Vast herds of wildebeest wander under cloudless African skies. Monarch butterflies fill the air with millions of gossamer wings. IT execs stampede among conference rooms studying rollout charts. Ahh, migrations are majestic forces of nature!
This week, as I walked the halls of the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando, Fla., I heard executive after executive talk about migration. The genesis of their discussions was the idea of migrating from PSTN (the Public Switched Telephone Network) to VoIP, or from VoIP to UC (Unified Communications). In addition, everyone (and I'm not really exaggerating, here) was talking about the migration from desktop units to mobile devices. The challenge wasn't finding someone who was helping their organization migrate -- it was finding someone who was standing still.
Just to make things a little more interesting, two Microsoft products were at the center of many discussions -- and many questions about just how to migrate both software and infrastructure to take best advantage of their capabilities. The first of these products is Microsoft Lync, the UC product that brings all sorts of communication, including audio, video, text messaging and desktop sharing, together in one rather complex package. Perhaps because it integrates so well with Windows Server and the rest of the Microsoft back-end suite, Lync has rapidly become the default UC package for many companies looking to make the leap in that direction.
Once a decision has been made in favor of Lync, a decision on the infrastructure can be only so far behind. This is where things get interesting since there are some very interesting features in Windows Server 2012 that can make a Lync deployment a bit easier.
The first thing to consider is the degree of role-based permission fine-tuning that arrives as part of Windows Server 2012's AD implementation -- and the ease with which those permissions can be managed through WMC (Windows Management Console). The goal of a single enterprise identity, federated across all the major communications mediums at use in the modern enterprise, is largely realized in the Lync/Windows Server 2012 pairing. It's in the infrastructure, though, that things get truly exciting.
While many people decry cloud computing and outsourcing, virtually all enterprises have long outsourced their telecom services. That has continued in the VoIP era, and now companies find that outsourcing video transport and unified communication management can make a great deal of sense, as well. There are any number of companies that will outsource Lync in its entirety, but the Lync/Win Server 2012 combination makes it relatively straightforward to outsource portions of the infrastructure while keeping other pieces in-house. This can be critical for regulatory compliance and security consideations, and it is key to many companies looking more seriously at a UC implementation for their employees.
Though few wildebeest are involved, the migration from POTS (plain old telephone service) to UC is huge and impressive in its own right. There's no way to make it truly simple, but relying on the right combination of platforms might just help IT migrate around some of the larger crocodiles lurking down in the muddy water.