BT Offers Lync Pilot


On NoJitter, I recently attempted to explain Lync licensing (Lync Licensing: Effective Confusion). I recently completed a 40+ page report “summarizing” Lync licensing for a major research and analyst firm. The bottom line is Lync licensing is complex, but partially included in most volume licensing agreements. This is putting pressure on CIOs to evaluate Lync – compelling pressure known as a fiduciary responsibility.  That post ended with rise of the the Lync Pilot:

UC is moving away from the speeds and feeds to the user experience, thus the pilot is becoming critical. Pilots are new in telecom–in the good ol’ days, customers bought systems sight unseen. Thanks to software based systems and shared cable plant, now the notion of a pilot is viable and practical. This puts hardware-based vendors at a disadvantage and gives a slight benefit to vendors that virtualize their offerings. The emerging enterprise UC battle will be the fight for the pilot.

Not only is Lync licensing complex, but Lync itself is complex. How many servers, what roles on each server, SBAs, gateways, integration with SharePoint and Exchange, HA… – it isn’t trivial to just pilot the solution. The purpose of the pilot is to understand everything from operational aspects to user acceptance and disaster recovery – a pilot takes some effort to plan, test, and accept.

This week, BT launched a new Lync pilot program aimed to make it easier. Presumably BT is aware of Lync interest, and aware of a Lync threat to TDM circuits – so its adapting its carrier model to one of professional services. And, since BT is an actual carrier, they can offer a full Lync experience (unlike Microsoft’s Lync Online offering which doesn’t offer PSTN services).

BT’s Pilot runs about $15k – and includes 90 days of IM, presence, conferencing (audio, video, and web), and voice services for up to 250 users. They provide the licensing. After the pilot, BT hopes you will allow them to continue to host the service and ideally transfer the licensing under a service provider model, or have them implement it on premises. Customers are free to walk away as well. For organizations that require the benefits associated with a local SBA – BT has relationships with both Audiocodes and NET. The pilot offering is available nationally in the US – with expansion planned.

Remember, Lync does not have to replace the PBX and according to BT, it often doesn’t. BT can interop Lync with several phone systems.

Dave Michels