Lync Hosting is Heating Up

lync-2013-logoWe all know that Microsoft includes Lync with their Office365  offering.  Businesses looking for true hosted Unified Communications will not find Office365 meets their needs.  Without Enterprise Voice, you cannot say that it can replace the on-site telephony system.

A number of companies are, however, jumping feet first into the Hosted Lync arena.  They come from a number of areas:  Some are come from a UC background, some are Microsoft hosters (Sharepoint, Exchange, etc.) and some are traditional phone companies.  What they have in common is a full-featured product that tries to replace an on-prem telephone system.

Some key activities within the last few months include:

  • Last month AT&T announced that they will be providing hosted Lync.  This service will encompass both the full Unified Communications capabilities of Lync along with full enterprise voice.
  • Verizon is also offerring a full hosted Lync deployment combined with their SIP trunking for enterprise voice.
  • Late last year, Avanade, the Microsoft service delivery arm of Accenture and Microsoft purchased  Azaleos.  With this purchase, Avanade/Accenture instantly entered the hosted Microsoft UC arena.
  • CallTower, a long-time Lync and OCS hoster announced full support for Lync 2013
  • Control Panel vendors such as ExtendASP add Lync hosting to their products
  • Vendors such as ISI Telemanagement Solutions (full disclosure — I work for them) add support for billing and recording for Lync hosters
  • Implement.com offers turn-key Lync hosting for Microsoft partners

What is missing, of course, is Microsoft.   They have tremendous experience in offering full hosted applications such as Office365 and Dynamics CRM to the enterprise.  What about Lync and Voice?  Microsoft did take a baby step with integration to JaJah.  Skype with their Skype-in and Skype-out may also provide some movement.  Until they offer key features such as E-911 and more advanced call control options, it may be a SMB solution but certainly not an option for the Enterprise.

The key thing to remember is that with Skype, Microsoft essentially bought a world-wide telephone network.  Lync moved to the Skype division.  If I had to bet, I would suspect that once things mature a bit, Microsoft will jump in at the enterprise level as well.  Remember, Microsoft has the relationships at the CIO level.  Cisco is hitting them hard with their HCS offering.  It is only a matter of time before they go direct.

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