From the Enterprise VoIP Experts

December 05, 2012

Sangoma Lync Express Simplifies Microsoft Lync for SMBs

By Analyst, Business VoIP

Sangoma is offering a new product called Lync Express that is making it easier for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) to take advantage of Microsoft Lync as a complete unified communications and business phone system.  Sangoma’s Lync Express hosts all of the core Microsoft Lync components, plus a Sangoma VoIP gateway for telephony support, on a single 1U rack-mounted server that is simple to install and manage. For a smaller business, the all-in-one Sangoma and Microsoft solution is a winning combination as it simplifies the deployment of Lync with telephony for SMBs.

Analysts agree that Microsoft Lync is gaining in popularity as a phone system (PBX) replacement. A Nemertes Benchmark Study reveals that Lync deployments are moving from “pilot to production” with 11.2 percent of the 2012 study participants now deploying or planning to deploy Lync as their IP-PBX; this is double the percentage in 2011. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications has also seen growth in Lync deployments in 2012, as Microsoft continues to improve and evolve the offering which has been popular for instant messaging, presence and multi-media conferencing, but now supports voice features that make it a viable alternative to a traditional business phone system.

The Lync Express Bundle

Sangoma, in conversations with Microsoft, saw an opportunity to simplify the deployment of Microsoft Lync for smaller businesses (25-200 endpoints) that may not have the technical expertise or IT knowledge to install the Microsoft product suite. Generally, a Lync deployment involves multiple servers (a server pool), a complex implementation that typically requires Microsoft certified personnel to deploy and manage. Since Lync has no native telephony support, a VoIP gateway must also be connected for users to make and receive external public telephone network (PSTN) calls. This is where Sangoma comes in. Sangoma has a long history of delivering high-quality telephony interface boards for server-based VoIP solutions. These boards install in any expansion slot of a standard computer server to provide the T1/E1, ISDN PRI or BRI and/or analog trunk connections to the PSTN and to integrate analog phone and fax devices (SIP trunking interfaces are planned for the next release).

To be specific, Lync Express bundles the components of Microsoft Lync 2010 Standard Edition which hosts all server components and database storage on a single computer (suitable for small businesses); this includes the Lync Server, Mediation Server, Chat Server, Audio/Video Conference Server and Microsoft Windows 2008 Server Operating System. A Sangoma NetBorder Express VoIP gateway is also installed, creating an all-in-one Lync server appliance with a built-in VoIP gateway for PSTN connectivity. 

Currently, Sangoma offers four Lync Express models. Each includes all the necessary Microsoft Lync components and software and one of four Sangoma telephony boards, as follows:

(1) Two T1/E1/PRI and four analog FXS ports (200-240 users)

(2) A single T1/E1/PRI and four analog FXS ports (100-120 users)

(3) Six analog FXO lines and two analog FXS ports (50 users)

(4) Four BRI and two analog FXS ports (suitable for European deployments; 50 users)

Sangoma can easily create additional configurations per demand, including a SIP trunk interface, which is already planned for the next release.

Target Markets

Sangoma has identified three primary target markets for Lync Express and continues to develop new versions per customer and reseller feedback. First, the company sees significant demand for Lync Express as a telephony solution for existing Microsoft Office 365 customers. These customers are already taking advantage of Microsoft’s Office 365 online subscription service for Microsoft’s messaging and collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online and Microsoft Office Professional Plus, but also need local connectivity to the PSTN for E911, fax and to make/receive external phone calls. Lync Express is a perfect fit since it easily integrates into the customer’s existing Microsoft environment.

Sangoma also sees good traction for Lync Express in branch offices connected via a Wide Area Network (WAN) to a Microsoft Lync server pool deployed in a company’s main headquarters location. Lync Express not only enables survivability for these branches should there be a WAN failure, but also provides continuous services since Lync Express operates as a full standalone system unlike typical survivable branch appliances that enables only basic calling during a WAN failure.

Finally, there are new opportunities for Lync Express to be sold as a standalone system. Businesses with 25-200 users can deploy Lync Express as their business phone system, a complete unified communications solution with telephony support. Sangoma’s own marketing department is actually piloting Lync Express internally right now and will be able to provide a first-hand testimonial to the simplicity and business productivity gains that result.

Availability: Sangoma Lync Express is generally available worldwide as of July 2012. The product is Microsoft-certified and sold globally by Sangoma or Microsoft Gold Partners, along with the necessary Microsoft licenses, the Standard Client Access License (CAL), Enterprise CAL or Plus CAL (this license is required for Microsoft Lync Enterprise Voice features).

Sangoma is a Gold sponsor of ITEXPO Miami 2013, taking place Jan. 29- Feb 1, in Miami, Florida. Visit Sangoma in booth #501. For more information on ITEXPO Miami 2013, click here.

Edited by Brooke Neuman