Can Microsoft Lync’s Voice Capabilities Replace PBXs?

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What started as an uphill battle has transformed into a revolution. When Microsoft Lync hit the market, many were skeptical about the platform. However, with the release of Lync 2013, Microsoft solidified their position in the unified communication (UC) market. Because of this growth, many are wondering if Lync's voice capabilities are good enough to replace legacy PBXs.

The latest version of Microsoft's UC and collaboration platform brought tight integration with their other software products. This included a well-designed user interface, capable of quickly moving from a chat session to audio or video conferencing.

Naysayers tend to call out Microsoft for not manufacturing their own desk phone or room-based video-conferencing infrastructure. Rather than dwell on this, users have still found great success with Lync, as Microsoft has partnered with other vendors to supply everything needed to replace legacy telephony hardware with more flexible software running on commodity servers.

What is driving this success? Familiarity.

Enterprises are already accustomed to Microsoft software. Because of this, many are willing to listen to Microsoft salespeople pitching Lync as a replacement for an aging time-division multiplexer (TDM), private branch exchange (PBX), IP PBX or hybrid system.

Everything is designed for a streamlined user experience. The combination of the Lync 2013 server, Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization platform, and Windows Server 2012 provides a flexible software layer that sits on top of the technology needed for a fully functional IP-based telephony system.

Microsoft did not start the trend toward software-based communications, nor is it the only vendor to take such an approach. All the major PBX companies, such as Cisco, Avaya and Mitel, compete with Lync in providing a single user interface for instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, web collaboration, and softphone functions for PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

Microsoft's tenacity has made it a player in the unified communications and collaboration market, which is expected to top $21.5 billion in worldwide revenue this year, according to IDC. Microsoft will have to use that same doggedness to become a winner in the enterprise telephony market.

Do you think Lync is en route to usurp the traditional PBX?

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Mitchell Weiss joined ISI in 1994. He holds a Bachelor's Degree Management Information Systems from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stuart School of Business in Chicago.  He is an industry leader in all phases of managing Unified Communications.  At ISI, Mr. Weiss is responsible for the vision, strategy, and implementation of a suite of Unified Communications products including Voice and Video Recording, SIP Trunk Management, and Traffic Management.  Mr. Weiss also brings his knowledge of Cloud Computing to ISI, allowing the company to create new cloud based models for its software and services.

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