A couple of days after I wrote Microsoftâ€™s Unified Communications â€œStrategyâ€, I got a nice note from Kyle Marsh, unified communications evangelist. He gave some additional details about the products, as well as correcting a mistake I made. I understood that Exchange would be renamed Microsoft Communcations Server, which in fact is not the case. He also invited us to participate in a developer lab in Redmond at the end of the month.
I found his discussion of the use of the Subject field quite interesting. Weâ€™ve been fans of using extended SIP attributes as inputs to the iotum Relevance Engine for some time. Itâ€™s great to see this happening.
Thanks for the email Kyle. (reprintedÂ below, with permission,Â for those interested in knowing more).
From: Kyle Marsh [mailto:Kyle.Marsh@microsoft.com] Sent: June-28-06 2:30 PMTo: Alec SaundersSubject: Microsoft Unified Communications
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Been quite a while since we touched based. I have two reasons for emailing. First I am having a developer lab for our next wave of product releases July 24-27 here in Redmond. Would iotum be interested in attending? It is a API level lab.Â We have some interesting new features that could make integrating iotum and our unified communications more interesting. For example, when someone sees an email they may want to respond with an IM or voice or video conversation instead. In Outlook they would select â€œCallâ€™ and the subject or the email would be sent as part of the invite so that the user being called could see the callâ€™s subject before accepting the call. Other applications could start communications the same way. I think that a callâ€™s subject would help iotum determine the callâ€™s relevance.Â We expect that in the 2007 timeframe all requests for communications, regardless of them media type IM, voice, video, email, etc., will start taking advantage of this ability.
Second I noticed something on your blog I thought I should update you on. We are not renaming Exchange to Communications Server. These will continue to be two products. As we move forward they will start to take advantage of each otherâ€™s features more. For example in 2007 if you start a voice conversation with another user from Communicator (or any device) you may end up leaving voice mail in Exchangeâ€™s unified messaging. Today your PC-PC voice call would just not get answered. You may be underestimating what we are doing and scale of our commitment in this space.Â The most concise description of what we are doing is in the BillG exec mail:
The arrival of unified communications signals the beginning of the convergence of VoIP telephony (which provides the ability to route telephone calls through the Internet), email, instant messaging, mobile communications, and audio and video Web conferencing into a single platform that shares a common directory and common developer tools.
So iotum and Microsoft decide to federate, or let their infrastructures automatically federate. Now we can have each other on a contact list, or maybe just have each otherâ€™s names in a Word document. If we need toÂ communicate it is just a click away. Each participant can decided what form the communication can take IM, voice, video, conference, etc. Maybe we use our PCs, or phones, or even mobile devices.Â We call each other, not each otherâ€™s devices. Perhaps iotum could not just decide if I should take the communication, but what mode I could allow. If I am in my office I could take a voice call with you on my desk phone, but in a meeting, depending on what my role in the meeting is, perhaps I could do an IM from a PC or mobile device.Â I could classify you to receive different amounts of presence information about me then other people see. My team member could be allowed to see my location, or maybe the subject of the email I am working on right now, or the identity of who I am currently communicating with (trading floors need that actually) while you as a federated contact may see simply â€œBusyâ€.Â iotum could start adding information to my presence that would help an iotum at the other end make a better judgment about the relevance of a communications request.Â At the platform level we are enabling a lot of cool scenarios.
Anyway, enough rambling on my part. Let me know if you would like to participant in the developer lab.Â I see you are making lots of announcements lately and wining lots of awards. Congratulations. It is great to see good ideas succeed.