Monday, 2 November 2009

Microsoft's unified messaging software, voicemail: Pros & cons (1/2)

Sponsored Links
Find high paying job. It's quick! It's Free!!Earn some quick money by spending just 5 minutes!!
Exchange Server 2007, with its unified messaging role, is Microsoft's latest attempt at jumping on the VoIP bandwagon. Unified messaging allows Exchange Server to essentially act as your company's central voicemail system. Voice messages can be placed into users' inboxes alongside email messages and faxes. Exchange Server's unified messaging role has many more capabilities than just voicemail, but since voicemail is the primary feature, so let's take a realistic look at Exchange 2007 and discuss whether or not unified messaging is ready for prime time.

Anywhere access

Before we start talking about system requirements and limitations, lets discuss some of the advantages of using unified messaging. If you are going to go through the hassle and expense of phasing out your existing voicemail system and replacing it with unified messaging, there have to be some benefits that make the project worthwhile.

The biggest advantage of using unified messaging (from a voicemail perspective) is that it makes it a whole lot easier for users to get their messages. With a traditional voicemail system, users basically had two methods of getting their messages. They could either dial into the voicemail system, enter a PIN and check for new messages, or they could wait until they got back to their desk and see whether the little red light on the phone was flashing. Neither of these methods is very efficient, though. Checking for the flashing red light isn't practical for those who spend a lot of time away from the desk, and dialing into the voicemail system to check messages is time-consuming and disruptive.

The Exchange unified messaging role treats voice messages like email messages. The advantage of this is that email is pervasive. The primary mechanism for checking email is Microsoft Outlook, but users may also check email through Web-based clients such as Microsoft Outlook Web Access, and messages are often sent to users' cell phones or PDAs using Direct Push or ActiveSync. The point is that users can receive email messages in any number of ways with very little effort. Unified messaging makes it possible for users to receive voice messages right alongside email messages. Of course, unified messaging still supports the traditional methods of checking voicemail.


Without a doubt, the biggest disadvantage of using unified messaging as your company's voicemail system is the implementation. The implementation process can be both complex and expensive. The biggest obstacle to a unified messaging implementation is often a company's PBX system. Exchange Server doesn't actually care what kind of PBX you have, but Exchange does need to be able to communicate with the PBX. As such, Exchange assumes that you are using an IP-based PBX that supports VoIP.

The problem is that while IP-PBX systems are becoming more common, most companies still use legacy circuit-switched PBX systems. These PBX systems use circuit-switched protocols such as Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) for transporting phone traffic. You can make Exchange work with a legacy PBX system, but to do so, you will have to implement a session initiated protocol (SIP) gateway. A SIP gateway's job is to facilitate communications between a legacy PBX and Exchange Server.
--- To be concluded in next part ---

Do not miss even a single tech update... Subscribe to RSS feeds now!

No comments: