Executive Summary

Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) is a server-based software product that provides organizations with a rich set of integrated Enterprise communications technologies in a single platform.

The key features of OCS are:

  • Enterprise Instant Messaging and Presence.
  • Desktop Audio and Video Conferencing (peer-to-peer and multi-party).
  • Web Conferencing, Desktop Sharing and Application Sharing.
  • Enterprise Voice capabilities (similar to PBX functionality).
  • Dial-In (PSTN) Audio Conferencing.
  • Group Chat (also known as Persistent Chat).

All of the features supported by OCS are available:

  • Within an organization (on the corporate network).
  • Between organizations (using a mechanism called "Federation").
  • To corporate users connected to the Public Internet.
  • To external users who have been invited by corporate users.
  • Some features are available to users with standard phone lines or mobile phones via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
  • Some features are available via a web browser with using Communicator Web Access.

OCS is based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard, which is defined in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comment (RFC) 3261. SIP is used as a signalling protocol for user registrations, exchanging IM and presence information, and for setting up multi-modal communications sessions between OCS users.

Key Benefits

This section describes the key business benefits of OCS.

Streamlined communications

Today, users face the challenge of managing their communications across many devices and applications. This can have a negative impact on productivity. OCS streamlines the way that users manage communications by providing the following tangible benefits:

Finding the right person at the right time

By integrating presence (availability) information with powerful directory search capability, users can find the right contact and quickly asses the contact's availability.  For example, if the contact is "on the phone", the user may choose to look for another contact that is available or she may choose to send an IM rather than initiate a phone call.

Operational flexibility and Control

Since OCS is built on the familliar Windows Server platform, it integrates seamlessly with existing management and operational processes.

For example:

  • OCS uses Active Directory as its user account database, for user policy and provisioning, and for user authentication. There is no need to manage a separate directory.
  • OCS ships with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) Management Packs for monitoring and alerting.
  • AD Group Policy Objects (GPO) are used for client provisioning and policy enforcement.

Also, by combining multiple communications modalities into a single platform, the communications tools can be managed as a single system. This removes the need for complex multi-vendor interoperability management.

Extensible Communications Platform

A major advantage of software-based communications platforms is that businesses can embed communications capabilities into new and existing line-of-business applications. OCS delivers an extensible platform with open application programming interfaces (API) that provide developers with a way to customize the user experience or embed the communications tools into existing applications and processes within the business. This is commonly referred to as "Communications Enabled Business Processes", or "CEBP".

Product Version History

The current version of OCS is OCS 2007 R2.  All versions of the product, their release year and feature enhancements are listed in the table below.

For complete list of new features in OCS 2007 R2, please refer to this article:  [object].

Release Date Version Name Key Features
2003 Live Communications Server 2003 Enterprise IM and presence server
2005 Live Communications Server 2005 Added Enterprise Edition topology
2006 Live Communications Server 2005 SP1 Added Federation, support for the Office Communicator client, Remote Call-Control
2007 Office Communications Server 2007 Added multi-party A/V conferencing, new pool topologies, Enterprise Voice
2009 Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Added significant Enterprise Voice enhancements, Response Groups, Group Chat
2010 Microsoft Lync Server 2010  (Product not yet released)

 

 

 

 

Client Software

This section describes the client software components that work with Office Communications Server. 

Native Microsoft Client Software

The following client software components are developed by Microsoft to provide a great end-user experience when using the capabilities of OCS.

Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2

The Office Communicator 2007 client is the principal client for IM and presence, desktop sharing, audio video conferencing, and Enterprise Voice (VoIP softphone capability. It provides a directory search function, and enables users to create a contact list of the people they communicate with most frequently.

Live Meeting Console

The Live Meeting console is the software application that enables users to participate in web conferencing sessions.  It includes the ability to upload PowerPoint slides, create whiteboards, and share applications or the desktop.  The Live Meeting Console is required when using the RoundTable conferencing device to display the RoundTable's panoramic video capture of the conference room.  

Group Chat Console

The group chat client is used in conjunction with the OCS Group Chat feature to enable users to particpate in persistent chat (chat room) sessions.

Office Communicator 2007 R2 Attendant Console

 Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Attendant is an intuitive, integrated call management application that facilitates accurate and rapid call handling and routing for front-line business professionals.

Conferencing Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook 

The conferencing add-in is the meeting scheduling client for Outlook. The add-in extends the familiar scheduling model in Outlook for Office Communications Server on-premise web conferences and conference calls.  Users schedule conferences in the same way they already schedule meetings and appointments.  The meeting URLs or audio conferencing details are automatically generated and added to the invite.

Office Communicator Mobile for Windows Mobile Phones

Office Communicator Mobile for Java Phones

Communicator Web Access

 

Server Topologies

UC Phone and Devices

References

Certified PBX/IP PBX systems for Enterprise Voice scenarios: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office/bb735838.aspx.