Microsoft Lync Server, formerly called Office Communications Server and Live Communications Server, allows you to take control of Presence and Instant Messaging (IM) while providing an advanced platform for unified communications that can save time and money while improving productivity and teamwork. Microsoft Lync Server offers a consistent user experience that spans desktop PCs, smartphones, and web browsers and allows users to communicate, collaborate, and share information from within the Lync desktop client, from Microsoft Office programs including Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, or from custom applications and workflows.
Lync Server supports Instant Messaging, Presence, audio and video conferencing, desktop sharing, and both IP-based and PSTN telephony. Lync Server can extend the functionality of Microsoft Exchange Server and SharePoint and simplify management through integration with Active Directory. The advanced capabilities of Lync Server can also save capital and operational costs by replacing VoIP hardware and subscription services, PBX systems, or legacy video conferencing solutions.
Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you evaluate the benefits of Lync Server for your business and can assist you to plan and carry out a deployment of Lync Server that centralizes the management of all modes of IP communications and increases the output of your office staff, telecommuters, and mobile workers. Progent can also help you execute a smooth migration to Lync Server 2010 from Office Communications Server or Live Communications Server, integrate Lync Server with Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and SQL Server, show you how to use Lync to enhance the collaborative capabilities of Microsoft Office applications, and provide training and ongoing support for Lync and other Microsoft technologies.
Overview of Microsoft Lync Server 2010
The hit-or-miss nature of phone and voice mail systems and the sporadic delays inherent in e-mail can result in wasted time and lost opportunities. This has contributed to the wide-spread, and often uncontrolled, adoption of IM technology to help people get in touch with one another quickly regardless of location or time zone. But this means yet another mode of communications for users to monitor and IT administrators to manage, support, and audit.
A complementary solution for reducing communications latency is Presence technology. Presence allows people to publish their availability status and helps colleagues determine the best time and method to contact them. Rich Presence technology removes most of the guesswork and latency out of getting in touch. The challenge for IT managers is how to allow Presence to surface within the natural workflow of a business so that users don't give back the time-saving benefits by being forced to master yet another software application or dramatically alter the way they do business.
The key to Lync Server's business value is that it leverages the collaborative benefits of IM and Presence across multiple software applications, business functions, and computing devices by providing a single, standardized, manageable, secure, and scalable platform that integrates easily into existing IT infrastructure. Lync Server universalizes access to IM and Presence through its integration with mainstream applications such as Microsoft Office and SharePoint and by supporting Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux desktops as well as BlackBerries, iPhones, Windows Phones and other web-enabled smartphones. Lync Server also utilizes IM and Presence to enhance or replace core communications solutions including IP-PBX systems and video conferencing.
Lync Server centralizes the management and universalizes the accessibility of IM and Presence technology to improve the collaborative capability of mainstream Microsoft Office applications as well as SharePoint and to improve the efficiency of PBX and conferencing solutions.
Lync Server allows users to publish their availability status (e.g., Available, Busy, Off Work, In a Meeting) and how they can be reached. Lync Server supports advanced user information including a contact's picture and location. This status information is available wherever a user's name appears such as in an email message or on a team web site. Presence status can also be displayed and messages can be launched within a Microsoft Office application such as Excel or Word by hovering over the Presence icon. This provides a click-to-contact capability that streamlines communication without disturbing familiar workflows.
Lync's native integration with Active Directory simplifies management by doing away with the requirement to establish separate databases for users and policies, Lync's use of Role Based Access Control (RBAC) makes it easy to assign roles and scopes to various administrators.
Major Features of Microsoft Lync Server 2010
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 offers a rich array of features that enhance the usability and manageability of collaborative tools in the areas of Presence and IM, Unified Conferencing, and Enterprise Voice.
Presence and IM
- Microsoft Office and SharePoint Support: A Presence icon allows users to access Presence information and start a conversation with a single click from SharePoint sites and from within Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office applications
- Custom Presence States: Managers can create business-specific Presence such as In Court
- Privacy Settings: Users can control what Presence information is available and to whom
- Contact List: Contacts can be sorted by groups, status, and relationships, and list settings can be customized to view photos, presence, and status.
- Contact Grouping: Users can tag contacts to receive automatic change-of-status notifications.
- Contact Card: A new Contact Card accessible from Office applications can display individuals, distribution and personal groups, and instant messaging agents, and can show pictures, location, notes, and communication options.
- Unified Contacts: Contact identities are consolidated and stored in Exchange and shared among Lync Server 2010, SharePoint, and Exchange Server 2010.
- Conversation History: IM history can be stored for auditing and old conversations can be revived with a click.
- Federation: Presence and IM functionality can be extended to external Lync Servers and IM can include public IM networks.
- Web Access: Outlook Web App and Lync Web App provide access to Presence, IM, and contact lists.
- Mobile Access: Communicator Mobile allows Presence updates and IM on mobile devices.
- Mac Support: Communicator for Mac 2010 works with Lync Server 2010 for Presence and IM, calendar free/busy information, rich Presence in Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, desktop sharing, and PSTN dialout.
