As Enterprises make the move to an IP/SIP based communications network, they are able to enable real-time communications for their employees. While these newly enabled communicationscommuncations quickly increase employee productivity and profitability, they can also open up your network to new security concerns. To truly secure your communications network, you need more than just a firewall. Read the top five reasons how Session Border Controllers (SBCs) can turn the phrase “We have security on our network” to “We have a secure network”.

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Skype does more than give you a free way to talk online. In fact, Skype has plenty of handy features that can help you manage your small business no matter where you are or what technology you use. We’ve collected the best-kept secrets to help you harness the power of Skype for your small business.
Skype: Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device
Skype is a universal application, and it runs on just about any operating system and device you can imagine: PC, Mac and Linux; desktops and laptops, tablets, phones, smart TVs and even the Xbox. Skype doesn’t cost anything to download and use, although some add-on features will cost you.
Additionally, in many situations you can use Skype without anyone knowing it. As far as the people you are talking to are concerned, you could be in your office at your desk when you are, in fact, sitting on the beach on the other side of the world.
5 Things You Didn’t Know Skype Could Do
1. Cutting Small Business Phone Costs
Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but they require pre-planning because you and the person you’re talking to each have to use Skype. However, if you buy Skype Credit or sign up for a Skype subscription service, you can use Skype to call both landline and mobile phones anywhere in the world—and still cut small business phone costs in the process.
Even in your own country, the per-minute cost for a Skype call is typically much less than your telephone provider would charge. And, if you’re sunning yourself on the beach in a foreign climate you’ll find Skype usually costs a whole lot less than the price your telco charges for international roaming. Learn more about Skype rates and payment options.

2. Training Online with Skype
Skype is a great tool for online training. Skype calls can combine audio with video and let you see the other person on the call. And if you have access to a video camera, they can see you too. Up to 10 people can participate at once, and this service is currently available for a range of devices (including desktops, laptops, Xbox, and tablets) with mobile support coming soon.
You can also share screens using Skype, which lets you see the other person’s screen, and you can even operate their screen using your mouse. This makes Skype handy for providing (and receiving) technical help, and for collaborative and training purposes. If you need to share files, click the plus symbol on the screen, and you can upload a file to share with all participants.
3. Send a SMS Text Without a Phone
Even if you aren’t using a mobile phone you can send an SMS text to anyone via Skype. This feature also comes in handy if your phone’s keypad is too small for you to type comfortably; use Skype to type a message with your computer’s keyboard. You’ll need some Skype Credit, as this is a for-fee feature.
Launch Skype, and click the Call button. From the flag dropdown list, select the country that you want to SMS and type the local number in that country. Instead of clicking to make a phone call, click the SMS button and type your SMS message. The cost of the message appears underneath the message line—click to send the message when you’re done.
4. Look Like a Local
Skype makes it easy for you to have a presence in another country via a local Skype number. If you have clients in the UK, for example, you can buy a UK number through Skype. Give that number to your clients so they can call a UK number at UK call rates to talk to you. When they call you, the call will come to your Skype account. If being connected to Skype 24/7 isn’t convenient you can use Skype call forwarding to send all calls to your mobile or landline.
You pay for the Skype UK number and the cost of forwarding calls from Skype to your phone. If the impression of being “local” is important to your business, this option is easy to set up and fairly inexpensive. Skype numbers cost $5 per month for a 12 month subscription and per-minute call forwarding charges vary. Learn more about Skype’s online numbers.
5. Call from Website
Place a Skype Button on your website or blog, and visitors can click it to call you or send you a message. These buttons offer a one-click way for customers or team members to contact you regardless of your location.
You can configure the button to let site visitors call you, message you, or both. Because they’re calling your Skype number you can answer the call via Skype, or you can have the call forwarded to your mobile or landline. You can also have Skype answer the call—if you sign up for Skype voice mail. If you decide to use this service, remember to change your Skype settings; you must configure Skype to let you receive calls from people who aren’t on your contact list. You make that change via the Skype Options in the Privacy Settings tab.
This article excerpt, by Helen Bradley, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1uU9JIV

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Microsoft are beginning the roll out of Clutter to Office 365 business customers, which brings the power of Office Graph to your inbox. Clutter is designed to help you focus on the most important messages in your inbox. It uses machine learning to de-clutter your inbox by moving lower priority messages out of your way and into a new Clutter folder. Ultimately, Clutter removes distractions so you can focus on what matters most.

