both taken in your comments.

  18. @anon (comments before Joe) Thanks for taking the time to respond to the post. So not only do you make some big assumptions you also made my point of this entire post.

    Point 1- you assume Avaya is going to do something with their purchase of Sipera but no one knows how long a phone proxy will take or even if that is the direction. Could be tomorrow could be 12 months. The real answer is no they can’t support it today.

    Point 2 – You assumption is completely incorrect. There are a few orgs that only do IM/Presence with federation but it is in the minority and in fact the only organization I know that is doing this today is planning to change it . MOST organizations do all modalities and removing voice would hobble that experience.

    Point 3- I am not sure I understand you explanation for this point. So now an organization need to develop CEBP for both Lync and ACE since they are using presence from one and voice from another. This makes no sense to me confusing the organization and adding to development expense.

    Point 4-True ACE does not support video but Lync video is here today so why wait.

    Point 5- So ACE doesn’t support dynamic E911 for roaming users. So if I call 911 from my home using ACE the responders show up at my office cube going by your response since its centrally managed and not dynamic.

    Point 6 – True, ACE doesn’t support Lync Audio or Web Conferencing. Thanks for confirming that.

    Point 7 – So even though Avaya is proposing ACE with the reciprocal client for use as a softphone dynamic codecs aren’t relevant. I must be missing something. So on the internet where there is no QoS and you’re forced to use a VPN because ACE doesn’t support remote access how is dynamic codecs not relevant? Now it conveniently becomes just an integration platform.

    Point 8 – Again thanks for confirming that ACE doesn’t support media or media encryption and is just middleware.

    Point 9 – You are right, Microsoft doesn’t support ACE but they do support Direct SIP with SES.

    Point 10 – So its Microsoft’s fault for driving forward with innovation and improving the product that Avaya’s plugin is held up in development. Really.

    Point 11- Just reprinting your answer here :
    “If I use ACE, what is the conferencing experience like? You can create a meet-me audio conference by starting a call with one person, put them on hold, call the second person, then add them to the first call. To schedule a call you E-Mail people the bridge number to call in with PIN at a certain time, everyone calls that number (from a phone or the Lync client) and you talk. These are the same models that exist today for the vast majority of users, so very little re-training in user behaviors. If there is content to share, there is usually a link to a web sharing experience (Go-To-Meeting, Adobe UConnect, Avaya Web Conferencing, WebEx, Live Meeting, etc.). Use what they already know.”

    Thanks for helping me prove my point about plugins and breaking the end user experience. Just because some already knows how to do something doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it and a seamless experience. Lync is all about improving the enduser experience and you just showed how using ACE breaks that.

    Point 12- Again prove my point. Not only does ACE not integrate into Lync conferencing now you have to buy addition software from Avaya to do just that with the above mentioned user experience.

    Point 13 – Again describing more broken enduser experience. Just how confused do you want your endusers to be?

    Point 14- So now ACE is just a complement to your desk phone by adding click call or being a softphone but you still need a deskphone. Hmm I didn’t see that line in the PDF for ACE. Interesting.

    All in all you described a broken enduser experience that still requires a deskphone, does not have many of the components that an organization are looking for in UC and will require you to buy Avaya conferencing or another application to do audio and web conferencing. Cool. BTW I would prefer to use Skype.

    Again thanks for responding.

  19. Seems Blogspot is marking multiple comments as spam. If you place a comment that requires multiple posts and it disappears please let me know.

  20. At the core of this argument is this - that there is more value in Avaya voice than the voice capabilities in Lync, therefore a customer should buy and use ACE to hijack the voice portion (and I guess use the dev capabilities for CEBP), all the while living with the downsides outlined here that come with doing that. This assumes that cost of ACE and the re-occurring maintenance fees for Avaya phones are less than the Voice CAL for Lync, or that it is superior enough that you should pay a premium for it.

    Unfortunately, I think that entire premise is wrong. I think if customers investigate this the cost of keeping their Avaya Infrastructure in maintenance and forced upgrades far exceeds the cost of adding Lync voice, and Lync can probably handle (or make obsolete) all of the voice scenarios they require.

  21. I'm not sure why people are getting confused with what ACE actually is. It's not middleware, it's a development server that provides APIs for video, voice, messaging and data. It provides developers from within their existing IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with the ability to develop software leveraging these APIs and provided SDKs from Avaya's DevConnect program. It's as simple as that.

    ACE 3.0 for Microsoft coming this December is a solution built on ACE. The installation is actually client-side, not server. In fact, there is not any server integration at all. All media is handled by Communications Manager 5.2 or higher or CS1K or higher PBX systems. Integration is handled through Active Directory just like Lync for security and identificaiton which is why the solution works for Lync On-premise and Lync Online.

    The Lync solution that is part of this release is a Lync Client SDK application that adds functionality to the Lync Client UI for managing calls and controlling an IP or TDM/Analog Phone for RCC for customers that do not want to lose this functionality. There is also a solution build-in for Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer as well as any E.164 phone number presented on the desktop for advanced normalization for local users to enable direct click-to-call to foreign numbers and local numbers without having to worry about pre-fixing country or regional codes. Bottom line, it adds Enterprise Voice features to the Lync, Windows, and Office platform for features such as Call Consult, Multi-call Handling, Call Waiting Notification, and lastly, RCC and Simul-ring for the phone device.

    ACE itself like Microsoft UCMA which will run either on a Lync Front-End or it's own server, provides the APIs for these packages to run, no media goes through the ACE server just like no media goes through UCMA, it's an API. There are additional packaged solutions and development templates/starter packages for apps like Salesforce.com, SAP, Oracle, and support for Jabber, Sametime, IBM Busines Process Manager, and others. Additionally ACE supports sequence-based applications and also provides presence aggregation from any SIP source including Lync if a customer decides to enable Avaya Aura as the communications core, but still wants to support a multi-vendor environment for clients and additional server solutions.

    The Sipera acquistion was absolutely for edge services for not only Avaya UC solutions but also customers that still own IP and TDM phone devices so that VPN is not the only option. Btw, what is wrong with VPN anyway?

    Again, the Lync platform is definitely innovative and provides a unique and innovative end-user experience, but Microsoft still believes that the best strategy is a Microsoft holistic one and therein lies Microsoft's issue and one of the main reasons I had to support additional technologies for our customers because not every user runs Windows for God's sake. End-users want a choice of OS and choice of Device and to add, communications aren't always going to stem from Microsoft Windows applications like Outlook or Lync itself. Users should be able to stem collaboration from video conference windows, mobile devices that support true FMC/awareness, not just sign-in capability, as well as social networking sites and this entire solution should be available to developers to customize for use on any platform or device not just Windows with Lync running in the background via UI Suppression Mode or for normal use. It's not ideal and doesn't resonate with customers when they find out that making a Microsoft UC holistic architecture investment will lock them into an environment that is only pro-Microsoft. Customers that work in the real world, demand real solutions, and they better be compliant, reliable, and open because this stuff changes by the minute.