- Group Chat: The Lync Server 2010 Group Chat console provides chat room lists, chat history search, and new posts alerts while supporting Presence, IM, text, graphics, files, links, and emoticons.
- Skill Search: SharePoint integration allows users to search for experts based on experience, interest, or group membership.
- One-click Conferencing: Outlook 2010 integration and Communicator Mobile both allow users to schedule, begin, or join a meeting with a single click.
- Active Directory-based Authentication: Conference set up options include open or closed authentication against Active Directory or anonymous participation based on an ID and password. Lync 2010 users can join with one click, skipping PIN, password, or meeting ID.
- Video Conferencing: Enhanced support for a broad range of webcams and other video technology simplifies video conferencing.
- Support for Non-PC Users: Conference participants without a PC can dial in via an access number and optional PIN or use a Lync 2010 Phone Edition device authenticated against Active Directory.
- Panoramic View: The Lync 2010 client can display a 360 degree panorama of a meeting site and Lync 2010 Server can detect and highlight the active speaker.
- HD Video: The Lync 2010 client supports high-definition video for peer-to-peer calls.
- Whiteboarding: Lync 2010 allows presenters to broadcast pages populated in real time with drawings, text, flow charts, diagrams, cut-and-paste objects, and annotations to create slides that can be saved or printed.
- Desktop and Application Sharing: Conference presenters can use Lync 2010 to send real-time broadcasts of selected portions of their desktops, applications, visuals, web pages, and documents. Presenters can also send keystrokes and mouse activity, and can selectively delegate control to participants.
- Meeting Recordings and Playback: The Lync 2010 client makes it possible to record meetings and presentations to a WMV file or in a Lync recording format, and to publish all or parts of a meeting that can include any combination of audio, video, IM, and shared content.
- Enhance or Replace a PBX: Lync Server 2010 offers comprehensive IP PBX functionality (e.g., click to call, call waiting, hold, release, forward, transfer, divert to voicemail, park, reverse number lookup) enhanced with IM, rich Presence, and conferencing.
- Telephony Management: Integration with core platforms such as Active Directory and Microsoft SQL Server support critical PBX management functions including dial plans, call authorization, and detailed call records.
- External Access without VPN: Lync Server 2010 can provide advanced PBX services to users outside the office without requiring a Virtual Private Network connection.
- Simultaneous Ring: Incoming calls can ring all of a user's endpoints at the same time and can optionally generate IM call notifications. A user can add one independent PSTN number such as a home phone.
- Device Switching: Users can specify a primary endpoint device and can use a drop-down menu in the Lync 2010 client to switch between devices in the middle of a conversation without disrupting the call.
- Manage Multiple Calls: Users can answer and initiate calls in parallel via separate Lync 2010 conversation windows and manage the calls with the Current Conversation list.
- Multi-media Calls: For calls between Lync 2010 clients, options include text, video, and desktop sharing.
- Secure Access: Lync Server 2010 endpoints can encrypt voice and media via TLS and SRTP security without requiring VPN connections.
- Single Number Reach: Users can use a single phone number for desk phones, PCs, and mobile handsets, while outbound calls from these devices can share the same caller ID..
- Call Logs: An optional call log can be stored in the Conversation History folder of Outlook 2010 for tracking all of a user's incoming and outgoing calls.
How Progent's Consultants Can Help You with Lync Server 2010
Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you establish the business case for deploying Lync Server 2010 either as your first attempt to centralize the management and standardize the use of Presence and IM across your enterprise, or as an upgrade to Microsoft Office Communicator or Live Communications Server. Progent can help you plan and execute a cost-effective deployment of Lync Server, configure Lync Server to work with your with SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, Active Directory, and Microsoft Office environments, and show you how to manage and support local and remote Lync Server users operating desktop PCs, BlackBerries, iPhones, Windows Phones, or other smartphones. Progent can help set up Lync Server to work with your existing PBX and VoIP solutions or plan a staged phase out of your legacy telephony system with Microsoft's Lync technology.
Progent's Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can help you design and support a robust network infrastructure that provides the performance and reliability required for your Lync Server solution, and Progent's network security consultants can help you define and enforce company-wide security policies for Presence and IM applications based on industry best practices.
Progent's business continuity professionals can help you take advantage of Lync Server 2010's ability to be split across two geographical separate sites so that your Lync Server environment can survive a catastrophic data center breakdown, and Progent's Data Protection Manager experts can help you devise and test a backup/restore solution that minimizes business disruption and data loss in case of a network failure.
Progent's Technical Response Center (TRC) can provide on-line support for IT managers responsible for maintaining Lync Server and the TRC also offers Helpdesk services for end users. Progent can train administrators and users to manage and operate Lync Server 2010 and the Lync 2010 client to maximize the business value of Microsoft's Presence and IM technology.
In order to get in touch with Progent about engineering support for Microsoft Lync Server 2010, call 1-800-993-9400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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