As TechEd 2010 in New Orleans unfolds this week, I’ll be updating this blog entry with the big announcements and significant developments with the next major release of OCS – code named Microsoft Communications Server (MCS) “14″. I’ll focus on new announcements (for previously released information on MCS “14″, see this blog entry: Microsoft Announces Microsoft Communications Server “14”).
- The live meeting conferencing functionality will be rolled into Communicator “14″. There will be one client, Communicator, for all media modalities and the associated features.
- There will be a new Silverlight-based web client available for those users wanting to joing a web conference, but don’t have the rich Communicator client installed. This is a new client and not a replacement for Communicator Web Access.
- When a user clicks to join a meeting from a link, it detects whether the Communicator client is installed. If it is not, you can join via the Silverlight client.
- Participation via the Silverlight client is anonymous (i.e there is no sign-in required). This is a powerfull feature that will make it a whole lot easier for external (to your organization) attendees join a meeting.
- MCS 14 will federate with Windows Live “Wave 4″ and will support Audio and Video with Windows Live Messenger contacts.
- All MCS 14 features were designed ground-up to work on-premise, cloud, or hybrid:
- both in terms of supporting a percentage of MCS users on-premise, in the cloud, and,
- in terms of having some or all Exchange & SharePoint services in the cloud
- Supported virtualization for all server roles in MCS 14 (with the normal audio and video caveats; i.e. you must closely follow the virtualization guidelines to support audio and video, and even then it could be more suceptible to jitter and latency)
- The MCS 14 will support a media bypass feature which will allow a consolidated MCS “14″ front-end server to go direct SIP to a supported IP-PBX’s without having to through a mediation server when the call is going to a locally dialed PSTN number.
- the Media by-pass, coupled with the branch office survivability will remove the need for Mediation servers in most local or branch sites (in most cases)
- Multiple SIP Gateways can be connected to one Mediation server.
- Communicator “14″ will support the G.711 codec and will be able to talk to certified MCS “14″ media Gateways to go out local PSTN access points.
- The visual Presence circle is changing to a square in Communicator “14″! :-)
Office Communicator “14″
- Many new features nicely summarized in this Microsoft Showcase video: What’s New in Microsoft Communicator “14″.
- A new Silverlight web-based management console (Communication Server Control Panel) that is built on a new set of Communications Server PowerShell cmdlets.
- Support for Role Based Access Control administration (similar to Exchange 2010)
- Support for cut-and-paste in the UI (i.e. easily copy Normalization Rules)
- Can easily see all the Policies (i.e. Voice, Conferencing, Client) for a particular user in one place
- A new Central Management Store (CMS)
- a central database the holds XML documents that describe your deployment
- all topology changes get written to the CMS, and a read-only copy is pushed to all servers in the topology
- the topology is pushed out via a file transfer agent and via HTTPS for the the Edge role
- New tools to help with certificates!
- New support for ’server maintenance’ – a server can be put into maintenance mode for O/S and hardware maintenance
- New PowerShell cmdlet’s
- Everything in the new UI can be done through PowerShell
- Cmdlets to manage users, configuration, devices, policies
- Support for synthetic transactions (test phone calls, sip registrations, simple conferencing)
- More support for role collocation. More roles, including the Mediation role and CWA, can be installed with the Front-End
- A new “Site” topology entity which can be used to represent a geographic boundary such as a center or branch location. A site contains one or more pools
- Similar roles as OCS 2007 R2 (i.e. a backend role that defines a pool, Edge Mediation, AV Conferencing, Archiving, Monitoring, Director, Group Chat)
- The Director role now streamlined and includes a local SQL Express database – removing the need for a separate back-end SQL database.
- The concept of Standard and Enterprise edition still exists
- Support for DNS load balancing within a pool
- New Topology Builder UI which helps you build your topology document
- Support for the virtualization of almost all roles
- Client virtualization support is similar to Communicator 2007 R2 (i.e. IM and application sharing but audio/video is not supported)
- Cannot virtualize the new branch office workload
- New SCOM 2007 R2 management pack:
- Support for synthetic transactions (monitor the user experience)
- Media quality alerts
- Call failure alerts
- Actionable alerts
- Monitoring role can be collocated with the front-end role
- The ability to ‘heal’ the audio of a particular end-point if the Monitoring role detects degradation in quality.
Office Communications Online
- Second-half of 2010:
- Peer-to-Peer Audio/Video and File Transfer across the firewall
- Communicator Mobile
- First-half of 2011:
- Federation and PIC
- IM Archiving
- Recording and Playback
- Application Sharing
- Unified Voicemail
- ACP Integration
- More information on the end-user experience in MCS 14, see Microsoft’s Communications Server “14″ web site.
- The new Microsoft Communications Server “14″ Powershell Page
- Jeff Schertz - Communications Server ‘14’ Full Disclosure write-up
- Next Hop’s write-up on Call Admission Control in Communications Server “14″
- Mary-Jo Foley’s writeup: Microsoft shares more details on its next version of its PBX alternative, OCS 14
- UCStrategies Microsoft’s Communication Server 14 at TechEd write-up
Stay tuned – much more to come.