  22. Hi Joe,
    Unlike some of the other proACE comments you actually truly thought through your response which is great to see. Also thanks to the shout out at the start of your comments its always nice to be recognized in that manner.

    Part of me feels compelled to go through your comments line by line and there is quite a few things I agree with you on but at the end of the day you summoned up what ACE combined with the One-X client is really about. Hold off until Flare can compete with Lync. See below:

    “It’s really a great solution because it does not interfere with the Lync end-user experience, provides the organization with protection on the investments they’ve already made in Avaya CM, SM, etc., and more importantly will allow users a choice of desktop and mobile solutions with Lync and One-X until Flare is available in mid-2012 to add to the mix”

    So I am not going to go through your entire comment but as we have already established with other comments ACE does interfere with the end user experience of Lync and your message basically is preserve your legacy until Avaya comes out with something better. As much as you have tried to curve your Avaya V Microsoft message its basically the same said differently.

  23. Hi Joe,
    Seems that the complexity of ACE and understanding its real value is an issue. The fact remains it adds desktop complexity through plugins and Lync supports more than Windows. I think if you take a look around Joe most of the applications and integration you mention is actually available for Lync from Microsoft or Microsoft Partners such as Damaka who have developed clients for Android, iPhone etc and guess what it’s not a suppressed UI.
    I never said there was anything wrong with VPN’s but a majority of organizations choose to use Lync edge services for remote access capabilities rather than VPN for Lync and its something that ACE or One-X doesn’t support and I am not in a position to predict what Avaya will or won’t do with acquisitions so the answer right now is it doesn’t support it.

    Again you are making lots of assumptions about the capabilities of UCMA which are incorrect similar to your Network World blog post. In the end the true value to ACE is much less to the organization deploying it and more to Avaya stalling while it develops Flare to be able to compete with Lync.

  24. A very interesting debate. Thank you Joe and Chris (and others).

    I would like to step back and look at a premise Joe advances when he writes "The complexity and hardship really comes into play when the customer is trying to address both business and technical communications and collaboration challenges by selecting a single vendor that can provide the answer, when the answer is that there is not one single vendor in this market who can do that and we all know it."

    I believe that often a single vendor solution may in fact better meet a customer's overall needs.

    No single vendor can do everything however few customers need every feature. And even if they do, the increased complexity, cost and potentially reduced user experience may mean a multi-vendor solution actually meets less of the customer's overall needs.

    I am not suggesting that the single vendor need be Microsoft with Lync and Exchange UM. Perhaps it could be Cisco or Avaya.

    This is a common theme in my NoJitter posts http://www.nojitter.com/author/posts/6987 and the multi-vendor proposed panacea is clearly questioned in "The Integration Myth": http://www.ucguys.com/2009/11/the-integration-myth.html.

    While the whole concept of multi-vendor Session Management is exciting (conceptually) I commented about my serious concerns in response to this article which suggested that Session Management was the "linchpin of next-gen communications" http://www.nojitter.com/post/231902620/session-management-101-the-linchpin-of-nextgen-communications.

    ACE was always a good concept however it does not necessarily best address a specific customer's requirements.

  25. I HAVE A UNIQUE IDEA - Rather than focus on disparaging 2 wonderful companies, why don't we all focus on what's best for the customer?

    Many of you know me - I ended my 30-yr career at Avaya as National Director of Public Sector & Healthcare, and after 2 years at Microsoft's largest Voice Integrator (100,000+ Voice seats), I am now at one of North America's largest overall Voice Integrators. Why not focus on how Avaya & Microsoft are "BETTER TOGETHER"? There are 15 known functions/platforms that make up the elements of UC. Some (i.e., Call Processing & Contact Center, etc.) where (per Gartner and the Del'Oro market share reports) Avaya is the clear leader. Then there are other components of UC (i.e., IM, Presence, PTP Video (including Skype)) where Microsoft is the clear leader. Isn't it all of our collective responsibilities to focus on what the customer is trying to achieve in their organization, and then leverage their current infrastructure investments, to achieve that goal? After 33 years in this business, there are 2 things I do know: 1) No one company is ever going to be the best at everything; 2) If we all stay focused on integrating and leveraging the customer's existing infrastructure investments to achieve the desired objective - we will have all served the customer better. Avaya's International Users Group (IAUG) recently asked us to present this concept, and the customer's loved "AVAYA & MICROSOFT - BETTER TOGETHER". These presentations are now posted @ http://www.iaug.org/e/in/eid=29&source=5

    I think "the end-user' objectives" should be our focus. How we achieve the desired result will be defined (and with which products/interfaces) is a debate that may never end. Kevin Kennedy (Avaya President) & Scott Brown (Microsoft Voice VP) are leading wonderful companies, with wonderful solutions that can work very nicely, TOGETHER. Respectfully.

  26. Exactly Bob.

    No solution is inherently better for a customer.

    A solution is "good" because it meets the defined customer requirements. A solution is "better" if it meets more specific customer requirements.

    Focus first on documenting and prioritizing customer requirements. Then evalaute options, including Microsoft alone, Avaya alone, different integration options (Aura, AES, SES, etc.) and perhaps even other vendors.

    Do the evaluation transparently and let the facts direct the ideal solution for the specific customer situation.

    Debating merits of one solution in abscence of defined criteria is, well, simply "marketing".

  27. Kevin,
    Here - here!

    You summed it up perfectly, when you said "... Debating merits of one solution in abscence of defined criteria is, well, simply "marketing"."

    And IMHO, the criteria is defined by listening to the customer's desired objectives.

  28. Hi Kevin and Bob,

    You both make very valid points. My whole intention with this post is to bring to attention the true intent of ACE and the way Avaya is proposing to remove all licensing except for Stand Cal. The fact remains that ACE is not a true replacement of all the capabilities of what Lync. I know Avaya keeps hiding behind the thin veil of let’s do what best for the customer but to me this is most certainly not the best advice to give to a customer. Would you agree?

    The fact is ACE intention is to stall Lync Enterprise Voice deployments and better positions Flare later in 2012 as Joe himself said. Joe also said “Bottom line, there is absolutely no need to provide a SIP trunk from a PBX into Lync.” Is this also great advice to give to a customer? This is an Avaya Executive clearly outlining the purpose and direction of Avaya. Introduce ACE to make way for Flare.

    The information above is all taken from Joe's comments. I never mentioned any of these items in my blog post or did they arise until an Avaya Exec decided to put skin in the game. So in the end I have to agree with you to disagree. I agree customer requirements come first but lets get on a level playing field and talk about whats real and whats not when Avaya comes and position Flare as the answer to Lync capabilities.

  29. @Joe Schurman Joe as a large Avaya partner, I'm elated to hear you reference Avaya's new open minded approach to Microsoft, as I have customers that have asked for Lync with and without ACE, also with direct SIP integration utilzing Exchange UM. To date I have not been able to service these customers without the threats and fear that Avaya is going to pull my "loyalty" bonus. Ultimately the the work gets done by another partner and they are typically not Avaya friendly.

