A Lync Primer

A Lync Primer

In the first of a series of articles examining Microsoft Lync, Steve Tassell, UC Product Manager at Microsoft provides readers with an overview of the product and its applications

Lync

 

Steve Tassell, UC Product Manager at Microsoft says workplaces are changing.

Teams are more distributed. People need productivity tools that enable them to work from anywhere. Yet, despite organisations’ technology investments, users struggle to stay connected with colleagues and the business. Slow innovation in traditional technologies such as telephony forces users to choose other modes for collaboration and communication. This makes it more challenging for information technology (IT) professionals to deliver new capabilities in an integrated, costeffective, and secure manner.

Microsoft Lync Server 2010 connects users in new ways, regardless of their physical location. The latest release of the Unified Communications platform delivers a fresh, intuitive user experience that is directly accessible from Microsoft Office applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft SharePoint. Lync Server 2010 brings together the different ways people communicate in a single interface, is deployed as a unified platform, and is administered through a single management infrastructure. The unified nature of the system helps reduce costs and facilitates rapid user adoption. And, because Lync Server 2010 is broadly interoperable, it fits into existing IT infrastructure for easier deployment and migration.

 

New Connected Experience

Lync Server 2010 ushers in a new connected experience, transforming every communication into an interaction that is more collaborative and engaging and is accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection. Lync Server 2010 helps users find the right person to connect with, communicate in the most effective way, and build social connections, all through a single, unified client.

Find and communicate with the right person: Lync Server 2010 provides integrated corporate address book search to help users find people and view their availability before connecting with them. Search results include pictures to help users visually identify others. With Microsoft SharePoint, Lync Server 2010 provides Skill Search so users can search for people based on skills or expertise.

Create a more fun work environment by building social connections: Microsoft Lync 2010 now provides an Activity Feed view showing status updates from contacts in the contact list. Users can stay close by sharing information with one another. Activity Feed provides updates when a user changes status note, picture, title, or office location.

Connect the way you want, with a single interface for all real-time communications: A new and updated user experience provides the ability to communicate with voice, video, or data directly from the new Contact Card. Users can share a presentation, start a white boarding session, or share their desktop or application easily from one conversation window. A conversation can be impromptu or scheduled, and can include participants inside and outside the organization.

Stay connected whether you are in the office or on the road: Lync 2010 offers the same rich functionality outside the firewall without requiring a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. Users can stay connected and productive from wherever with just a standard Internet connection. Lync Server 2010 also provides Web access through the leading browsers and a mobile client on Windows phone and other mobile platforms including Blackberry, Symbian, and iPhone. Users on the go can use their mobile device as their work phone, with single number reach.

 

Integration with Microsoft Office

Enriched Microsoft Office collaborative experience: Lync Server 2010 works with Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and applications such as Outlook, Word, and Microsoft Excel for a richer collaborative experience. Building on the connection with email, the Lync 2010 contact list is now directly available in Outlook so users can start a collaborative session without needing to switch applications. Presence, new Contact Card, and click-to-call options are consistently available across Outlook, SharePoint, and other Office applications. And users can view presence and chat from Outlook Web App.

Office Backstage integration: The new Office Backstage view in Office applications such as Word, Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint replaces the traditional File menu, enabling users to save, share, print, and publish documents and presentations with just a few clicks. Communication options are integrated in Office Backstage so users can share documents via instant messaging (IM), share the application itself, or click to call directly from the application.

 

Converged Communications

Lync Server 2010 provides voice, presence, enterprise messaging, persistent group chat, and audio, video, and Web conferencing without requiring standalone investments in conferencing and PBX systems.

Rich conferencing solution: Lync Server 2010 introduces a rich conferencing user interface with integrated audio and video. It provides the ability to share presentations and applications and have collaborative white boarding sessions with internal and external participants. Participants can annotate shared PowerPoint slides, superimpose text, and use visual pointers for more effective presentations and discussions. Scheduling and joining meetings is simplified. Users can schedule a meeting from Outlook and join the meeting through Lync 2010 on the PC, phone, or Web interface. If Lync 2010 is not present on the desktop, clicking on the meeting invite automatically prompts the user to join through the Web interface. For additional privacy, a ‘lobby’ can be set up by users so they have more control over meeting participants.

Full set of voice features: Lync Server 2010 now delivers critical voice features to provide a standalone enterprise voice offering to augment or replace traditional PBX systems. Lync Server 2010 supports common calling features such as answer, forward, transfer, hold, divert, release, and park, and extends these capabilities outside the office via Internet access without requiring a VPN connection. Additionally, it improves traditional features such as speed dialing and calling party name display by incorporating contact lists, corporate directory search, and skill search within dialing functions. New in this release, Lync Server 2010 now supports analog devices such as fax machines and pagers, and a broader range of lower-cost user devices from partners. The solution is designed to support high availability through Call Admission Control, branch office survivability, and extended options for data resiliency.

 

Interoperable and Extensible

Lync Server 2010 embraces interoperability so it fits in your environment and works with your existing technologies and investments.

Interoperability across workloads: Lync Server 2010 supports federation with public IM networks such as Windows Live, AOL, Yahoo!, and, through a gateway, Google Talk, allowing workers to use their corporate identities to connect to customers and partners. Conferencing interoperability enables organisations to use existing video infrastructure including room systems and high-end video conferencing solutions. Lync Server 2010 works with PBX systems either through Direct Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) or qualified gateways so organisations can continue to make use of their existing investments in PBX. Lync Server 2010 integrates with qualified third-party SIP Trunking Service Providers to provide a more cost-effective connectivity to Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) trunks.

Embed communications in business processes: Lync Server 2010 is an extensible platform. New and improved client-side APIs enable developers to embed Lync 2010 functionality such as presence information, contact card, and contact lists into their own applications using Microsoft-supported, ready-to-use code snippets for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Silverlight-based applications. Enhanced server-side APIs make it easy to instantiate and deliver notifications and alerts via IM or phone, find experts, and assist people using technologies such as queryresponse bots.

 

Simpler Deployment

Lync Server 2010 provides rich capabilities in a single offering to help organisations reduce costs and increase user adoption. Organisations can leverage their existing investments in Active Directory, Exchange Server, and SharePoint. Lync Server 2010 has been built with security in mind, enabling IT to maintain control over user functions and other security policies such as external access. Simplified deployment and a centralised configuration management approach make initial roll-out and total system configuration management easier. IT can easily and effectively monitor system health through Microsoft Systems Center Operations Manager, Quality of Experience Server, synthetic transactions, and other capabilities.

Your IT department can choose to deploy Lync Server 2010 on-premises, use a hosted Microsoft Online Services offering, or use both in a hybrid environment. With the hosted option, enterprises get faster deployment, can stay up-to-date on software, and free up time to focus on more strategic tasks and initiatives.

 
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