The Marvels of the Microsoft Ecosystem: Now There's AudioCodes One Box 365
The Microsoft ecosystem is a marvelous thing! Over two decades of my career have been in product management. That experience taught me two things: (1) most of the decisions are about what not to do, given the limits on budgets or venture capital funding; (2) the innovations will be driven (or constrained) by the specific focus of the team leaders and the specific requests of important customers or market segments.
The Microsoft ecosystem opens up horizons and innovations that Microsoft’s customers would be unlikely to see if all development were done only by Microsoft’s own engineers. Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only major software producer that has a robust ecosystem, but Microsoft surely has a good one. Some of my favorite examples of ecosystem innovations for Microsoft Lync are the creative headsets from Plantronics, the interesting audio and video devices from Logitech for small and mid-sized conference rooms, and the well-done video conferencing solutions for Lync and Lync Room Systems (LRS) from Polycom and SMART Technologies.
Now, we see the new AudioCodesOne Box 365™ that adds Lync "enterprise voice" to Microsoft Office 365 as a very cost-effective packaged solution. Based on an in-depth analysis by UniComm Consulting and KelCor, Inc. using essentially the same methodology as our Lync Conference 2014 TCO analysis, the five-year total cost of ownership for One Box 365 will be approximately 60% lower for an organization with 50 to 200 users than a comparable on-premises implementation of Microsoft Lync.
So, what’s the magic of One Box 365 that delivers such a savings? It begins with the Office 365 E3 plan, a comprehensive bundle for $20 per user per month that includes Lync for instant messaging, presence, peer-to-peer communication, federation with Skype, and audio/video/web conferencing. In addition, the E3 plan includes licensing for the Office suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote) for up to 5 PCs (Windows devices) or Macs/iPads. The license also includes Exchange (email), SharePoint (workspaces and web sites), Yammer (social for business) and OneDrive (file sharing). But, the E3 plan doesn’t include "enterprise voice," i.e. the ability to make and receive calls on the public switched telephone/cellular network (PSTN) and the ability to use the many PBX-like features of Microsoft Lync that allow an organization to use Lync instead of a PBX.
The AudioCodes “magic” uses the Microsoft Office 365 E4 plan. For only $2 more per user per month on top of the E3 plan, the E4 plan includes the Lync "PLUS" CAL (Client Access License) that enables the enterprise voice features mentioned above. However, there’s a catch in footnote 1 on that page:
“1Lync enterprise voice capabilities require a customer to purchase and deploy Lync Server, either on-premises or in a hosted data-center, to enhance or replace traditional PBX systems.”
AudioCodes takes advantage of this by bundling the software required for that Lync Server deployment with an AudioCodes gateway to provide an economical solution. One Box 365 comes in several configurations to provide a choice of PSTN connection types (T1, SIP or combinations) to match the organization’s preferences and current carrier capabilities. One Box 365 also includes the solution components already available as AudioCodes One Voice, including Lync-compatible Internet Prototcol (IP) phones, network and service management software, and AudioCodes support available in conjunction with an AudioCodes system integration partner.
The One Box 365 solution also provides the on-premises Lync software and the PSTN connection hardware that provides business continuity and continued PSTN inbound and outbound calling even if there is a disruption in the Wide Area Network (WAN) connection. This avoids the need for a Small Branch Appliance (SBA) that would be needed for business continuity if Lync enterprise voice were hosted in the cloud by a third-party service provider.
The bottom line is that AudioCodes has advanced their programs to support Microsoft Lync for "enterprise voice." From their initial suite of gateways, AudioCodes expanded to include all of the needed components for a successful Lync installation by delivering AudioCodes One Voice. Now, AudioCodes is taking the next step to open up an economical solution with One Box 365. By leveraging the low-cost ($2 per month increment) licensing of Microsoft Lync Plus CAL in the cloud via the Office 365 E4 plan, AudioCodes One Box 365 brings new economy and practicality to the small to mid-sized business, location or workgroup.
Again, we see the creativity of a well-supported ecosystem, of which this AudioCodes innovation is another example. It’s pretty certain this ecosystem creativity will continue and that others are likely to follow the AudioCodes lead to make Lync solutions more attractive to the marketplace.
This paper is sponsored by AudioCodes.