    I look forward to hearing more from Avaya that will allow us as channel partners to better serve our customers and how Avaya is willing to work with Microsoft, ultimately we need to allow the market will decide the outcome.

  30. Chris,

    Kudos for a post that has generated lots of interesting, passionate and thought-provoking comments from a collection of very experienced individuals!

    Yes, it is clear that Avaya ACE is designed to maximize the footprint of Avaya in an account and minimize the footprint of Microsoft (i.e. limit MSFT to Standard CAL). The same is also true of the CuciMOC and CuciLync products/strategies from Cisco.

    Microsoft of course engages in aggressive bundling to try and keep others at bay while expanding their footprint.

    This is to be expected as telephony/communications/collaboration/UC -- or whatever you want to call it -- are huge markets and Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft and others are all worthy competitors.

    So, while I agree that neither ACE integrated with Lync nor Cisco (CuciLync) integrated with Lync offers the same capabilities of the native Lync (Enterprise CAL) product. I do allow for the fact that perhaps a specific customer set of requirements would lead to one of these complex integrations being the best possible option -- however, in all the options analysis I have conducted to date for many Enterprise customers, when a detailed analysis compared to customer requirements has been conducted, the results have never (so far) suggested a client-side or complex multi-vendor strategy was in the best interest of my customers.

    Sometimes a primarily Avaya solution best alignedc with customer requirements, sometimes it was a Cisco solution, sometimes it was a Microsoft solution.

    To me it seems each of the vendor platform has some key attributes and that trying to integrate/mix/meld multiple platforms ends up diluting the positive and often accentuating the negative.

    A great bottle of white wine mixed with a wonderful bottle of red does not often yield even a drinkable rose.

  31. @Joe, you yourself wrote 6 months ago in "Evaluating Avaya and Microsoft Unified Communications Offers":

    "Since Avaya ACE is a middleware platform, it operates independently... "


    "there are still lingering questions as to the Avaya UC offering. Concerns around Total Cost of Ownership
    (TCO) are at the top of this list of questions as enterprise organizations struggle to shrink their bottom line. "

    So *now* you say it's not middleware and in this economy people need jobs so don't throw out your investment (even though it has a way higher TCO).

    I appreciate the "let's all get along" attitude, the fact is that slathering on the "best of breed" voice solution with ACE breaks the "best of breed" UC solution for the customer and is self serving for Avaya, not the customer.

  32. Previous things Joe has also said:

    "Microsoft, nobody else, only Microsoft, can provide such a platform of features; the must haves and the wants, to compete with telecommunications systems and UC solutions today and it is Microsoft, only Microsoft, who can provide what Gartner and others have clarified as the major differentiator in the Unified Communications war; what sets a provider from the rest and that war will be won through the power of software."


    "Microsoft is one of two vendors I know of that makes the process of deploying a unified communications platform as least complicated as possible"


    "Application integration. Microsoft Lync brings an elegant and integrated suite of solutions, but enabling the ability to create CEBP applications is why I invested three years of my life, my life savings, and time away from my family in starting my firm, Evangelyze Communications. Our start-up firm is focused on the development of CEBP applications and Microsoft has enabled our firm to create a suite of these applications and already sell two of these applications by way of IP acquisition. My vision is to create unique CEBP-based applications in contact center/customer service, education and health care, as well as provide integrated solutions for unique line-of-business applications. Leveraging the UCMA API and Lync Server/client SDKs, we can deliver highly innovative solutions to the marketplace."


    Two articles that make some interesting reading, although in the Redmond Mag article Joe is complimentry towards Avaya and ACE in his defence.

  33. Chris, Joe, Anon, Bob, Kevin, thanks for contributing to a great dialog and maintaining an air of professionalism. It really helps to understand the dialog better.

  34. The best solution is a single vendor solution that meets all customer demands.

    Integrating solutions by changing the user experience with add on and plug in software is often very problemetic. The place to integrate should be done on the backend between platforms and not on the user workspace.

    So without naming any product this is my standpoint in this.

  35. PART 1

    I appreciate the pasting my commentary from previous interviews. I am not in any way retracting what I said during the Redmond Mag interview & if you noticed, I mentioned both Avaya & Microsoft in that interview as well. There are definitely both pros & cons to both solutions which is why my focus is on the customer leveraging a multi-vendor approach. I do not agree with a single-vendor approach unless the vendor enables communications architecture either on-premise, cloud-based, or hybrid that supports end-user applications & devices based on their choice with vpn-based or remote access services. Both Microsoft & Avaya provide similar solutions from that perspective. What I also do not agree with is either vendor trashing the other & spreading miscommunication of solutions provided by either vendor based on either lack of knowledge or from zealous intent which I am also guilty of myself. During my time supporting only Microsoft-focused solutions I knew very little about the Avaya platform & only after not being able to meet my customer's needs for a non-Windows or non-Silverlight based end-user platform did I have to research what solutions were out there to support such a solution did I find ACE to be the right solution. Once identified, I & two other developers looked further into the solution as the solution provided the end-user with a Linux-based solution that would work for their requirements which Microsoft had zero support for & I did not want to lose the opportunity as there were facets of the project that still required Lync so I was very happy to see that these services would in fact work together which took me down this path of providing a best of breed architecture away from my initial focus only on Microsoft technologies. I agree with Thomas that the development is not as easily laid out like other Microsoft Visual Studio-based environments from an IDE perspective, but the solution provides what is required to meet the requirements that are needed along with documentation & templates. If it were up to me, there would be tighter integration with ACE & the MSDN Network & it would behoove both Microsoft & Avaya to work together on this to provide that same experience that developers are used to in a continuous IDE workflow that Microsoft provides through Visual Studio & include additional forum-based & online template-based solutions & samples as developers are used to seeing from MSDN along with videos, training, etc, because both UCMA & ACE together fill a complete package for the end-user.

  36. PART 2

    Regarding the additional copy & paste of my comments from the Avaya article, I can send you the original draft, but note that this article was paid for, published, & edited by Avaya. ACE is not a media relay solution by which audio, video, voice, & data are managed. Communications Manager, Communications Server, & Session Manager provide that capability. ACE, like UCMA is a development platform server solution that provides the APIs for developers to leverage to develop their own solutions from & then in addition to this both Microsoft & Avaya offer SDKs which are the client-side or server-side kits that include controls & classes that allow developers to create end-user solutions that will run on certain platforms which is why I was talking about the Lync SDK with respect to requiring Windows & the UCMA API not having the ability to place a video, voice, or audio control at a client level across all operating systems & devices. There is no confusion there. I have read every UCMA book, online article, & worked with the CEBP development team at Microsoft & have had a number of meetings & calls where the issue of not providing an API for anything beyond IM & Presence control was the topic. It's just not there yet, but am sure it will be in the future, if not the near future. You can however have almost complete control of these modalities if you leverage the Lync Client SDK, which provides the easiest experience for developers to literally drag & drop Lync controls onto the screen with online & free samples to start from as well, but again, this requires Windows for the end-user to render which does not provide end-users the ability to have that experience on iOS, Droid, or even Windows Phone devices, nor the ability to leverage from a web-based user interface.

