PBX killer, Voice CAL coming to OCS in 2010

Microsoft will ship a new version of its Office Communications Server (OCS) in 2010 and another in the following year or more, according to its TechNet Web site.

The server will include new features, including native E-911 support, designed to finally establish OCS as a PBX replacement rather than a complement, which is the positioning for the current version even with its new SIP-trunking features.

In addition, Microsoft will introduce a new Voice Client Access License (CAL) needed to access the new PBX-killer's "enterprise-voice" features.

Microsoft is launching a promotion through its Software Assurance (SA) maintenance program to offer users up to two years free access to the new Voice CAL coming in OCS 2010.

OCS is the centerpiece of Microsoft's unified communications strategy and includes instant messaging, presence, conference and VoIP features. In February, the company released the latest version, OCS 2007 R2.

The TechNet Web site did not provide a deep-dive on details of what the new Voice CAL includes, but in general it has all the current voice functionality in the Enterprise 2007 R2 CAL plus something entitled "enterprise ready voice - PBX Replace Voice," Branch Survivability, E-911, PSTN Failover and Analog Device Support.

Rumors of a new Voice CAL for OCS first surfaced in February, but a blog posting on a TechNet Web site called "The Three UC Amigos" said that a news license will be required, and introduced a promotion to get users to commit to the new Voice CAL now.

The promotion will provide free access rights to the 2010 and 2011+ versions of the Voice CAL to any company that has SA coverage as of June 30, 2009 on their OCS Enterprise CAL or their Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite.

Users will have to stay current on SA through the two releases of OCS.

The promotion offer also has the option of free access to only the 2010 version of the Voice CAL to those that purchase after July 1, 2009 an SA contract for their OCS Enterprise CAL or their Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite.

Users who already have SA on OCS Enterprise CALs or their Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite only have to keep their contracts current to get the new Voice CAL at no additional charge.

The Three UC Amigos posting said new OCS releases would come in 2010, which matches up with the Office 2010 roadmap Microsoft released Wednesday, and in "2011+." The OCS releases were referred to as Wave 14 and Wave 15.

With Wave 14 there will be three CAL options and combinations: the Standard CAL covers IM and Presence; the Enterprise CAL adds conferencing; and the Voice CAL adds Voice.

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John Fontana

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