Microsoft IP PBX Partners to Support OCS 2007

Updated: Microsoft announces at Interop a lineup of companies that have adopted Office Communications Server 2007 interoperability specifications for VOIP, IM and conferencing.

LAS VEGAS—Microsoft at Interop on May 22 announced interoperability partners on the other side of the VOIP coin for Office Communications Server 2007.

In the latest partner lineup, Microsoft announced that a dozen IP PBX and voice over IP gateway makers pledged to work with Microsofts interoperability specifications for the OCS 2007 unified communications conferencing and messaging server.

The IP PBX and gateway companies pledging interoperability with OCS 2007 include Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Mitel Networks, NEC, Nortel Networks, Siemens Enterprise Communications, AudioCodes, Dialogic and Quintum Technologies.

On May 14, Microsoft announced 15 new phones from nine handset partners that work with OCS 2007 and Office Communicator 2007. The phones range from IP Phones, conferencing phones, USB phones, wired and wireless headsets, and more. Among those partners are Nortel Networks, NEC, Plantronics, Polycom and Samsung.

The IP PBX and gateway providers pledged to Microsoft that they will deliver interoperability upgrades by early next year, although Microsoft believes some will have their interoperability upgrades available in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Anthony Bawcutt, director of business development in Microsofts Unified Communications Group, in Redmond, Wash.

"We asked them all to at least support it in their flagship products. We wanted to make sure we had native support on current IP PBXes. Its not that hard a stretch for them, [because] we look like another IP PBX," he said.

Although OCS 2007 implements some basic IP PBX functionality such as the ability to make a call, take a call and transfer a call, as well as voice conferencing, Microsofts plan is not to try to get customers to "rip and replace" their existing investment, Bawcutt said.

"We think most [enterprises] are trying to capitalize on the investment theyve made in PBXes. This is a co-existence strategy. Some are wondering if weve cracked five nines availability, and there are features on some of those PBXes that we wont have right away. We have the basic features of [industry standard] Session Initiation Protocol. PBXes will have more things that we dont support," he added.

OCS 2007 adds value by integrating VOIP presence, instant messaging and conferencing along with Microsoft Exchange e-mail.

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Partner Mitel, which started integration efforts with OCS 2007s predecessor, Live Communications Server, in 2004, recently announced integration of its flagship PBX to Microsoft Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging using the industry standard SIP (Session Initiation Protocol).

"The recent deployment of our direct Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform SIP connection with Microsoft Exchange 2007 to Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs) worldwide is further evidence of Mitels firm commitment to ensuring the seamless integration of our solutions portfolio with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007," said Don Smith, CEO of Kanata, Ontario-based Mitel, in a statement. "Mitel is pleased to expand its extensive unified communications product integration and successful global customer engagement activities with Microsoft," he added.

While Microsoft believes it has covered the majority of the IP PBX makers and gateway providers, a few are missing from the list, including Inter-Tel. Mitel has struck an agreement to acquire Inter-Tel, although it is not a done deal.

Microsoft also announced that the public beta for OCS 2007 and Office Communicator, launched in March, has already seen 50,000 downloads since its initial beta release.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from Microsofts Anthony Bawcutt.

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