    As a literal example, EC has a product called SmartChat that was in development & released through 3 revisions, the fourth coming by December 15th, that provides the best, in my opinion :), live chat solution in the market. The product just makes sense for any organization wanting to add live, presence-enabled agent-based chat to their website without buying a $100K USD+ contact center application. Initially the solution was written leveraging Communicator for the Agent leveraging a window extension/tab that had a series of plug-ins based on features including an Audio/Video application plug-in as UCMA did not support A/V either. This plug-in was originally written leveraging Flash through a Flash Media Server. Our prospective / pilot customers loved this & we did make a few sales based on this feature-set alone.

  37. PART 3

    As OCS R2 was released, we had become more successful as a partner & Microsoft never like the fact that we were using Flash for this solution & had mentioned many times to simply get rid of it or never mention it in a presentation with the customer. When we upgraded our code architecture & client interface to prepare for what was coming with Lync leveraging Silverlight, we removed the feature in favor of our partnership with Microsoft because a lot of our projects were funded as a partner & we were still in many pilots with customers who had or wanted to leverage SmartChat but had not fully deployed OCS or were waiting for Lync. Slightly before the Lync release, we finalized our Rev 3 solution which was SmartChat for Lync with additional features, but still no video or audio for the agent, investigating ways to provide it through Silverlight as we could still not provide the solution through UCMA. We could on the client-side leveraging Lync & Windows using the Lync SDK, but the web visitor/customer having the chat would have to have the audio/video streamed or managed by the Lync A/V MCU server somehow or brokered through another streaming source. We looked into many solutions available in the market, but none provided the stability that we needed to provide to our customers that now included global financial services customers, global manufacturers, transportation providers, healthcare providers & hospitals, & universities. We lost several deals because of not having audio & video as well. Finally, with over 100 customers piloting the software, not making any money/revenue & facing the possibility of losing my company altogether, I dropped off of payroll to keep EC alive until which time we had a solution that could move from pilot to production & allowed the company to use funding not to pay me, but pay for the features our customers needed including the capability of offering A/V through ACE. Finally, something clicked. It's ok to provide a multi-vendor solution if it makes sense for the customer & I have finally come to realize after many, many onsite & remote meetings with some of the largest companies in the world, that this is what is necessary to provide innovation & support for current & future communications trends & technologies.

    Now, what I have a problem with is an organization, more importantly a sales team from an organization, that spreads false information either based on lack of knowledge & experience, or as is usual with any sales rep, simply trying to close the deal, forcing the customer down a path that does not meet all of their needs & closes off the capability for any future integration, more importantly innovation, for their end-users.

  38. PART 4

    Personally, I am impressed with solutions from Microsoft, Avaya, & Cisco & I have also provided extensive research on Vidyo which by far is the coolest VDI & Telepresence solution that I have seen outside of Polycom, mainly due to the end-user focus but also enabling a video gateway server solution without needing any on-prem MCU, eZuce, an Open Source UC platform that is also very unique & gaining a lot of momentum, BroadSoft Cloud UC services & on-prem solutions for both mid-market & SMB, & several others. & just so everyone knows, I still use Lync on a daily basis as Avaya still uses Communicator as it's a perfect solution for IM&P & ad-hoc conferencing. EC uses Lync with Intelepeer which has worked great for our organization. I also love Avaya Flare running on my iPad & one-X on my iPhone (not on my desktop) so bottom line, there is value in every single one of these technologies & an enterprise organization who needs to focus on stability, security, resiliency, cost, & more importantly access across a wide range of operating systems, applications, & devices can benefit from a multi-vendor approach without complexity if the organization is advised with the appropriate method by which to implement as well as license.

    Anyway, yet another long-winded note from me but I think you get my point. Apologies for replacing every “and” with “&” too, just trying to fit it all in!

  39. Sorry Joe. For some reason Blogspot has a bad habit making things as Spam it shouldnt. Just post once and I will sort it out for you.

  40. @Joe So going from your last comment in particular this passage:

    "Now, what I have a problem with is an organization, more importantly a sales team from an organization, that spreads false information either based on lack of knowledge & experience, or as is usual with any sales rep, simply trying to close the deal, forcing the customer down a path that does not meet all of their needs & closes off the capability for any future integration, more importantly innovation, for their end-users."

    I take it you do not endorse Avaya's approach of telling a organization if you have ACE you only need Std Cal because as we have established ACE does not cover Ent CAL features. Correct?? Because to me this behviour is exactly what you described.

  41. @Joe
    If Avaya is so customer focused on making multi vendor environments work, then why are they not part of the UCIF?

  42. @Joe

    I worked for a major PBX manufacturer on VoIP and UC from 2000-2008. I'm sure they are less than thrilled with many of the public comments I have made about OCS/Lync in the last three years. Indeed when I first joined them I was very excited and thought they had the best technology especially early in my tenure there. I was also later on internally very critical of certain aspects of the solution and management's direction, so I understand the joy of finding another solution that personally aligns with what I always felt was right. As a customer of EC, I know I was one of the people wanting Voice and Video with SmartChat. Having trying to run my own business in the past, I also know the pain of having it fail. So, to the extent possible, I know where you are coming from. And, unlike some, I didn't begrudge you for going to Avaya, you did what you felt was right for your family.

    Now, try to understand from my point of view. You know I touted *you* and your solution to management. Imagine my surprise that I get an E-mail from a Cisco rep using your Network World story as propaganda. Imagine me having to go through it, point by point, showing the blatantly false statements (that you well know are false, like having to split the FE roles onto separate servers) to the same management I touted you to. You not only put out false and misleading statements, but you used your clout, that MS helped you get, to give them credibility. I can't imagine doing that. I partly owe my career to the experience I got working at that company.

    I've personally gotten the pitch from Avaya reps that we can drop to standard CALs and enjoy the same functionality if we deploy ACE, so I know this is exactly the truth that this is the way it is sold.

    Kudos to you if you now understand why some people are upset and feel betrayed with your FUD spreading, but to dismiss it on one hand and continue to do it in the other...seriously, how is anyone ever supposed to believe anything you say?

  43. @Joe

    I feel like a newcomer to lync community see i hesitate to speak up in the presence of those with a lot more insight. ;-)

    1st, I want to a say a thanks for the huge effort you are putting into trying to explain your position here. You obviously are passionate about UC and CEBP.

    One recurring question i keep having that might bring something new to this conversation: What if Microsoft would deliver the ability to do A/V through UCMA (or some audio/video sdk which did not require Lync on endpoints and did not require silverlight on endpoints), which could be delivered to wide variety of endpoints (web, iOS, iPad, Android, WindowsPhone, Linux, more, etc) then would ACE be much less compelling in your mind?

