Choosing the right end-user devices (EUD) for your Lync solution is crucial for the adoption of your unified communications solution and thus for realizing your business case of lowering telecom cost and greater agility in doing business internally and with your partners and customers.
When you have setup your on premise or partner hosted Lync 2013 standard or enterprise pool(s), session border controllers (SBC’s), survivable branch appliances (SBA’s) and/or voice gateways. (Office 365 does not support Enterprise Voice and is not likely too on the short term for multinational companies). It will be time to focus on the end-user and what device he or she will be using. The same will be applicable with the upcoming Skype4Business release expected soon.
Your end-user has an important voice and can potentially block unified communications deployments if not treated properly.
Nine important factors that will effect decision making for EUD:
- Personal Taste (if end-users don’t like the device, this will slow-down adoption)
- Functionality (requested features)
- Supported platforms (Windows OS / Mac OSX and mobiles (Windows Phone, iPhone and Android, functionalities differ per supported platform)
- Qualified firmware by the selling vendor and also Microsoft (vendor page and UCOIP page)
- Compatibility with hosting partner (will your hosting partner support your selected devices)
- Available resources for deployment (devices requires installation and/or configuration and explanation)
- Available end-user adoption material (how can a user switch from his old phone to a new solution when he doesn’t know how to use it)
- Procurement method / device selection portals (global roll-outs and portals to let an end-user choose their own selected device and aggregate demand)
- Last but certainly not least cost (EUD form a big chunk of the UC business case)
Microsoft has put a tremendous amount of work together with their certified partner to help end-users choose the appropriate devices. These can be found on the UCOIP page (Infrastructure qualified for Microsoft Lync) or the following direct link:
Carefully look at the tested firmware by each vendor. This is the firmware release that has passed Microsoft Qualification process, but is in most cases not the latest release. It is expensive for vendors and time consuming to go through the qualification process. Official answer is to take only the qualified tested firmware. If you want to use a newer release with newer features, test you self or your partner can test it you in their lab.
Important categories of end-user devices and software:
- Attendant Consoles (maybe part of a Call Center solution)
- Video devices (i.e. Roundtable device etc)
A good way to start is to segment your existing user basis into profile’s. This can be for example (but differs per company):
- Executive-Admin (or secretary)
- Road Warrior
- Office Centric User
- Call Center User
- Factory Worker
Your Human Resource (HR) department can help supplying you the information about your user basis, since they have an overview of all employees and their job descriptions. Those job descriptions can be mapped against the profile’s you make.
Once the profiles are made and it’s clear how many of each user you have you can use these to selected you end-user devices per group (phone/headset/attendant console if necessary etc.)
Don’t forget, there are some non user specific devices as well, which have to be counted or estimated:
- Meetingroom devices (i.e. spiderphones or usb/Bluetooth speakers)
- Common Area phone (not restricted to a certain users)
A few tips:
- Keep the amount of chosen vendors to an absolute minimum. Every solution has to be:
- End-user material and training material needs to created for each type of devices
- The greater the volume per type, volume discounts will be more likely
- It’s wise to choose together with the vendor and the supporting partner
- With a small amount of different types, stock can potentially be held for fast delivery.
- Outside of Europe, any hardware requires a local2local procurement and billing for tax reasons like any UC hardware or other transactions. You don’t want things to get stuck into customs for months or at an airport terminal, arguing who will pay the important licenses, taxes etc.
Some vendors to keep an eye on:
- Audiocodes (supports the new OPUS codec, derived from the Skype Silk codec, used in WebRTC scenario’s)
For phones there is always a discussion if you want to use a Qualified (or 3rd party IP phone / 3PIP) or an Optimized phones (i.e. Polycom CX series).
Here are some blog’s that explain the differences. Remember that the optimized phones are running the Lync Phone Edition (developed by Microsoft), but no new features will be coming out. It will be support for the same coming 10 years as Lync 2013 will be supported. If you already have a large installed base in optimized than it’s safe to continue deploying those.
For greenfield Lync Enterprise Voice deployments, it’s advised to go to the Qualified phones aka 3PIP phones, since the vendors mentioned above can bring features that complement Microsoft Lync voice solutions, but make sure they are tested. The firmware are developed and tested against Microsoft but made by the vendors themselves.
Enjoy the selection of your EUD. It’s a fun activity to do, but very difficult and a sums up to a portion of your unified communications budget.