The core value propositions offered by UC solutions include the ability to tie communications functions more closely into existing business processes. UC is seen as fundamental for next-generation collaboration solutions. It also provides IT organizations with an answer for controlling and reducing corporate telecommunications costs, as well as archiving messages and call records for governance and compliance purposes. UC also is essential in supporting enterprise mobile initiatives.
IP telephony solutions use standards-based Internet Protocol to manage voice communications over existing local area or wide area networks (LANs or WANs). Communications sessions can be initiated via any number of end points including IP handsets, desktop or notebook computers, and certain mobile devices.
Cisco IP telephony is the foundation for Cisco Unified Communications solutions that converge voice, video and mobile applications. Cisco's solutions includes both the call processing and management layer, along with wired or wireless Cisco IP phones and applications such as Cisco IP Communicator and Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, which work with Windows or Macintosh computers.
If you like the idea of a single inbox, Cisco Unity is for you. This platform brings advanced capabilities to unified communications infrastructure. For example, it enables the unification of voice and email messaging so that you can listen to your email over a telephone, voicemail messages or even send fax messages.
The Cisco Unity product is part of the Cisco AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data) platform. Another key new capability is the platform's support for the Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, which allows your organization to extend certain unified communications (UC) capabilities to mobile devices. Unity is now supported in VMware server environments.
Microsoft's enterprise messaging server is the foundation for the company's emerging unified communications (UC) strategy. The latest version, Exchange 2010, offers powerful improvements in administration features, include self-service capabilities that help reduce operational costs by 15 percent to 20 percent. Exchange now supports access from virtually any browser, workstation or device. From the end-user's standpoint, the platform includes enhancements related to inbox organization and management along with an improved voicemail experience, including speech-to-text previews of received messages.
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 (previously called the Microsoft Office Communications Server) is all about enabling real-time communications and collaboration—in virtually any manner that employees and business partners prefer.
The platform incorporates e-mail, voice over Internet (VoIP), desktop sharing features, file transfer, instant messaging, video conferencing, and support for "presence," which lets you see when someone is available to talk, chat or otherwise communicate. Microsoft Lync Server 2010 works internally within a company's firewall, but it can also be extended to external users via the Internet as well as to connections who are using standard telephones or mobile phones. As its original name suggests, one hallmark of this platform is its close integration with the Microsoft Office suite of productivity applications.
A powerful collaboration platform, Microsoft SharePoint enables teams to share information and manage documents being edited by more than one person. The platform includes applications for producing and publishing business Web sites, for deriving business intelligence related to information in reports, databases and business applications, and for creating communities of interest where people can share ideas. SharePoint also offers a compelling content management application that is closely integrated with Microsoft Office.