    I need to admit (as a shade-tree developer) I, and I'm sure other dev's, would highly welcome what is described above. I need to say that I reviewed Smartchat and passed it over because it required silverlight on the public user's endpoint...

    Also @VoipNorm, thanks a lot for starting this conversation. I am enjoying it immensely and probably retweeting it soo often @patrichard will probably disown me on twitter. ;-) Obviously i'm lync biased. ;-)

    I get the feeling that Joe is focusing on ACE for enhancing Lync by having ACE help deliver the Lync Audio/Video experience to a wider variety of devices and customizations. It appears you are focusing more on the aspect of ACE as a way to integrate existing equipment (avaya) to Lync and for preserve existing systems, which is perhaps making it so you two are not quite answering/meeting each other points?

    just a suggestion (and likely wrong) from someone listening from the sidelines. once again all, thanks.

  44. @thomas kisner just a note: I didn't see your post before i posted.

  45. -@Matt No problem. It's a legitimate question whether or not Joe would feel differently if UCMA had exactly what he wanted, or if the product group wouldn't have told him "no" when he asked for this. I too know how that feels...

    By the way, in general, there are a number of solutions out there to get Lync to other non-windows non-native endpoints. Joe knows this as he created one in SmartSIP. Some are better than others. It's difficult, in my option, to justify ACE for Microsoft as any kind of value proposition at this point, especially for that reason. Your trading a lot of valuable Lync functionality to add on the Avaya voice solution on top that is likely (you'll have to investigate your costs) more expensive in Maintenace and other on-going costs. There are certain senerios that customers will need or want some of their Avaya endpoints, but I think SIP trunking the two systems together is the best way to achive interoperability.

  46. Part 1
    The telecom business is full of old foxes that want to protect themself rather than looking at the customers real needs and taking todays date and year into that account.
    At one of my previous employees we sold Avaya, Cisco and Microsoft solutions and the team responsible for Unified Communications was mostly pushing Cisco or Avaya, well that’s fine if it was for the cause that the customer was gaining something extra for the 30-60% they paid instead of choosing OCS for the same features but at a lower cost. And in many cases they managed to sell both a new Avaya and Lync and said to the trusting customer that this would be “better together” but what they meant by that was that it was waaaaay better for us because we got better bonuses.

    It’s not 1876 anymore and the business models needs to change, I really get that a lot of enterprises have made huge investments into their phone calling infrastructure.
    But just a phone call is not enough anymore.
    I want to start a conversation at work in Facebook and then switch that over to messages when I’m in the lift on my way to the car and when I’m in the car I want to continue the same conversation where I left of, but in voice. And when I get home I want to continue this conversation, but in HD video.

    All of this is not in place yet (Where is that Facebook integration???), but the communication model in Lync is almost as seamless for the end user as I described. We can go from Email to Voice to Video to desktop sharing in five clicks. And this is why I (and my customers) love Lync.

  47. Part 2

    But daily I talk to customers that have talked to their old phone vendor and they got fed with FUD on Lync, that it doesn’t have this and that feature (that no one except the senior phone infrastructure manager even knows exists) and they want me to assure that this and that works…
    But they also needs to protect the pension plan, I mean in many cases it’s some other people that would manage Lync, like the IT guys or the Exchange guy and they eat strange food, so most of the time these two characters don’t even go to the same lunch restaurants.

    But in most of the cases the (missing?) feature is actually in Lync but from a UC perspective, not from the 1876 phone perspective.
    We have to step out from the phone booth and see how people want to communicate today and in the near future.

    And really, I mean it when I say that most of the things that people say are missing in Lync are actually there.

    So, I feel sad when it has to come to this but @Joe why did you have to lie?

    What Thomas described happened to me as well, a large corp CIO sent me your article and asked me to comment and asked me why I have lied to them?!?!?
    I mean you do know that what you wrote in that article wasn’t correct right?
    And it did cause a lot of lost sleep for me, and I hold you personally accountable for 8 hours of lost life.

  48. Part 3

    But let’s get back to my point.
    Why use Lync at all in this case?
    Let’s say we have invested 1 million $ in old Avaya infrastructure and now what?
    Use Lync just to send IM?
    It’s a lot of complexity involved here just to send IMs. There must be some Avaya or Cisco or whatever IM client that are better integrated in those systems than Lync are, or?

    Cause what some are saying is, that if you use CUCILync or ACE you would only need the Standard CAL! And that would give IM only in Lync, but it would kill all the other great features.
    So, well a lot of my customers have ended up buying the Enterprise CAL anyway just for the desktop sharing and conferencing.

    The greatness in Lync is that it’s so simple for the end users to work with over all modalities.

    @Joe you write “I still use Lync on a daily basis as Avaya still uses Communicator as it's a perfect solution for IM&P & ad-hoc conferencing. EC uses Lync with Intelepeer which has worked great for our organization. I also love Avaya Flare running on my iPad & one-X on my iPhone (not on my desktop)”

    So you are using:
    Lync on your computer for IM/P & ad hoc conferencing (this means the Lync standard + enterprise cal )
    Avaya Flare running on my iPad (I’m not sure on the licensing for this, but is it free?)
    one-X on my iPhone (again, not really sure on the price)

    You are actually using at least three different clients for your so called unified communication, that would require 3x training, patch management, licensing and so on… I mean is this what you mean by saying “MS & Avaya Better Together”?
    And how do I transfer a call back and forward over these devices? Would my mom be able to do it? (Probably not, so no one else would either) But she does manage to run Lync without any training and also does video in Lync and in Live Messenger to see her granddaughter sometime.

    But I’m not saying that Lync is perfect, far from it. But my experience so far with these add-ons have been that when we try to add something that are actually not built to make Lync better, rather to move functions away and disabling functions, this will in the end only add complexity to the system for us to manage, support, plan for future and the users will hate it because they can’t use it as intended anyway.

  49. Hi Everyone,

    Thank you to the amazing response to this post and the comments. Sorry I haven't responded to everyones comments (there have been to many) but I have been reading them all and tweeting as the comments come in. Please keep the comments coming.


  50. In summary a single-vendor platform for UC seems best as mixing modilities via plugins is complex. Challenge customers have is that not all vendors offer all workloads. Some specialize in point solutions (whether its voice, conferencing, etc.) so they depend on this plug-in model to fullfil their own portfolio. Microsoft does offer all workloads, and even though that may not be superior in the voice workload, with a software platform that's easy to fix. From a cost perspective, Microsoft wins. From a tried-and-proven perspective on voice, Avaya wins, at a significant cost however. If I was investing in a software-powered UC platform, my bet would be on a pure-play Microsoft long-term. Cisco does a great job with voice, but has a hodge-podge of acquired add-ons making it a clugy UC platform, but a great point-solution play (especially WebEX). Avaya to me is not a software company. Never will be.

  51. Chris,

    I agree with you. You are providing a forum for the most difficult topic that customers are dealing with today and I'll be honest, it's nice to have us all contributing and not bashing one another.

