Microsoft "Unified Messaging"

Effects on the European Unified Messaging Market (part 2)


Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and unified messaging

Whereas the previous versions of the Microsoft Exchange Server offered only the possibility to send and administer e-mails, with the new version of the messaging platform, integrated unified messaging features are available for the first time. Outlook Voice Access (OVA) allows the mobile access to inboxes and calendars by phone. An integrated voice box feature turns the inboxes of the users to personal voice boxes. With the fax feature, faxes – at least in a simple form – can be received at the PC. Precondition for the use of the integrated UM-features is an extension of the Exchange Standard CAL’s (Client Access License) with Exchange Enterprise CAL’s, which is liable to costs – costs, which are not totally consistent with the European demands on unified messaging as stated above. In order to supply the employees with full unified messaging, the lacking features like fax sending and SMS in any case have to be extended by an add-on solution. When a company applies an ISDN-based PBX, the costs for a media gateway have to be added in order to enable the bridging from conventional PBX to SIP-environment. “It is also from the technical and administrative point of view that it does not make too much sense to make use of two different systems for unified messaging,“ Jochen Klein explains. “We recommend by any means to check the demands and the technical preconditions of the company in advance. Depending on the result of this, the implementation of a professional UM-solution of an add-on provider or Microsoft ‘Unified Messaging’ may be a good idea.”

As standard-based solution, the unified messaging solution IXI-UMS is able to go with technical enhancements like a new version of the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 without any problems. The UM-features can be integrated into the messaging environment as usual

Example: IXI-UMS as full unified messaging solution in Microsoft Exchange 2007

Just like in older versions of the messaging platform, the integration of the unified messaging solution IXI-UMS is realized via the Integrating Connector, here the IXI-UMS Exchange 2007 Connector. Because IXI-UMS is a single store solution, it communicates with the data bases Active Directory and Information Store directly. No data – not even administrative ones – is replicated. With Microsoft Outlook, a messaging client for the reception and sending, the processing and administration of messages is available, which can also be used as mailbox for the UM-messages. For the outbound communication, IXI-UMS communicates with the available PBX – analogue, ISDN- or VoIP-based – at the company. The advantages to realize unified messaging completely via a separate unified messaging solution such as IXI-UMS are obvious: The users have all the common unified messaging features – Fax, Voice, SMS and Mobile – both in incoming and outgoing direction at their disposal. With the outbound communication, the communication can be via an ISDN-based PBX as well as with an IP-based one (H.323 and SIP). Specific gateways are not required. In addition to that, UM-manufacturers like serVonic, that has been working in the UM-market for many years now, have diverse know how in this field. This is why e.g. an additional integration of the unified messaging solution in other system environments such as SAP Business Suite or Microsoft Dynamics NAV is possible. Several sites can be connected via particular routing concepts. An enhancement of the company communication with CTI-features can also be realized without any problems.

Example: IXI-UMS as enhancement for Microsoft “Unified Messaging“

The reason why a company still wants to apply Microsoft Unified Messaging can be explained by the additional functionalities of the Microsoft Exchange Enterprise-CAL’s. Besides the unified messaging functionality, there are security products like ‘Antigen for Exchange’ or ‘Exchange Hosted Services-Filtration’ contained here, which are attractive for some companies. “As companies already got basic UM-features like fax reception, voice box and mobility with the Enterprise-CAL's, they often are not willing to pay the costs for the implementation of a full unified messaging solution,“ says Jochen Klein. “In order to meet the market here, we offer a special package to these customers.” With the IXI-UMS Special Edition, the UM-features integrated in Microsoft like fax reception voice box and mobility can be used. The lacking components – fax sending and SMS – are added by IXI-UMS. The connection between the Special Edition and the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is handled via the IXI-UMS Exchange 2007 Connector. As the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is an IP-based solution, a direct connection to the PSTN and therewith the use of Microsoft Unified Messaging can only be realized via SIP (Session Initiation Protocol). When the company uses an ISDN- or H.323-based PBX for the outbound communication, a media gateway is necessary for the connection. Depending on the technical preconditions, serVonic’s solution here can be installed either on the media gateway directly or on a separate machine with Windows operating system.

Conclusion

A detailed analysis of Microsoft “Unified Messaging“ shows that the US-American and the European demands on unified messaging – especially in the field of fax – differ significantly. Differences the European unified messaging reacted to accordingly. That way, companies can realize unified messaging completely via an integrated add-on solution. Or they decide in favor of a mixed form with Microsoft “Unified Messaging“ and an enhancement with the lacking features. Whether a company decides for the implementation of a full unified messaging solution or an add-on solution depends from various factors: The company in any case should check demands, technical situation and available solutions carefully before deciding in favor of a variant.

Copyright: serVonic GmbH

As of: 12.11.2007


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