The Clutter experience

Take a look at this video to learn how Clutter helps you keep focused on the most important items in your inbox.

How Clutter works

Clutter learns from your actions to determine the messages you are likely to ignore. As less important messages arrive, they are automatically moved to the Clutter folder. Clutter does this by leveraging Office Graph’s sophisticated machine learning techniques to determine which messages are Clutter. It gets smarter over time, learning from your prior actions with similar messages, and assessing things like the type of content and even how you are addressed in the message. The Clutter experience is personalized to each individual and reflects an email experience that adapts to your actions and preferences without you having to do anything. The information Clutter learns from each user’s actions are only applied to that user’s experience and are not shared with anyone else.

Getting started with Clutter

By default, Clutter is disabled for your inbox. Each person controls whether to turn Clutter on or off. You control Clutter from the Outlook Web App (OWA) options menu. You can turn it on as soon as Clutter is available for your Office 365 tenant. Clutter begins taking actions once it has sufficiently learned your work style and can confidently begin working for you. If you later find Clutter isn’t for you, it can be turned off any time.

Clutter is best suited and most effective for those of us who tend to pile up messages in our inboxes. Clutter respects your existing email rules, so if you have created rules to organize your email those rules continue to be applied and Clutter won’t act on those messages.

Working with Clutter

The less important messages are simply moved to the Clutter folder. They remain out of your way until you have time to review the items—if you choose to. You can proactively train Clutter by marking items as Clutter or simply move the items to the Clutter folder. If you find items in your Clutter folder that shouldn’t be there, train Clutter by moving the message back to your inbox. Clutter continuously learns and will adapt to your new patterns within days when you begin working on new projects or a new role. As you work with Clutter it will notify you of its activity in your inbox, this is Clutter helping you keep in control of your messages

The Clutter folder allows you to take advantage of the feature across many email clients including Outlook, OWA, OWA for devices, or EAS connected devices. Clutter continuously learns from your actions across these clients. Regardless of the client, the messages moved to the Clutter folder are out of your inbox view—yet readily accessible.

Frequently asked questions

Q. When will the Clutter feature be available in my Office 365 environment?

A. Customers who have opted into First Release will begin seeing the Clutter feature today. We are first rolling out the feature to those using the English locale, other languages will follow as localization is complete. Deployment to standard deployment tenants is targeted to begin later this month.

Q. I turned Clutter on but nothing happened?

A. Clutter is still learning so that it can provide strong predictions and will only begin taking actions once it has a learned your work style. You can expedite Clutter’s learning by moving messages into the Clutter folder to help train it. The more you move, the faster it will learn.

Q. Can I disable Clutter after I have turned it on?

A. Yes, you can turn Clutter off. It can be turned off from the OWA options page. If turned off existing items in the Clutter folder will remain in the Clutter folder.

Q. How to train Clutter that items are or aren’t Clutter?

A. The easiest way to train Clutter is by simply completing your work. You can explicitly train Clutter by moving items to or from the Clutter folder. In OWA, Clutter-specific actions are available as a right-click commands to mark items as Clutter or not Clutter.

Q. Are clutter items automatically deleted after a specified time period?

A. The Clutter folder does not apply a specific clean-up action. The default policy for a new folder is applied to the Clutter folder at time of creation, and can later be changed. Users in OWA are provided Clutter specific quick clean-up tools to expedite the deletion of the Clutter messages.

Q. Does Clutter work in Outlook desktop clients?

A. Yes. Once turned on by the user, the Clutter folder is available in Outlook and is automatically added in your folder Favorites. In Outlook, users interact with Clutter by moving items to/from the Clutter folder, which trains Clutter for your inbox. You must use the OWA options menu to turn Clutter on or off.