    With that, here are some points/comments below to address comments from @tommy and @matt. I know both Thomas' well so thanks for the input there guys, much appreciated and will address some things stated there as well as follows:

    1. I am only focusing this conversation around ACE being an enabler/integrator to supply the missing capabilities of the UCMA API to enable solutions that require a full API for Audio/Video/Enterprise Voice from a CEBP perspective, but from a leveraging an existing device and delivering Enterprise Voice to the end-user through Lync, it's a requirement for existing Avaya customers. Direct SIP as a solution there makes no sense to me even though it's possible. #1-you're still removing the customer's investment and use in their IP or TDM phones, #2-you're taking away features that Avaya provides that Lync doesn't as mentioned above, #3-you're not offering a solution to enable the customer's choice to move from on-prem to online as there is no migration path for this that i know of that Microsoft provides today as there is no migration path between LCS-OCS-Lync that has always been a sore subject as well, and #4-you are limiting additional capabilities available in the marketplace today like FMC and additional CEBP application capabilities that are possible through ACE and not through UCMA.

    2. If I was really able to provide a wish list of solutions to provide a communications core solution through Lync, what would have to be done is to #1-continue to support RCC (Toggle and Direct access to the existing IP Phone) whether you acquire SmartSIP from NET or build it back into the platform in addition to the new Lync devices giving the customer a choice, #2-Add a full API for Audio, Video, and Enterprise Voice to UCMA and help with some solution to enable streaming to/from the Lync A/V MCU for CEBP providers, #3-Enable Fixed Mobile Convergence features to the Lync Mobile client for iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Nokia, and Droid to not just enable sign-in capability, but true location awareness and either policy-enforced (GPO) or user-driven actions based on the change in those locations to enable conversation hand-off to/from a mobile, tablet, desktop, or phone device client. #4-Build a utility to migrate CAC and Dial-Plan policies to the Lync Mediation Server Control Panel through some kind of “BizTalk-esque”, hopefully someone remembers BizTalk , solution where Voice Engineers are not left hung out to dry, #5-A true video solution that migrates usage paths from ad-hoc and VDI to Telepresence, to Video federation, and to cloud, #6-offer a cloud and on-prem solution to offer customers a choice of volume licensing or subscription-based models, #7-Offer a Lync Telephony Convergence MCU (AKA SmartSIP) that would allow existing SIP clients and Phones as endpoints to enable choice, but mainly migration easier, #8-Move away from Silverlight and provide HTML5 UI elements, controls, classes, and sample apps, #9-I have a great idea for contextual collaboration while in conference or even P2P calls/conferences so that you can do something cooler with speech recognition than just IVR, and #10-give me funding to create a team to build and release it! Bottom line, it’s pie in the sky and wishful thinking so to be realistic, we have to co-exist and we have to leverage customer’s existing investments as mentioned many times before.

  52. 3. Regarding products I use today, I use both Lync and Avaya and would use both Lync and Cisco if that were my backend. I had been using Lync with an ITSP before and was tired of calls being dropped due to what was either contributed to PC issues (although I had the latest HP state-of-the-art EliteBook with maxed out 8GB RAM), constant Bluetooth problems with multiple headsets, or problems where our Lync Mediation Server needed to be rebooted although we were running on a new Lync server environment with a very small subset of users with the latest HP Proliant servers following the Lync Hardware Guidance documentation to specification and configured by one of, if not the best, engineers in the industry, Joe Flynn! So with that and because I provide a ton of speeches and cannot afford to have dropped calls when I’m meeting with the level of customers I have been supporting via conference or P2P voice calls, I started using my Samson G-Track HiFi Microphone as my mic input for Lync, Bose Speakers for audio (solution caused zero feedback and was crystal clear) to avoid the Bluetooth issues or sounding like I was in a cave or tunnel half the time using the latest Headsets provided by a vendor I will not name because I still like them very much, and then due to dropped calls or other issues mentioned above, moved audio to my landline phone in my home office, and eventually after working for Avaya, integrated my Avaya communications leveraging Lync for just IM & Presence and Desktop Sharing. I use One-X on my iPhone because I love the iPhone and there is no Lync mobile solution out for it yet and to my knowledge the new Lync iPhone/iPad solution will not have FMC that One-X has had for years as well as One-X has direct access to my Communications Manager voicemail and provides me with the FMC services I like and I choose. For me, it’s a current best of breed solution and provides me with the features I need to do my job. Do I have Enterprise Social Networking integration yet like I provided to Telligent for Lync through EC, no. Do I have speech command and contextual collaboration capabilities that I want from a mixture of Lync speech services (formerly Speech Server), Aurix, or my favorite and wish to God someone would leverage it, Siri, no. Do I have a mobile or tablet solution that I can toggle between user experiences/devices, no. But it’s what works for me and it’s what works for the thousands of customers out there that have already paid for this stuff. Not everybody has billions of dollars in cash on hand like Microsoft does which is why I don’t understand that with the UCG becoming a pillar of the company, why Ballmer won’t through the amount of funding needed over to add these features to the platform to support enterprise customer choice. To me, that is still Mid-Market mentality and expected from a vendor that only focuses on that market segment. Once the realization sets in that customers have a blended multi-vendor environment and Microsoft wants that core business, maybe that position/investment will change. Today, Shockley and Kennedy are investing in the customer with technology that works and provides protection on their investments while embracing innovative products like Lync and they are introducing new products like Flare for iPhone/iPad that can also co-exist in the same platform. That’s all I’m trying to state in these long-winded detailed notes. I’d love to say more, and maybe soon I can, but that’s all I have right now.

    Ok, gotta go spend time with the family now and run to the Apple Store. Developing a really cool, well at least my teenagers think it’s cool, iOS app. Really sucks that Apple forces XCode dev on just a Mac. Maybe someone should talk to those guys about co-existence. Kidding! They do! Take care guys, have a good weekend too!

  53. Let's go back a few years to the 80s. Let's trade "UC" for "PC".

    I have a large amount of expensive typewriters. Best of breed. I'm putting in new computers, but my typewriter company tells me instead of wasting money on buying keyboards, I should buy a special cable to connect my typewriter to my computer to protect my investment in Typewriters. But, the typewriter doesn't have all the keys that a computer keyboard does, so I lose the ability to do everything I could with the computer.

    This is the logic here.

    Instead of putting the computer and typewriter side by side for those pesky triplicate forms and labels and stuff that there were no solutions or replacement for yet (and trim down the number of typewriters to only people who needed them for those tasks) - you go with the "better together" approach?

    P.S. My typewriter company is working as hard as it can to get into the PC business.

  54. I understand the concept, but both vendors are enabling IP solutions. The Lync Mediation Server is an IP-PBX and Communications Manager is an IP-PBX. No reason to have redundancy especially when the Mediation Server is closer to the typewriter in this example. Avaya has had a software comm environment for years, this is V1 for Microsoft, V2 if you count RP. Avaya is not just a hardware company. It has less client features and has many other issues under the hood that I mentioned before in other articles and blogs. Telling an Aura/CM customer you're wanting to downgrade their features, increase management complexity, and close off their development capabilities is not the right decision. Bottom line, the customer takes priority and if you cannot be innovate yet provide a migration strategy that includes co-existence, there is no ROI no matter what the TCO is.

