Linking Windows PBX and Lync Server: Death Clutch or Bridge to Future?
Although not the first to do it, 3CX has been the most effective at getting the message out that your PBX can and will eventually run on a Windows Server. My opinion is that 3CX's marketing engine is sheer genius in how it has pushed out this message until Microsoft has picked it up themselves. In what is surely a bittersweet move for 3CX, Microsoft will most likely be the unknowing benefactor of this momentum.
Windows-based Sofware PBX's Are Vulnerable to Lync
My observation is that in the SMB space Lync Server is becoming a steam roller that is heading directly for PBX's everywhere. No one is in more direct path of Lync than Windows PBX': 3CX, pbxnsip, snom ONE and others. And among that group 3CX seems especially vulnerable.
Why Is 3CX Vulnerable to the Lync "Steam Roller"?
3CX is especially vulnerable for several reasons. Because it has been designed exclusively for Windows it is not well suited to porting to other platforms like Linux, MAC or embedded devices, one possible escape avenue. (snom ONE for example has a Linux and Mac following) 3CX also has the handicap of being a relative software PBX newcomer: needing to fight stability issues evidenced by frequent updates, lack of some PBX features, and a large but less experienced VAR channel. One last thing is that 3CX is not well suited to hosted senarios because of a lack of multi-tenant capabilities. (One of the key reasons Microsoft buried its own SMB PBX WindowsXP Embedded based-product, Response Point, was because it was not designed to do hosting well)
Where Can Windows PBX Vendors Shine?
In my opinion it is only a matter of time until Microsoft makes Lync Server as easy to install as its famed Small Business Server. From OCS 2007 R2 to Lync 2010, the product has become exponentially simpler to implement. In the mean time what do Windows PBX's need to do to stay relevant? And extend their time in the sun?
Low Infrastructure Requirements: snom ONE has done especially excellent on this one. The snom ONE pbx application is only about 16MB in size meaning it can run on about anything including small embedded devices. With snom ONE there are also almost zero O/S requirements. 3CX has also done excellent in this area although they have more operating system prerequisites.
Ease of use: This is an area that 3CX has given huge amount attention and they have been rewarded handsomely for it. 3CX has made sure that the uninitiated "IT guy" can get a simple 3CX system up and running. The first thing that comes to mind is the wizards to setup PSTN/PRI gateways which otherwise can be the most trouble prone part of a software PBX setup. (next only to firewall traversal)
Efficiant & No-Fiddle Ongoing Administration:
Competetive Cost: 3CX has traditionally been the "low price" vendor among commercial Windows PBX vendors out of nessesity as a newcomer with less mature product and less features. But recently with snom's aquisition of pbxnsip a new dynamic among Window's PBX's: snom is not dependent on profits from the software PBX alone and can "subsidize" its quite mature product, snom ONE, with deskphone sales. But in any case Windows PBX vendors are less investment than Lync server both infrasture and licensing wise.
Do Core PBX Features Well: On this one snom ONE hits a home run. It has spent years adding core pbx features to its solution and has pretty well nailed most features users coming from legacy pbx's want.
Basic UC stuff like Instant Messaaging & Presence: Lync does IM, desktop sharing, video conferencing and integration to CRM/Sharepoint/Outlook in such a smooth and natural way this is not a place pbx vendors should try to beat them at. It's a loosing battle. But PBX vendors should develope basic IM, Presence, etc so it takes some of the pressure off company's who need basic versions of these features.
Perhaps you have some more ideas? I'd love to hear your comments.
Options to Integrate Your Windows PBX and Lync?
-Get a snom phone as they can register to Lync and your PBX at the same time--and set Lync presence "on call" status automatically (even for 3CX) Click here to see it in action.
-Consider snom ONE Windows-based PBX. Integration to Lync is supported. Free 10 extension system.
-Watch this forum thread: click here
I think anyone in the Windows communication field needs to take a hard look at Lync.
Discussion on Integrating 3CX and Lync Server