Exchange 12 could boost UM

Along with the boost that unified messaging is enjoying from SIP (Taking a SIP from Unified Messaging), the technology is expected to get another shot in the arm later this year or in early 2007 when Microsoft releases Exchange 12, which will include a UM component.

“Users will benefit because they will no longer require a proprietary unified messaging server that has limited interoperability with voice servers but can support a mixed telephony environment of both IP and [time-division multiplexing] systems,” says Elizabeth Herrell, an analyst at Forrester Research, in a January report titled “Unified Messaging Is On the Rebound.”

“Unified messaging is really an old architecture. It has been around since the mid-’90s. There is a shift happening, because Microsoft is getting into the business. Still, you can’t really say that things will change overnight,” adds Herrell.

Also changing the UM landscape, though also not overnight, is the introduction of stand-alone appliances that pull voice into a single stream of data on a message server, says Herrell, who cites systems from Adomo Inc. as an example.

Adomo offers voice messaging appliances that support 500, 1,000 or 2,000 users and can be stacked and clustered alongside private branch exchanges to convert voice streams into text-based Exchange data, according to a company representative.

IT executives at SI International Inc., a large government contractor in Reston, Va., plan to use Adomo appliances to help outfit a new office campus in Colorado Springs, Colo., says CIO Steve Hunt. Specifically, the company will interface Adomo’s voice mail appliance with an existing PBX from Nortel and a local Microsoft Exchange server.

Like officials at many enterprises, SI International executives describe the company’s UM foray as serendipitous. “We did not create a unified messaging goal or objective. Instead, this strategy is being driven by more immediate and practical decisions,” says Hunt. “But our users love the ability to control the forwarding of their calls and the advantage of forwarding voice messages to their Microsoft Office mailbox.”

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