  55. Writing is terrible on my mobile, apologies.

  56. @Joe

    First, I didn't mean to make my analogy seem hardware centric. Only that the computer (Lync) can do many many things and well (IM/Presence/Voice/Video/Conferencing/Collaboration/Etc.) and the Typewriter (Avaya) could do one (Voice).

    If you make this about VoIP and IP-PBX versions, then you can say Avaya CM is on V1 (V2 if you count SES) of a SIP platform, as previously it was an H.323 platform. That said, the quantity of features for voice is higher. However, many are irrelevant in the world of UC where a click of the mouse has taken the place of dialing a feature code on the phone. Most people will gladly take that "downgrade". However, when you glue on Avaya Voice with ACE to Lync, you lose a lot of those features which Chris has pointed out here.

    Admittedly, there are scenarios and customers that Lync isn't a good fit yet, like say hospitality- but it can easily fill the needs of a great many business customers. I'm not here to claim Lync is perfect either.

    Having actually worked on an Avaya systems before, I'd say it's rather dubious (and a vague) claim to say Avaya is less complex to manage. There are many different servers in Aura/CM solution that have completely separate, non-centralized management. Lync, with a couple of exceptions, has centralized management.

    Again, you have hammered away at a feature in UCMA that you would like to have. It is quite exaggeration to say that the lack of this will "close off their development capabilities". UCMA is a very powerful platform that's free to use, a freely available download, and 100% royalty free to the developer. Visual Studio is your only cost, and if you can pull it off with C# Express even that is free.

    How many of those things are true of ACE?

    Even though you have dismissed it several times, one strategy of co-existence is SIP trunking, like putting the computer next to the typewriter. When you eliminate the need for the typewriter, you take it away. ROI in part comes from all of the additional features the computer gave you that you didn't have before or paid for in other higher ways (plus not having to pay annual maintenance and upgrades on the typewriter when it's gone).

    You dismiss it because this isn't Avaya's best interest, of course.

    As you confirm again, "cannot be innovate yet provide a migration strategy that includes co-existence"

    Avaya's strategy is to give inferior co-existence under the guise that Avaya voice is more magical than Lync's voice all while breaking many of the features the customer would gain, while you work on innovating (Flare). Then you migrate. Got it.

  57. It's all about call controll.
    The system who owns the core telephony sells the most licenses / ports. If you have a product that can be in the middle o the telephony infrastructure (acting like gateways) sell twice the licenses / ports. Next to that selling ip phones for the propriatairy system is a huge business.

    This knowing and that the computer / laptop is now part of the telephony infrastructure is scary for traditional PBX vendors. This is scary cause of the strong possition and integration quality of Microsoft products and the ability to use USB for devices (eating theire ip phone revenue).

    This explains quite frankly why avaya, cisco and others find it very important to integrate on the workspace even when the desktop client is not of their own making.

    Since Lync provides in several communication solutions this fight is fought on all fronts. Video conferencing, web conferencing, audio conferencing, presence, mobile, CEBP etc. you name it.

    Lync is great because its strong in all fronts and truly unifies all communications pilars.

    Traditionally older vendors in this business are more about helping management layers protecting their "investment".

  58. @joe
    Seems to me your focus is solely on development of plugins and not on the end user experience. You also seem some what torn between whats right for the customer and the Avaya corporate line. In my opinion I think bygoing to Avaya you have gotten your self into a hot mess. Having customers make the claim you lied in your network world blog article which you gloss over is a big deal. To you it may have seemed as though you were just trying to get avaya back in the game but to others this was much more significant. Hopefully this rings some bells for you that spreading miss information doesnt get you far.

    As for your Lync issues let me know if you need a good deployment partner name sounds like you could do with some help.

    I am not going to address the FUD you have presented here because others including Avaya customers have done a great job of doing that for me.

  59. @Thomas, I love the typewriter versus PC analogy.

    @Joe, I just can't see how architecturally, any middleware (ACE/Aura) can possibly keep up and expose the features of the rapidly evolving connected endpoints.

    I thought this of ACE when it was a Nortel product and still think this now.

    As far as I know, the latest version of ACE does not treat OCS or Lync as a "full" Service Provider.

    You complain that the UCMA API does not expose all the features of Lync however I would argue that ACE exposes even fewer features.

    If you want to argue that the complete Avaya UC solution is superior to Lync, or someone wants to argue that the complete Cisco stack is the best so be it.

    However, integrating with another product (ACE+Lync or CuciLync) simply and solely to paint that other product into a (small) corner is very Sun-tzu: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

  60. This is all about the user experience while maintaining as simplified of an architecture as possible. Currently, Avaya has more voice end-user features and scalable architecture than Microsoft, but not from a data, conferencing, or desktop end-user feature perspective. One-X has more features than Lync from a FMC/voice mobile perspective, that's it. Not IM or any other collab features. So if Microsoft can add those capabilities now, not, do it, sell it, & I'll support it. But that is not what is available now. How can I get this through to you guys? I know you guys & you are both extremely intelligent. This is not about loving Microsoft or loving Avaya. This is a tactical discussion on what is best for the customer. I am not going to repeat myself yet again on this because that is my biggest pet peeve. So, to enable this capability, you have to, not should, you have to provide integration & right now that only capability is to leverage the existing investment in the IP PBX & the IP Phone devices but ensure that the user experience that Lync provides is not damaged but enhanced through technologies like ACE & SmartSIP.

    Case in point guys, I am actually ill right now. I have not told anyone about this until now, but I was extremely ill before providing work for Avaya in July & the physicians could not figure out what was going on. I have been in & out of the hospital for 6 months now & was in the ER last night. I have seen no less than 5 specialists & 3 ER doctors over the past year trying to diagnose this & I'm sure my problem has a lot to do with stress, but bottom line, having to physically go back & forth all across Houston like I had to with my daughter last year when we have the technical capability for physicians to leverage conferencing & collaboration for data as simple as sharing of patient records which I have to call to have faxed between hospitals & specialists offices, is literally ridiculous. I developed the concept for SmartCare out of this. Go to http://www.evangelyze.net & watch the Today in America Show cheesy marketing video of it as well as the info on the site under EC products as it's EC IP. This solution would help not only my daughter & I, but millions of others in nice cities rich with medical centers & top physicians as well as 3rd world countries. To deliver something like that, you cannot force a user to have a laptop running Windows. You have to deliver the experience across a UI that is either embedded or HTML5 or even HTML based. To do that you need APIs not SDKs unless those SDKs require executable files that can run on any core desktop or mobile OS. Right now ACE tops UCMA in that category h&s down. That's why I'm recommending it.

