Regardless of my previous comments related to Lync On-premise voice services being “enterprise ready”, you cannot deny that Microsoft has definitely punched a hole in the sky with Office 365 Cloud services. Taking the leading desktop collaboration solution in the market with Microsoft Lync, Lync Online delivers 100% dependability for organizations of any size. Realizing Lync’s dominance on the desktop, leading UC vendors have fallen suit in a convergence path offering enterprise-scale voice and video solutions providing co-existence capabilities which now provide customers with flexibility in order to offer onsite and remote users with a choice of client and a fit-for-purpose solution.
Continuing as the COB of Evangelyze Communications (EC), primarily a Microsoft shop, I advised to reduce our on-prem footprint of servers that we have collocated out of Level 3’s datacenter in Houston to move our Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync services to Office 365 for a month to give it a shot using the free trial service we obtained as being a Microsoft UC partner. That lasted about 5 days and we switched to Office 365 with their E4 package reducing our roughly $2,000 USD per month costs to $270 USD per month. We still maintain Lync Server On-prem today with Intelepeer Hosted Voice services as well as for UC Application development and integration with other vendor products, but will soon release a version of our leading Live Chat product for Lync with support for Lync Online.
What I have personally enjoyed most about Office 365 is the simplicity in setup and deployment. Microsoft makes switching from On-prem to Cloud very easy and intuitive with prescriptive online guidance even though Lync Online’s E4 package integration with Lync Server was a bit confusing. EC had all of its users up in one day and that’s awesome now that EC is ramping up a new application services practice with offshore development capabilities in Cameroon, Africa. I also have to provide kudos to Microsoft support. Through a demanding set of requirements that may have also influenced changes to the future of Lync Online’s API capabilities, Microsoft Office 365 support was incredible and very well connected to the Microsoft UCG product team providing quick answers, enabling contact at late hours and informed response that was unlike typical IT support.
Bottom line, kudos for Microsoft for this first release and I will definitely be looking forward to the rapid evolution of this service, most importantly the API capabilities of the platform and its integration with Cloud-based application development services.