Microsoft and third-party vendors such as Cisco Systems, Avaya, Nortel, and Polycom offer products that support Unified Communications (UC), and have their own definitions for UC.
If we talk about Microsoft here, Microsoft offers two integrated solutions: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 that are the key players in Microsoft's UC strategy. Together they bridge the gap between computers and telephones. They integrate with your company's exisiting phone system and deliver complete communication services using your existing data network.
So in the world of Unified Communications, Microsoft offers Exchange as the Unified Messaging component, handling voicemail, fax, and telephone access to messaging. OCS is the component that offers IM, conferencing, presence, and voice services.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unfied Messaging
Here are the features that Unified Messaging Role provides in Exchange Server 2007:
Outlook Voice Access (OVA): Outlook Voice Access allows a phone to be a Unified Messaging client. A text-to-speech engine is built into the UM server to allow email message to be read from a users mailbox. A UM-enabled user can call into their company's UM server and can access Voicemail, Email, Calendar, Contacts, OOO messages and security and personalization settings.
Call Answering: Say if a user receives any external call, this call will be routed via IP/PBX or a VoIP gateway, if the destination user is not available, this call will be routed to Unified Messaging Server. The external user will be given an option to leave a voice mail and it will be delivered to the mailbox server, else the user will be notified of the missed call.
Auto Attendant: The Auto Attendant in the Exchange Unified Messaging Server allows an organization to create customized menus, custom greetings, searching directory etc.
Fax Receiving: The UM server provides the ability to receive faxes in .tiff format via IP/PBX or VoIP gateway.
Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007
Office Communications Server 2007 manages all real-time (synchronous) communications including: instant messaging, VoIP, audio and video conferencing. It works with existing tele-communications systems, so business can deploy advanced VoIP and conferencing without tearing out their legacy phone networks. Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 also powers Presence. With presence, you can see at-a-glance if someone is available and contact them with a click using instant messaging, a phone call or a video.
Microsoft unified communications technologies delivers voice and video conferencing through Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 via IP. This means that conference call audio and video streams are captured and logged just like an instant message or an email.
The complete conferencing solution requires:
- Office Communications Server 2007
- Microsoft Office Communicator 2007
- Microsoft Office Live Meeting service (2007)
- Video-equipped computers and/or VoIP phones
Integration of Exchange 2007 and OCS 2007
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 can be deployed together to provide voice messaging, Instant Messaging (IM), enhanced user presence, audio-video conferencing, and an integrated e-mail and messaging experience for users in your organization.
Here are the key features and benefits that they will provide together:
- You get the missed call notifications or voice mails when someone calls you via OCS client.
- You get a notification when someone IMs you and you are offline or away.
- OCS automatically uses the out-of-office (OOF) message text you set in Exchange.
- Presence information displayed in Microsoft Outlook 2003/2007 and in Windows Sharepoints Services team sites and document libraries.
So in a nutshell, you are Connected... Always!