Survey: Costs of Office Communications Server too great for some organizations

Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS) is perceived as too expensive to deploy and too complicated to manage, and many businesses lack the in-house expertise to handle it

Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS) is perceived as too expensive to deploy and too complicated to manage, and many businesses lack the in-house expertise to handle it, according to a survey.

Tighter IT budgets spawned by the recession were cited by 58 per cent of respondents as an inhibitor or serious inhibitor to using OCS as well as other UC platforms, with upfront and ongoing costs both contributing, according to a survey conducted by Osterman Research.

Lack of a compelling business case for using OCS or its successor, Lync, was a factor for 42 per cent, according to "Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and the Unified Communications Market".

The online survey queried 121 organizations in North America and was sponsored by Azaleos, which offers OCS and Lync services.

The survey says that 21 per cent of respondents use OCS – up from 16 per cent last year - and 17 per cent of the rest have conducted pilots over the past 18 months or are doing so now. That is the greatest penetration of the sample group by any UC vendor, but the report notes that the penetration of other UC vendors into businesses is growing, too.

Based on what they have heard about Lync features, more than half say they expect Lync's ability to run on virtual machines will make it more acceptable to those who decide whether to use it, as will its requirement for fewer physical servers overall. They also felt a unified instant messaging/presence/voice/voicemail client will make Lync more attractive.

The main reasons businesses are interested in UC are its support of enterprise voice, instant messaging and Web conferencing, with these factors being cited by between 48 per cent and 58 per cent of respondents as drivers or significant drivers.

Osterman's research says that organizations are using different UC features at different rates. Asked which features are available to at least some of their users, 75 per cent of respondents say Web conferencing, 74 per cent say audio conferencing, 72 per cent say instant messaging/presence, 59 per cent say desktop sharing, 58 per cent say video conferencing, 52 per cent say enterprise voice and 36 per cent say group chat.

The reasons businesses adopt UC vary, but 71 per cent say collaboration is either a driver or important driver, 68 per cent say cost savings from enterprise VoIP.

In its analysis, Osterman says that decisions about deploying UC will be affected by which group within an organization leads the effort – the e-mail team, telecom group or some hybrid. An organization's investment in PBX and e-mail systems could have a big influence, it says.

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Tags Microsoftunified communicationsNetworkingserversoftwareData Centerhardware systemsazaleosOffice Communications ServerConfiguration / maintenance

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Tim Greene

Network World
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