AudioCodes “Owning” the Lync Solution
This week, AudioCodes made a significant move to streamline and simplify acquisition and deployment of Microsoft Lync when they announced AudioCodes One Voice for Microsoft Lync (or simply “One Voice” in this article).
Of course, AudioCodes continues to be a leading provider of networking components related to Microsoft Lync. The AudioCodes portfolio has, for some time, included media gateways for connection to PBXs and the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and also enterprise session border controllers (ESBCs) for secure connection to SIP trunks and to Ethernet backbone services.
However, AudioCodes realized that Lync deployments are longer and more complex than customers prefer since the customer must work with four or five different organizations in order to get a complete Microsoft Lync deployment in place. This is especially the case if the customer is planning to use Lync for unified communications conferencing (i.e. including voice and video with desk/application sharing) or for enterprise voice communications based on a UC platform (i.e. instead of existing PBXs or IP telephony systems). In addition to gateways and ESBCs for the media streams, customers also had to acquire Microsoft Lync and Communicator licenses, needed to find a qualified Microsoft Lync system integration partner, and needed to select and buy Lync-compatible IP phones where appropriate.
AudioCodes One Voice takes ownership of this customer challenge by offering customers a one-stop shop for a complete Microsoft Lync deployment. One Voice includes:
Gateways and ESBCs, of course. Gateway configurations can support connections to and from both existing PBXs and the PSTN/Cellular network for audio participation in Lync conference calls. The gateways can also support connections with both PBXs and PSTN/Cellular networks for enterprise voice communications including dial plan definitions. The AudioCodes gateways can support any combination of SIP (Internet Protocol voice sessions), TDM (T-1 digital trunks) and analog connections. Also, co-existence of Lync enterprise voice users with the users on the existing PBX is supported either by dial plan coordination or, more effectively, by directory-based call routing in which calls are routed to and from the PSTN, the PBX and the Lync system based on Active Directory information that is cached in the AudioCodes gateway.
For connections to the public network or other enterprises, the ESBC provides the necessary security and protection for signaling and media. AudioCodes offers a range of configurations, many of which support both the gateway and ESBC functions in a single product.
- Lync-compatible IP phones. As part of the One Voice announcement, AudioCodes announced a series of Lync-compatible IP Phones. Of course, there are many other sources if IP devices for Lync, but AudioCodes can now include their IP phones in the single order and installation contract, rather than requiring the customer to separately spec and source these devices.
- Microsoft-certified professional services. AudioCodes has been a certified Microsoft partner for some time and is now making their expertise available directly to customers. In addition, AudioCodes will partner with their reseller channel members to propose and deliver these services. This allows both the customer and the reseller to obtain the professional services from the best and most convenient source for the situation. If the reseller is also a Lync-certified Microsoft Partner, then the reseller can provide the services from their own staff resources. But if the reseller’s success is out-stripping their capacity, the reseller can include AudioCodes services in their statement of work to the customer. In any case, the customer will see one proposal for the entire Lync installation.
In addition, AudioCodes offers services for pre-installation network assessment and for operational support of a Microsoft Lync deployment including voice quality monitoring and system management tools.
- Survivable Branch Appliances (SBA), which are essentially remote gateways which keep the Lync users connected if the wide area network connection from the remote site to the centralized Lync servers is not functioning properly. AudioCodes is one of several Microsoft solution partners who have created and certified their SBA for multi-location customer requirements.
With this portfolio of solution elements, as summarized in their brochure, AudioCodes has clearly streamlined and simplified Microsoft Lync installations. Of course, value added resellers or systems integrators already do this for customers, so this certainly is not a new idea. Similarly, distribution companies such as ScanSource Communications, also create technology kits to support Microsoft Lync.
The difference here is that AudioCodes, as a Microsoft Lync Partner, has taken technical as well as marketing ownership for the complete kit, including the necessary professional services. This means that both the customer and the reseller can look to AudioCodes for assurance that they have what they need for their Microsoft Lync planning and deployments and that the components will properly interoperate.
This announcement of AudioCodes One Voice for Microsoft Lync is another indication that the Microsoft Lync is gaining traction in the market, since their partners, such as AudioCodes, are making continuing investments in Lync solution delivery, and that the Lync solution is becoming easier to buy, to deploy and to operate. The announcement is also, as said, an indication that AudioCodes is thinking about Lync solutions from the customer’s point of view, which is always the best approach.