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Skype does more than give you a free way to talk online. In fact, Skype has plenty of handy features that can help you manage your small business no matter where you are or what technology you use. We’ve collected the best-kept secrets to help you harness the power of Skype for your small business.
Skype: Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device
Skype is a universal application, and it runs on just about any operating system and device you can imagine: PC, Mac and Linux; desktops and laptops, tablets, phones, smart TVs and even the Xbox. Skype doesn’t cost anything to download and use, although some add-on features will cost you.
Additionally, in many situations you can use Skype without anyone knowing it. As far as the people you are talking to are concerned, you could be in your office at your desk when you are, in fact, sitting on the beach on the other side of the world.
5 Things You Didn’t Know Skype Could Do
1. Cutting Small Business Phone Costs
Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but they require pre-planning because you and the person you’re talking to each have to use Skype. However, if you buy Skype Credit or sign up for a Skype subscription service, you can use Skype to call both landline and mobile phones anywhere in the world—and still cut small business phone costs in the process.
Even in your own country, the per-minute cost for a Skype call is typically much less than your telephone provider would charge. And, if you’re sunning yourself on the beach in a foreign climate you’ll find Skype usually costs a whole lot less than the price your telco charges for international roaming. Learn more about Skype rates and payment options.

2. Training Online with Skype
Skype is a great tool for online training. Skype calls can combine audio with video and let you see the other person on the call. And if you have access to a video camera, they can see you too. Up to 10 people can participate at once, and this service is currently available for a range of devices (including desktops, laptops, Xbox, and tablets) with mobile support coming soon.
You can also share screens using Skype, which lets you see the other person’s screen, and you can even operate their screen using your mouse. This makes Skype handy for providing (and receiving) technical help, and for collaborative and training purposes. If you need to share files, click the plus symbol on the screen, and you can upload a file to share with all participants.
3. Send a SMS Text Without a Phone
Even if you aren’t using a mobile phone you can send an SMS text to anyone via Skype. This feature also comes in handy if your phone’s keypad is too small for you to type comfortably; use Skype to type a message with your computer’s keyboard. You’ll need some Skype Credit, as this is a for-fee feature.
Launch Skype, and click the Call button. From the flag dropdown list, select the country that you want to SMS and type the local number in that country. Instead of clicking to make a phone call, click the SMS button and type your SMS message. The cost of the message appears underneath the message line—click to send the message when you’re done.
4. Look Like a Local
Skype makes it easy for you to have a presence in another country via a local Skype number. If you have clients in the UK, for example, you can buy a UK number through Skype. Give that number to your clients so they can call a UK number at UK call rates to talk to you. When they call you, the call will come to your Skype account. If being connected to Skype 24/7 isn’t convenient you can use Skype call forwarding to send all calls to your mobile or landline.
You pay for the Skype UK number and the cost of forwarding calls from Skype to your phone. If the impression of being “local” is important to your business, this option is easy to set up and fairly inexpensive. Skype numbers cost $5 per month for a 12 month subscription and per-minute call forwarding charges vary. Learn more about Skype’s online numbers.
5. Call from Website
Place a Skype Button on your website or blog, and visitors can click it to call you or send you a message. These buttons offer a one-click way for customers or team members to contact you regardless of your location.
You can configure the button to let site visitors call you, message you, or both. Because they’re calling your Skype number you can answer the call via Skype, or you can have the call forwarded to your mobile or landline. You can also have Skype answer the call—if you sign up for Skype voice mail. If you decide to use this service, remember to change your Skype settings; you must configure Skype to let you receive calls from people who aren’t on your contact list. You make that change via the Skype Options in the Privacy Settings tab.
This article excerpt, by Helen Bradley, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1uU9JIV

