Microsoft Announces Office Communications Server 14
Microsoft recently unveiled plans around its Communications Server "14" at VoiceCon. Details were restricted to the next-generation Office Communicator client. Key new features include:
- Location: ability to auto-detect or populate your location based on WiFi/subnet information, etc.
- Skill search: ability to find contacts based on a user's skills, projects, or interests. This information is pulled from their SharePoint profile (which has to be manually populated one time), which OCS grabs via Web services.
A number of other enhancements to the client focus on usability. Social networking capabilities are also added, as would seem to be the case with all of Microsoft's client applications these days.
The Microsoft announcement was accompanied by a flurry of third-party announcements. Most notable was Polycom's announcement of three new phones:
- CX500 IP Phone -- optimized for use in public areas like coffee shops and airports
- CX600 IP Desktop Phone -- a midrange desktop phone
- CX300 IP Conference Phone -- a conference unit that integrates with OCS 14
With Microsoft's ongoing battle with Cisco and IBM for the Unified Communications marketplace, we view OCS 14 primarily as an attempt to level the playing ground. Microsoft's entry into the Unified Communications space is still comparatively young, and Microsoft has needed to mature features and performance to compete effectively. It would appear that OCS 14 plays a key role in achieving feature parity for Microsoft.
In addition to his role as Ferris analyst, David is Chief Architect for Quest Software, and has been a Microsoft Exchange MVP since 1998.
Enterprise Vault Gets Vivisimo Search Engine
We hear Symantec is replacing Enterprise Vault's search engine. In a nutshell:
EV currently uses the aging AltaVista search engine. This has limited functionality, and support for it is being dropped. In 2014, AltaVista turns read-only: No new material will be indexed, and only searches will be allowed.
Symantec has been working on finding a replacement for the last few years.
The new engine will be available in late 2011.
Symantec will have to decide how to integrate the new technology:
One option is rip and replace: Customers extract all content from the archive, uninstall EV, reinstall the new software, and then reingest all content.
However, this would be a major project for many customers--figure 12-24 months for larger customers!
Many customers are unhappy with EV, and would like to move to more modern technology. If Symantec chooses a rip-and-replace strategy, the upgrade efforts will be a catalyst for movement to more modern archiving technology.
Therefore, we doubt Symantec will go for rip and replace.
The other, more likely option, is that EV will support both AltaVista and Vivisimo searches. All new material will be indexed by Vivisimo; older material will keep the AltaVista indices. This will be a little inelegant at times; e.g., Vivisimo search queries are more powerful than those of AltaVista.
As noted above, the time taken to rebuild indices with a search engine will be a problem for many larger organizations.
AltaVista's indices take very little space--around 12% of the material indexed. The new indices will need more space. Some search engines, such as those of Mimosa, have indices that take as much storage as the material being indexed.
AltaVista has prevented a 64-bit version of EV. Vivisimo will permit this. A 64-bit version of EV will run faster and better than the current 32-bit version; e.g., it can use faster hardware, and it can use more memory.
Instead of Vivisimo Veracity, many customers would prefer a more mainstream search engine, such as Microsoft FAST, Autonomy Idol, or Google Search Appliance. Presumably Idol wasn't an option, because Autonomy is a major competitor to EV.
Vivisimo will allow more sophisticated searches (e.g., substrings, proximity searches) than have been possible with AltaVista.