Thursday, 5 November 2009

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

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--- Continued from Part 1 ---

Another important consideration regarding a unified messaging implementation is that, depending on the size of your organization, you may want to use a dedicated server to act as a unified messaging server, rather than trying to piggyback the unified messaging role on one of your other Exchange servers. Because of voice prompts, unified messaging is processor-intensive, so offloading the unified messaging role to a dedicated server is a good idea. The adjoining figure shows what a typical unified messaging deployment looks like. In the figure, an IP-PBX and a legacy PBX are running in parallel so that you can see how the SIP gateway fits into the picture. Click on the figure to see enlarged picture.

Keep in mind that voice messages are not actually stored on the unified messaging server but, rather, in each user's Exchange mailbox. You will therefore want to make sure that users' mailbox servers have plenty of free disk space to accommodate voice messages.

Other considerations

There are two extremely important issues one must consider while implementing unified messaging. The first one involves licensing. Unified messaging works by placing voicemail messages into users' Exchange Server mailboxes. This means that you will have to purchase an Exchange Server Client Access License (CAL) for any user who will be using unified messaging. The other issue is that unified messaging stores a user's voice, email, and fax messages within a single database. So robust hosting solution become extremely important. If the server which is hosting the database fails, users with mailboxes on that server will lose access to all three types of messages until the server is brought back online. You can, however, utilize clustering solutions to minimize the chances of such a failure.

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