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Session border controllers (SBCs) connect Lync to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) via session initiation protocol (SIP) trunks. More simply, SBCs let Lync users make calls to and receive calls from ordinary phones. In truth, SBCs do many more things and I’ve found lots of confusion related to SBCs and SIP trunking in the context of Lync.
So let’s take a look at some of the questions I’m often asked.
Q: Why would I want to use a SIP trunk as opposed to PRIs?
Using PRIs for Lync connectivity to the PSTN requires you to have gateways in every area code where your business operates — or, technically, in every NPA-NXX range. A SIP trunking provider can offer points of presence (i.e., phone numbers) in almost every location across North America. You can manage a single SBC and a single connection to the PSTN as opposed to multiple PRIs and multiple gateways.
Q: Do I really need an SBC with Lync?
Technically, “No.” You can connect a Lync-certified SIP trunk directly to your Lync Mediation Server. This is a great setup if you want to pilot SIP trunking. However, in a production environment, many security departments take issue with a SIP trunk connected directly to a Lync Mediation Server.
Q: Which SBCs are compatible with Lync?
You can find the list of SBCs qualified for use with Lync Server 2013 and Lync Server 2010 at Microsoft’s Lync TechCenter. Currently eight vendors offer Lync 2013-qualified SBCs. In my experience, most enterprise organizations choose devices from AudioCodes or Sonus while carriers favor the more expensive SBCs from Acme Packet (now Oracle). As always, document your specific requirements and then evaluate which device is best for you.
Q: Which SIP trunking providers offer Lync-compatible services?
By my count, and as provided on TechCenter, 53 providers offer SIP trunking services qualified for Lync 2013. Many of these providers offer services in specific geographies, so you may not need to consider all the choices. If you already use PRI services, moving to SIP service with the same provider may be easiest (contractually).
Q: Do I really need to use a Lync-certified SIP trunking provider?
If you plan to connect the SIP trunk directly to your Lync Mediation Server then, “Yes.”
If you plan to connect the SIP trunk to an SBC and then to your Mediation Server then, “No.” The SBC will likely be able to do whatever signal and media transcoding is required to make Lync and the SIP trunk work well together. This is definitely more work and will require more testing. In my experience, the most tweaking comes into play when dealing with caller ID display during advanced call scenarios, such as SIM ringing a mobile phone.
Q: Do SBCs improve the security of Lync federation, remote access, or instant messaging?
No. While SBC vendors sometimes describe SBCs as “security firewalls for unified communications” with Lync, voice is the only traffic to and from the PSTN that flows through the SBC.
Remote users and users at federated organizations connect through the Lync Edge Server, not the SBC.
Q: What else should I know about SBCs and SIP trunks?
SIP technology is newer and less well understood than PRIs, which have been around seemingly forever. This means fewer people understand SIP well, nuances are still being worked out, and your SIP implementation will likely not go as smoothly as you would like. An SBC can really help with smoothing out any signaling issues (even when working with a Lync-qualified SIP trunking provider) or manipulating inbound and outbound caller IDs.
While many No Jitter articles detail SIP challenges, the opportunity to centralize your communications architecture using SIP means that the gains outweigh the pains. Without an SBC, however, the manipulations you can do with Lync alone might sometimes prevent you from getting the job done.
This article excerpt, by Kevin Kieller, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/10jaAq6

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If you have been following the From Inside the Cloud series, we regularly bring you an insider’s view on how we operate and manage the Office 365 service for security, privacy and compliance directly from the people behind the service.
Recently, there have been a number of cyber security related news articles about vulnerabilities and exploits. If you are wondering if the Cloud increases your data risk, in this week’s episode we focus on the measures that our engineering team has in place to prepare for emerging security threats to the Office 365 service.
As we explain in this short video, we operate under the assumption that no computer system is perfectly secure, so we invest heavily in the “Assume Breach” approach.
Our colleague, Vivek Sharma, in his discussion on whether your data is safe at rest, highlighted the role of the Red and Blue teams as part of our “Assume Breach” approach.
And as core strategists of this approach for Office 365, today’s post focuses further on explaining the role of our Red team, an internal dedicated team of “white hat” hackers from varied industry backgrounds such as broader technology industry, defense and government, who conduct penetration testing on our system.
As a team, we push ourselves to creatively anticipate and simulate attacks from real-world adversaries using Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) that we know from ongoing research on emerging threats and trends. This then leads to the proactive exploration of vulnerabilities during a phase we call “reconnaissance” followed by “exploitation” where we try to bypass protections that may be in place and then lastly attempts to “access” the data. We in fact offer a number of examples of how we may go about this in this video.
Of course, as we do this there are clear rules of engagement to ensure that as we test the system we do not target customer data, impact service availability or compromise existing in place security.
Further, balancing the Red team is the Blue team whose role it is to monitor activities within the system to detect anomalous behavior and take action. As hard as the Red team is trying to find and exploit vulnerabilities the Blue team is trying to detect, investigate and mitigate security events.
Our red and blue teams work together within engineering to fix and harden the service. You can see and hear more on the Blue team’s work in our next post on Office Blogs, with lead engineer Matt Swann, who takes us behind the scenes of intrusion detection.
The combined efforts of our teams go toward improving detection by evolving our machine learning algorithms for the detection of anomalous activity as well as incident response.
We hope that today’s explanation offers a useful overview of how we prepare and plan for emerging security threats to keep your data safe.
Let us know what else you would like us to cover in this series—send us your comments and questionsand of course you can find more by visiting the Office 365 Trust Center.
This article excerpt, by Chang Kawaguchi, Travis Rhodes and Vijay Kumar, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1EpUR5J

