Monday, 15 July 2013

The Missing Lync - adventures in time travelling

Over the last three years I have spent my time putting in the biggest and sometimes quoted as best ( Microsoft) Lync deployment in the UK. A full enterprise voice deployment using Survivable Branch Appliances allowing 4228 users to break out onto the PSTN across 4 BT code areas from around 100 sites in the West of Scotland.

Having moved on from this project into another organisation I thought it might be good to detail my experience here over the last few weeks with regard to telephony.

Eating, breathing and living Lync for the last few years has made me blasé about how the majority of the workforce still conducts its business in the real world. The ability to call people when they are available, conduct ad-hoc voice and video conferences with no regard to booking rooms, gathering people etc. and even seeing if people are in their office before going to talk to them face to face becomes second nature and part of your workflow without you realising it. So, what is it like to step back in time to what feels like 1996?

First impressions are not good, there is a big and dark grey slab of plastic with a sickly green screen that you can actually count the pixels on with the naked eye. I keep expecting space invaders to appear from the side. Oh I should mention this is an IP telephone so my expectation were yay, it must integrate with the PC, eh ! No !

Oh well moving on, lets see what all these buttons do, that’s a point there are 30 buttons on this phone, let me say that again there are 30 buttons on this phone! And that’s the version with the least amount of buttons some have 44! As far as I can tell other than the dail pad and a couple of other usefull ones there are at tleast 14 redundant buttons with no discernible use.

It rings, flashback to ‘24’ the series, I feel like Jack Bauer is going to burst in any moment. No caller id just external number. At leas the call quality should be ok it’s IP on a modern network, good grief, whats on the other end? tin cans and string? It is dire, I’m used to looking round to check the person I’m talking to isn’t standing behind me when using Lync, the call quality is that good, this is worse than BT, this is like going back to the days of analogue mobile, I have to stick my finger in my free ear to isolate and concentrate hard to understand the caller.

Making a call, no click to call here, not even copy and paste, it is a whole procedure, find the number from the address book, forget about presence its going to be pot luck, dial the number on the phone, eh? No connection. Hang up start again try 9 this time, no connection, hang up, you plonker your dialing fingers have atrophied and become as useful as sausages. Do some finger limbering exercise dial the number, oops forgot it, read it, dial again, put the 9 in at the start, dial again it rings, eh sorry forgot what I was calling about. Ok I may be milking it a bit but honestly this is a major step back in usefulness and productivity.

Conferencing, oh my giddy aunt, I had a 2 page document emailed to me explaing how to set a conference call, my dial in and pin numbers and how to integrate a web element. Setup a call, dialled in as the moderator, put in my Pin and nothing, some joins signified by a single beep, and so on. It’s hard to manage, people just talk and then talk louder to get their point across, you don’t have any visual indicators of who is speaking, and the call quality is beyond abysmal. It is a mess and they get paid to host this?

I miss Lync, I miss my status lights, presence, really cool buttonless phones and headsets. I miss Lync on my mobile, I miss getting my voicemail delivered in my email. I miss the connected feeling when you look at peoples status and see where and what they’re up to. I miss having only one phone number, here I have 3! I miss the ability to connect with colleagues and federated partners with no notice, to share documents, slides, desktops while still talking and seeing each other in HD (voice and video).

I really miss Lync.

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