After years of quietly building a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) strategy on several fronts, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT – news) now is stepping up its VoIP efforts and is poised for major initiatives in both the enterprise and carrier space.
According to new research from IDC, the centerpiece of this increased activity is session initiation protocol (SIP) applications being developed for Microsoft’s Office Live Communications Server 2005.
In the past, Microsoft has kept a low profile around its development and marketing strategy for VoIP. But all of that is about to change.
The company has developed partnerships with major IP-PBX vendors, such as Siemens (NYSE: SI – news) and Alcatel, to help jump-start the move into enterprise IP telephony.
These partnerships represent an important step toward strengthening Microsoft’s position in the VOIP space. On the flipside, however, many vendors in the IP PBX market worry about Microsoft as a competitor, especially in the area of the high-end collaborative applications.
Real-time collaborative applications, such as instant messaging and Web conferencing, increasingly have VoIP features. This association should dramatically enhance VoIP’s stature.
“VoIP has become a lightning rod for a new competitive dynamic between I.T. and telecom vendors,” noted Tom Valovic, IDC’s program director for VoIP Infrastructure.
“A battle for the enterprise desktop is looming between major I.T. and telecom vendors, and at the center of it are innovative types of user-defined communications and the marriage of telecom-based convergence and I.T.-based desktop collaboration,” he said.
The key to this part of Microsoft’s strategy is the connected services framework (CSF), an integrated set of applications designed to allow service providers to deliver converged services across multiple networks and a range of device types.
By deploying the CSF, service providers can bring together not only Microsoft services such as Microsoft Solution for Hosted Exchange 2003, the Microsoft TV platform and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server, but also a broad array of operator-developed and third-party services and content.
Telecommunications operators such as BT, Bell Canada and Celcom Malaysia are deploying CSF to facilitate the delivery of services to their customers.
Good stuff. I think Microsoft really very anticipated the pickup of VOIP / IP Telephony (which ever term you prefer) by building solutions to integrate and operate within this converging environment.