BREAKING NEWS ….
In some instances progression is really regression, or maybe it’s just a case of rebranding a fully functional client with a name that the younger generation know & understand.
Watch this space, because on Wednesday 18th March 2015 Microsoft Lync (nee Office Communications Server, Live Communications Server) will change its name to Skype for Business.
For those of you who know me well, will understand where I’m coming from here.
The rebranding of Lync (formerly Real Time Communications-Alfa, Live Communications Server & Office Communications Server) is the passing of a brilliant system and the witnessing of the dumbing down of corporate communications to a something that is know to the younger generations who want external contact; this also makes it easier for third-party suppliers.
Maybe it’s a way of evolving a evolving a “nice to have” social media client that many of the younger generation associate with social IM, P2P video & an incorporated telephony client into the corporate world. But IMHO Skype will fail to deliver that which has been delivered by Lync (and its previous incarnations) just because it’s being dumbed down.
I do not use Facebook, but this video, by Zig Serafin (Corporate Vice President Skype Business Services) was published on Facebook on the 12th March. Announcing that Skype for Business would be launched on Wednesday March 12th. (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152821623341884&set=vb.123768126883&type=2&theater).
I have difficulty accepting that SfB (Skype for Business) will be able to provide everything that Lync has grown to offer since LCS was first rolled-out in 2005/06.
RTC-A & LCS grew out of the requirement for the protection of corporate messaging.
In the days before RTC-A, corporate messaging for chaotic. The client that was installed depended upon the consensus of team members, and interactions with other teams; the team as a core may well have had MSN, Yahoo, ICQ ect installed. Then those who interacted with other teams may well have had another IM client installed. This meant that in all reality there was no standard corporate IM, & you could not hope to stop team members passing corporate documents to a personal address or IM client.
RTC-A introduced a static client that could be installed throughout the corporate environment, with the advantage being that IM was limited to within the corporate network.
When the lessons from RTC-A had been learnt & the software developed into LCS; there were many advances. But the biggest advance was when we developed Public IM Gateways – a portal through the firewalls allowing IM with customers & suppliers.
If you have Lync installed within your corporate environment today, you have a very stable and versatile corporate messaging client that has a greater function than just purely the provision of IM.
Sadly whilst Skype offers the functionality of telephony, it follows the same principle of Live Call – remember the ability to call from MSN ? – in that your breakout point is your in-country telephone provider .. if you call a US based telephone from a UK based Skype\Microsoft account then you initiate the call from the UK. Whereas if you were using Lync & had an office in the US – also running Lync -then the call would be routed from the UK to the US via the corporate network & breakout using the US telephony system; which effectively meant that you had an in-country call rather than an international call. In all reality this is called virtual networking (VNet, or VNetting – the ability to route your telephony requirements through the corporate network, rather than breaking out to public telephony network & then re-entry to the corporate infrastructure).
Personally I’m waiting to find out what will be offered, and whether it will be an advantage to that which is already offered, but Microsoft is claiming that SfB will provide many new features which will include:
- A familiar interface, which uses “The familiar Skype icons for calling, adding video & ending a call” – WOW! an advancement for the mere stupid
- Skype call monitor, which will keep the active call visible in a small window even when the user changes focus to another application. – WOW! this already works with Lync
- Better Skype integration. In addition to instant messaging and audio calling with Skype, Skype for Business adds video calling and the Skype user directory, so you can call any Skype user on any device. – This already works with Lync .. my desktop, laptop, tablet, & phone (Windows, Droid & fruit based .. my better looking other half uses Lync on her Droid & me on my Win Lumia, with FULL audio visual & desktop sharing)
- More efficient design. Common tasks can be completed with fewer steps. For example, transferring a call now takes only one touch or click instead of three. – Advancement
SfB will be an automatic rollout Office 365 for business customers in the weeks and months ahead. Those with on-premises Lync servers will need to upgrade to Skype for Business manually.