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Cloud computing isn’t merely changing the way much of the technology business works. Now it is changing itself, and putting even more computing power in more places.
On Monday, Microsoft, which operates one of the biggest so-called “public clouds,” or large and flexible computing systems available for remote rental, announced several changes to its data storage and processing services that will make them more powerful.
Microsoft also announced a partnership with Dell to sell a kind of “cloud in a box,” or hardware and software that created a mini-version of Microsoft’s cloud, called Azure, inside a company.
The idea is that a company could work with its own version of Azure, then easily move up to the giant version Microsoft has to handle big workloads. Hewlett-Packard may be after something similar with its effort to create a private-public cloud business based on the HP cloud, which uses a kind of open source software.
What all of this means is that cloud computing, which makes it easier to tie more things to computers and more easily manage software, is starting to appear in even more forms and types. Within each corporate proposition, including Google and Amazon, as well as Microsoft, HP and others, there appears to be an increasing trend toward offering more flexibility. Generally it’s done by abstracting what were functions of specialized hardware into more easily altered software.
Microsoft’s announcements this week came after the news last week that it would offer Windows Server technology on Docker, a fast-moving open source project (and start-up company of the same name) that takes cloud-type software abstractions even farther. Docker’s so-called “containers,” which were previously available on the Linux operating system, make it possible to build, deploy and update a software application anywhere in the world.
Adding to this confusing paradise of computing power, flexibility, and global software deployment, on Wednesday a company called Bracket Computing announced that it had a technology that makes it possible to run high-performance corporate computing systems across several public clouds at the same time.
While it now works only with different geographic locations inside the global cloud of Amazon Web Services, Bracket hopes eventually to enable companies to securely manage their computing across several public clouds at once. This kind of brokering, if successful, could mean further competition among the public clouds, either on price or service.
People who had worked with the Bracket System were impressed. “Even just with A.W.S., this is powerful,” said Frank Palase, senior vice president of strategy at DirectTV. “Abstracting over several cloud providers would mean we could have high levels of performance with no fear of outages,” since one system could be brought up if another failed.
It’s also possible that Bracket’s Computing Cell could hold containers, like Docker, inside its system.
For all the new terminology and hand-waving around these developments, at least one thing is clear: The cheap and easy cloud is also catching up in areas like reliability and management ease, where it has been criticized. Like all big computing trends, it has started rough, but it appears to be stabilizing and getting bigger.
This article excerpt, by Quentin Hardy, originally appeared here: http://nyti.ms/10M0OgV

