June 5, 2007

In this Issue:

  • Perspective: Why Unified Communications Matters to You
  • Unified Communications Articles
  • New on the Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Forum
  • May 2007 Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Articles in PDF
  • Coming this Month

Perspective: Why Unified Communications
Matters to You

There’s a seismic shift that you might have missed: Microsoft’s merging of its Exchange group under a new Unified Communications Group (UCG) almost a year and a half ago. You’ve probably noticed more coverage of UC on the Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP and Windows IT Pro sites. (See the list of UC articles at the end of the commentary.) Perhaps you dismissed UC outright as another Microsoft marketing ploy, or maybe you’re curious about UC but wonder what it has to do with your current job duties managing Exchange Server.

I’m here to tell you that Microsoft is serious about UC, and it’s something you need to start paying attention to. Even if your job now is centered mainly on administering Exchange, at some point in the foreseeable future, you could find new tasks creeping into your job description. You might be working with telephony and telecom folks, to integrate your Exchange services with VoIP softphones that give users a voice phone on their computer, which works in tandem with email, IM, and Web and videoconferencing. It’s a good bet that corporate management will turn to the messaging arm of IT to provide these services—and you’ll need to be ready to meet such requests.

UC is an evolving technology. Microsoft is releasing several new UC products and has announced UC initiatives this year, such as a UC qualification program for mobile devices and the upcoming Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 (now in beta) and Microsoft Office RoundTable, both slated for availability this fall—while of course touting Exchange Server 2007’s UC support. Third-party providers such as Cisco Systems have been more overtly focused on the UC game longer than Microsoft, but they’re also partnering with Microsoft in its UC initiative and are taking pains to promote their products’ integration with Exchange 2007 and other Microsoft UC products. The industry realizes that when Microsoft puts its weight behind a technology—for better or worse—that technology’s going to become a lot more important to IT people.

So what’s the point? The bottom line is that Exchange 2007 is now a UC product. Gradually, Exchange will evolve to become a component of an organization’s UC infrastructure, rather than the hub of “an Exchange organization.” The ability to provide seamless UC on the desktop or on a mobile device—where users can navigate easily between answering a phone call, switching the call to email, IM, or a Web conference, and give their contacts immediate, specific information about their presence—exists now. Users are smart and technologically savvy, and soon they’ll be asking IT to provide these capabilities. UC may not be in your bailiwick now, but it behooves you to keep an eye on the prevailing winds of change. Your career may depend on it.

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Email me at agrubb@windowsitpro.com. Note: I’ll be at Tech Ed June 4–6 and would love to meet any readers who will be attending. Have a great month!

Anne Grubb, Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Editor

Unified Communications Articles

"Getting Ready for Unified Communications"
"From Unified Messaging to Unified Communications"
"Microsoft's Unified Communications"
"Endpoints Are the Beginning of Easier Communication"

New on the Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Forum

Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP member Ron White asks, “Does anyone have some good troubleshooting steps for tracking looping messages in Exchange 2007? With the new Hub Transport role, the maintenance for stopping queues during a virus outbreak would be different than Exchange 2003.” You can help him out here. And check out the latest Expert Tip from Paul Robichaux.

May 2007 Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Articles in PDF

If you're someone who prefers your newsletters in printed form, check out this .pdf. It contains all the scheduled feature articles posted on the Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Web site in May. Print and enjoy!

Coming this Month

"Using the Shell to Manage Exchange 2007," by Tony Redmond

"Live Communications Server 2005 and IP Telephony Converge," by Tony Piltzecker
Coming June 12

"Exchange 2007 Transport Rules," by Tony Redmond
Coming June 19

Reader to Reader:
"What You Need to Know for Your Exchange 2007 Migration" and "A Collection of ISA 2006 and Exchange 2007 Resources," by Michael Dragone
Coming June 26

Share Your Exchange Experiences

As a messaging administrator, meeting technical problems head-on is a regular part of your job. Share your Exchange and Outlook discoveries, comments, solutions to problems, and experiences with messaging-related products with your fellow Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP readers. Email your written solutions to r2r@exchangeprovip.com. Please include your full name and phone number. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length. If we publish your submission, you'll get $100.