    @tommy or @kevin, not sure who stated this, maybe it was Thomas Kinser. Yes, if Microsoft added voice, video, and audio to the UCMA API & offered a solution to either allow us to provide streaming to/from the A/V MCU, we would have a full solution, but that only solves the CEBP issues. This does not solve the cost & feature set issues related to enterprise organizations. Again, I'm not going to repeat myself, but Microsoft cannot be so arrogant to expect enterprise organizations to just forget about their investments in their IP PBX to trade for another that has less voice features nor can it ignore the investment & support of existing corporate phone devices. Right now that solution requires ACE or if they don't care about feature loss & just want to be able to use the device, use SmartSIP.

    I'm out of energy for today & heading up to the hospital today for a fun few more days of diagnostics, I feel like a computer. Not asking for you to feel sorry for me or my family, just hoping that when you make statements related to the end-user, know that I am one of them.

  61. @Joe,

    1. I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say health and family come ahead of any technical discussion or debate. I wish you and yours well.

    2. Yes, customer requirements need to be considered first. That is why I see recommending a specific platform without specific customer requirements as just "marketing".

    3. I still do not know for sure if Aura Session manager supports Lync as a Service Provider. If so, what functions are available?

    4. I remain dubious that any "Session Manager" can keep up and support the features that are being introduced by all the SIP endpoint vendors. Nortel struggled to have ACE support even its endpoints. Now that Avaya has acquired ACE there are even more Avaya + Nortel PBXs/endpoints that need supporting. I see this as a daunting task.

  62. Part 1 What you have to understand Joe is just because it has more features doesn’t make it compelling enough to stay on that solution. The fact is I have had customers transition off of Avaya one-x to Communicator because the end user experience was terrible on One-x regardless of features.

    Here are a couple of things I noticed with ACE integration for Lync which you consider acceptable end user experience:

    Greyed out icons adding to end user confusion

    Escalation to a voice call requires the use of add on to the bottom of the window.

    No escalation path to video or desktop sharing from the conversation window since Avaya recommended configuration is to only license STD Cal and they have been removed through policy settings.

    You can only accept or decline an inbound call there is no way to redirect to another phone or voicemail

    You cannot use Lync audio conferencing using ACE with Lync AVMUC. This experience is totally broken.

    No conference controls when in an Avaya Audio conference from Lync with ACE

    No contact card integration or broader Office integration for click to call, your limited to the ACE plugin for Outlook and what it offers.

    No way to launch directly into a video or sharing session from right clicking the client.

    No visual voicemail and no seamless integration into Exchange UM or even Avaya MM platform

    No remote access capability

    Scheduled conferencing, I saw no click to conference capability only very basic and rudimentary telephony capabilities so I do not understand where you think this advanced voice features are in the ACE integration to Lync.

    These are just a few things I noticed through the utube video of ACE but I am sure there are countless more but let me guess this is all Microsoft fault because they don’t expose enough API’s. If I were to stand the native Lync experience next to the ACE experience there is no comparison. ACE is rudimentary integration at best. Does it allow a company to keep people tethered to a Legacy voice deployment? Yes. Does it add complexity to the desktop? Yes.

    You speak like a true sales guy that has no idea of the complexity of plugins at the desktop. This is kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul situation. We have made the telecom guys jobs all a little easier by not making them have to configure a new dial plan in Lync but at the same time you just added a desktop complexity to every workstation in the enterprise. Now Lync upgrades are totally dependent on the Avaya release cycle which is 12 months behind Microsoft at best, so while everyone else is upgrading to the latest release of Lync if you have ACE deployed you have to wait till Avaya is good and ready. So this is architecturally more complex to both manage and troubleshoot.

  63. Part 2
    I am not sure how a backend integration with Direct SIP is more difficult than standing up multiple ACE servers and deploying plugins to every desktop. Are you saying telecom people are not capable of learning a new system and dial plan? Because it certainly sounds like it. You also act as though I should be agreeing with your thoughts around Lync should allow every integration you mention because it what you deem best for the customer and that we all should agree with you. Having worked in one of the largest and most complex environments in the world at my last employer its clear to me that you have no clue around what it takes to configure and deploy 100,000 desktop clients both from an architectural or organizational perspective.

    As for your comment on scalability, another no clue comment that lines up well with your network world blog article along with calling the mediation server a IP-PBX which is not the role of mediation server but hey what do I know right. I haven’t really responded in depth to most of your comments because watching you get berated by Avaya customers is much more fun but I pretty much had enough of your grandstanding and telling everyone what’s best is your opinion alone. Companies are moving to Lync because enables their productivity along with TCO and ROI saving compared to Avaya. It’s that simple. In no way does a plugin that replaces native features preserving a legacy platform help a company reduce complexity or potentially save any money, in most cases it’s the complete opposite.

    Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with what you mentioned with your health situation (sorry to hear about your illness and that of your family btw. I hope both you and your family recover and remain healthy) and how CEBP can help that. Totally agree there is always a better way to do business and that CEBP solution can help and as your example proves Microsoft is doing just that with UCMA with partners. Although you mention SmartCare which is built with .NET and Microsoft UC and supports everything you mentioned, according to your PDF on your site, I don’t understand how ACE tops that in anyway. The fact Evangelyze developers still did all that without ACE and with Microsoft and other technologies I get lost in your whole argument around this. Could ACE have made SmartChat easier to build, maybe if the customer has an Avaya infrastructure, but in the end you built it without ACE.

    In the end its okay we don’t agree, but saying I don’t know why you guys don’t get it, I can same the same back to you about a better end user experience without plugins. What don’t you get?

  64. Chris and Joe,

    As somewhat of a moderator, since I work for neither Microsoft nor Avaya, based on your posts I would conclude the following:

    1. Lync + Avaya client-side integration does NOT provide a better user experience than Lync alone.

    1b. In fact, the all Avaya stack using One-X might actually provide a better experience than the multi-vendor Lync + Avaya client-side integration.

    2. Direct SIP integration between Lync and Avaya is architecturally and technically straightforward. This serves users best when some end users are using Lync endpoints and other end users are using Avaya endpoints.

    3. Both Avaya and Microsoft have viable communication solutions. If you are truly interested in determining what is in the best interest of the customer, you will need to:
    a. Document and prioritize customer requirements
    b. Evaluate various options against these requirements (options evaluated could include Avaya One-X, Lync Enterprise voice, Lync + Avaya via Direct SIP, Lync + Avaya with no integration, Lync + Avaya using ACE/AES integration)
    c. Comparison should look at user experience, one-time costs, ongoing costs, administrative skills/staff and any other attributes especially important to the specific customer.
    d. Based on transparent pros/cons analysis, recommend platform that best fits customer's requirements/objectives.

    4. Capabilities from both Microsoft and Avaya will certainly change over time. We should agree to meet back "here" six or twelve months from now and refresh the debate/discussion.

  65. @chrisnorman (11/20 6:49pm paragraph 3)

    You are assuming SmartCare product is complete and shipping but, as I understand, that product is not complete due to A/V not being available through UCMA. That may be the clarification to your comment "I get lost in your whole argument around this..."

    @joeschurman Wishing you a speedy recovery.