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If you’ve brought Microsoft Lync into your organization as a tool for instant messaging and presence, like many have, then you probably haven’t given much thought to its use for room-based collaboration. But, ultimately, that’s exactly where you might find yourself.
Enterprises often begin at IM and presence, possibly with some peer-to-peer voice tossed in. The next stepping stones are audio and Web conferencing, as they make for easy ROI compared against hosted options, Kevin Kieller, partner at enableUC, told attendees of this week’s No Jitter Webinar, “Extending the Life of Your Video Investments Through Microsoft Lync” (now available on demand).
What’s needed is that last stop along the migration path: Lync as a tool for room-based collaboration, allowing people to collaborate whether in a group meeting face to face or at far-flung locations. “Room-based collaboration, where video has a guaranteed offering, can play a tremendous role,” Kieller said.
Quite frankly, however, many organizations aren’t really sure how to deliver room-based collaboration via Lync, Kieller said. Ted Colton, a group vice president at Polycom, agreed, noting that investment in the company’s dedicated room collaboration solution for Lync has been a little slow, but is on the rise.
Lync on Steroids
In working with enableUC clients, Kieller said he’s noticed several trends among organizations that have already made or want to make the leap and use Lync for room-based collaboration. First, they place a strong emphasis on usage and adoption as key performance indicators — no surprise there, given how important ease of use is for technology adoption. “But when it comes to room-based collaboration, even before ease of use is ease of scheduling,” he said.
Users want to know how easily they can book rooms, confident that the equipment matches their needs, for example. Most organizations are looking to do this through their normal Outlook calendars and want seamless integration with other Lync functionality, Kieller added. “They want something that comes into the Lync ecosystem, extends it, and makes it better.”
Ideally, users would be able to walk into a conference room and in one click have a Lync collaboration session up and running and drawing in remote participants. And, he added, if the organization is using Lync federation, then that means those remote participants might just as easily be external to the company as internal. In addition, anything the user experiences with Lync while accessing it from a desktop or mobile client should carry forward into the room, be that sharing desktops or documents … or conducting a video meeting.
The expectation is having the same functionality across all modalities, Kieller said. “To a Lync user, it should feel like Lync on steroids.”
For IT, this shouldn’t be about rip and replacement, he added. Rather, organizations should be able to leverage an existing room-based video system.
Giving Lync Some Love
Establishing Lync’s use for room-based collaboration takes more than just good technology, however. Kieller emphasized organizations need to do their due diligence and study the specific use cases that’ll provide measurable benefit. In other words, “you have to do a little work to uncover, document and prioritize what your most typical room-based collaboration scenarios are going to look like — size of audience and where they’re most likely to occur, for example,” he said.
And, just as with any technology, “the perfect room-based collaboration solution would be supported by the appropriate communications, change management and training,” Kieller said. “All three of those are really targeted to make sure your end users understand how to use the equipment and get the most out of the experience.”
This article excerpt, by Beth Schultz, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1yraZ4N

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What does Lync have to offer for a company striving for an effective corporate telephony strategy? As more than one business analyst has observed, Lync can prove itself as a corporate telephony strategy in itself.
Like any business tool, a telephony system should ultimately contribute to improving the business’ bottom line. It needs to save staff time and money, and incorporate tools that encourage employee interaction and collaboration through effective communication.
A Lync product manager describing Microsoft’s leading business productivity tool would tell you it simplifies the way a business communicates, shares expertise, gains business insight and finds information.
Functionally, they would say Lync offers IM chat and presence, P2P voice, HD video, desktop and application sharing, and multi-party conferencing that can be any combination of audio, video and content. They would also say Lync can completely replace your PBX, integrate with your LoB applications, and run on most devices that your business would already use, including PCs, Macs, tablets, iPads, and smartphones running Windows Phone, iOS or Android.
Finally, they would say Lync allows you to bring all of your in-house videoconferencing capability onto a single platform, and gives control over the meeting types and how they are run. Overall, they would say that with content sharing, whiteboarding, polling, Q&A, and a range of other conference features make Lync a very powerful and compelling business tool; and they would be right!
Beyond Microsoft Marketing

