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Microsoft Unified Messaging

Effects on the European Unified Messaging Market

by Iris Walter | serVonic GmbH | Public Relations


With the announcements of Microsoft to the topic unified messaging in combination with the release of the Microsoft Exchange 2007 Server, the term UMS became a much discussed keyword once again. It was not clear for a long time, which unified messaging features are contained in Microsoft’s new Collaboration Software and which effects this might have on the unified messaging market in Germany. With the release of the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft cleared up the confusion around the announced UM-features of the new messaging platform: The Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 offers the user integrated UM-features for fax reception, voice box and mobility. UM-features like fax sending and SMS that are common and demanded in Europe are missing though. The following article shall show ways how companies can make the implementation of unified messaging under Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 effective.

What exactly is unified messaging? US-American and European views

When taking a closer look at the unified messaging features of the Microsoft Exchange 2007 Server it becomes quite obvious that this product is focused on the US-American market. The main part of the communication in the USA is handled by e-mail or telephone/voice box, so that the new UM-features fax reception, voice box and mobility are adequate to a large extent. In the European market, however, the requirements concerning unified messaging are different there. The communication by fax still plays an important role. “Our sales statistics show that fax is by far the most frequently used service among the unified messaging features,” says Jochen Klein, CEO of the German-based software manufacturer serVonic GmbH, which has the unified messaging solution IXI-UMS in its portfolio. “A solution like Microsoft Unified Messaging, that does not cover the fax functionality completely, is not sufficient for Europe as exclusive UM-solution.“ But not only with the demands on the UM-services, but also with the PBX-connection, the orientation of Microsoft “Unified Messaging“ towards the US-American market is clear: For the necessary outbound communication, the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 exclusively supports SIP-based PBX’s. The ISDN-technology especially widespread in Europe cannot be realized directly, but only by the interconnection of media gateways.

With serVonic’s unified messaging server IXI-UMS, the user receives all the messages – e-mails, faxes, voice mails and SMS – in his regular e-mail client, here Microsoft Outlook. He can access, listen to and process the messages by mobile phone

European demands – all sorts of messages within one user interface

With the purchase of a unified messaging solution, most of the European companies make clear demands. Apart from e-mail, also faxes, short messages (SMS) and voice mails shall be received and sent within one user interface at the PC. Moreover, all the messages shall be accessed and processed quickly and easily when being away from the office. In the outbound communication, available as well as future PBX-structures in the company shall be supported. In order to realize these demands on unified messaging, there are different ways: The application of a stand-alone communication server or an add-on solution. A stand-alone communication server contains all sorts of messages as well as a basic architecture for the sending and reception of messages including data bases, mail boxes and Message Transfer Agent. One advantage is that in this case, all the ideas around unified messaging can be realized relatively easy. However, manufacturers of stand-alone communication servers are in competition with messaging systems like Microsoft Exchange or IBM Lotus Domino, as these systems already offer architecture for the exchange of messages, data bases and stores for administrative data and messages as well as a Message Transfer Agent and a suitable client. Add-on software basically is designed to integrate in available systems and only add the lacking features Fax, Voice, SMS and Mobile (remote inquiry). As most of the companies already apply a messaging system like e.g. Microsoft Exchange, an add-on solution here is the better choice. This way, the user has all the messages – e-mails, faxes, voice mails and short messages (SMS) – at his disposal within the regular user interface. There are also advantages in the administration: It is handled directly in the respective messaging system, this means the UM-solution can be administered in the well-known environment with the usual tools. [more]


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Information

Find more information on the integration of IXI-UMS in Microsoft Exchange architectures here.

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 Iris Walter
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