But getting beyond the marketing talk, where does Lync sit in the ever evolving trend of corporate telephony? Evidence suggests it is fast becoming the first choice for full PBX replacement.
For the third year in a row, business research and advisory firm T3i has published The Impact of Microsoft Lync on the Enterprise Voice Market, an in-depth primary research and analysis of Lync for enterprise voice and PBX replacement. The report, taken from a survey of US enterprises (500+ employees) and small businesses, revealed that:
72% of those surveyed were either conducting or had completed trials of Microsoft Lync (up from 42% a year ago)
89% indicated that Lync Enterprise Voice had been, or will be, included in their Lync trials
More than half of the enterprises that were in the planning stages last year have begun their deployment, increasing the percent of enterprises in deployment mode to 44%, nearly tripling from 15% from a year ago.
When asked for their current preferred vendor for IP-PBXs, 38% of the enterprises selected Microsoft, the highest percentage of any vendor.
There’s no doubt Lync maximizes business impact by delivering powerful experiences across the PC, phone and browser for the way employees work today – and the way they can expect to work in the future, supporting flexible work-life balance cultivating a more personal culture. Ultimately, this makes for happier, more productive employees who work well together for ongoing business success.
Pundits and analysts aside, that bottom line is perhaps the best reason to consider Lync as the core of your corporate telephony strategy.
This article excerpt, by Maria Martinez-Torres, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1nQSLtk

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 This article excerpt, by Art Rosenberg, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1ontRly
Voice conversations are not going away for person-to-person communications, and will be available under the UC umbrella for a long time. However, because of the dynamic needs of a mobile user, voice will not always be the practical way for a mobile user to communicate or interact with a self-service online application.
Why? Because mobile end users still need privacy in their interactions wherever they are, and must also avoid disrupting any local activity they are participating in (e.g. a meeting). Finally, if a mobile end user is in a noisy environment, voice conversations will be difficult or impossible to conduct efficiently.
So, what is a practical mobile alternative to a traditional business phone conversation?
Person-to-Person Contacts
Text messaging in near-real time is a practical way to make contact and exchange information with people, and is readily available through smartphones and tablets. Rather than a traditional phone call being a first step for contacts with people, we now see various forms of text-based communications becoming the starting point, whether it be an IM contact (e.g., Lync), an email, an SMS message, or even a social post.
Text messaging has been around for a long time and is slowly but surely displacing “blind” phone calls for person-to-person contact. With smartphones and UC flexibility, text message contact can be readily escalated to a voice or video connection or even a group conference call based upon the availability of the communicating parties.
What is important to consider is that, as end users become more mobile, they will not necessarily be able to engage in a voice or “on-camera” video exchange. What will then be the most reliable form of communication and the least disruptive form of multitasking will be text messaging and visual information exchanges.
Notifications and Online Interactions
Because mobile users with smartphones and tablets can now interact with automated business process applications, such users can be either a contact initiator or recipient of an interaction with an online application. In particular, with increased mobile accessibility, end users can receive timely automated notifications from any of their service providers, whenever there is a situation that they need to be aware of and should take action for.
Mobile notification messages will be particularly time-efficient, because they can include informational text or photos, and immediate response options for access to online self-service apps or flexible “click-for assistance” access to qualified personnel. In this way, the communication loop can be quickly closed cost-efficiently in time-sensitive business processes, especially in vertical markets like health care, financial services, government, etc.
With unified communications, mobile recipients should be able to exploit different levels of non-disruptive notification and response. This can include the use of screen-based, wearable iWatches (Apple, Pebble), which can simply “tap” the recipient’s wrist without generating disruptive sounds for an incoming phone call or text message. After such a notification “tap” is received, the actual visual or voice content can then be selectively controlled by the recipient and responded to, based on their current situation and convenient access to a smartphone or tablet for voice or video conversations.
Just as a voice conversation can be disruptive or difficult in a person-to-person connection, the same will apply to any interaction with an automated application. Privacy considerations will also apply when interacting with a mobile app, thus limiting the use of voice input and output for legacy telephony IVR self-service applications. While a case may be made for mobile users to consider wearing wireless Bluetooth headsets to deal with person-to-person voice/video calls, interactions with just visual self-service mobile apps won’t really benefit from that approach.
Incidentally, there is also a need for mobile recipients to have screening control over the many automated notifications they may receive from business process applications (CEBP), some of which will be important, others just annoying. 
The bottom line for business communications mobility is that it will require users to have flexible control over how they want to initiate a contact and how they want to receive and respond to a contact. Such contacts will increasingly be various forms of near real-time messaging, since mobile recipients will be less available to have ad hoc real-time voice or video conversations.

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