A couple of weeks ago, Avaya/Radvision made an important statement about their intended future support for Lync Integration. Radvision, prior to being acquired by Avaya, was known for their strong support of multivendor video environments. Their MCU’s and gatekeepers have historically worked really well with all different types of video endpoints. They support all the major video manufacturers and all the standards. But then there’s Microsoft. Microsoft tends to have their own version of “open standards” that just aren’t compatible with anyone else. This usually doesn’t matter much as their product families offer so many cool interworking features that people tend to forget that they don’t always play well with others. Even though Lync 2013 Clients and Servers support the H.264 video codec, there are many other required protocols that are proprietary to Microsoft. Microsoft’s use of their own signaling, media encryption, and firewall traversal make it so many standards based H.323 and SIP video endpoints aren’t able to register to the Microsoft Lync environment. The opposite is also true. Lync clients typically aren’t able to join standards-based room video systems.
So, what are your options to integrate Microsoft Lync to these standards based video systems? You’ve actually got several options. Some are certainly better than others. Two of them are really more about trickery. In an Avaya environment, you can use the ACA Lync Plugin. This actually replaces the Lync voice/video capability with an Avaya voice/video capability, which is more standards based, allowing video calls to various Radvision and Polycom systems. So, it looks like Lync’s doing it, but it’s really not. Another way, which really isn’t really addressing the problem at all, is to simply have customized devices who’s guts are really just dedicated PC’s or tablets with embedded Lync Clients. it’s really just putting Lync clients on more devices that look like room systems. It isn’t adding support for multivendor interoperability. A third option is getting a little better. Some standards-based video endpoint manufacturers (specifically Lifesize and Polycom) are offering special new products with licensing add-ons that activate the additional Microsoft proprietary capabilities needed to register to Lync. This will probably be a painful solution for customers with a lot of existing video endpoints as they would all need to be replaced with these new endpoints and MCU’s.
Fortunately, there’s one more option this is a pretty great solution. It is to provide a Video Lync Gateway that can do the protocol conversations needed to communicate between Lync and existing standards based systems. Radvision’s “Scopia Video Gateway for Microsoft Lync” is the only video gateway certified by Microsoft (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/hh239758). Unlike Polycom’s newest RealPresence Collaboration Server (RMX MCU), that also does support integration with Lync, Radvision’s solution lets you add Lync integration without needing to replace your edge devices. The gateway ports aren’t dedicated to specific endpoints. They are shared, and allocated dynamically, to provide Lync interoperability to exiting standards-based endpoints as they’re needed. You simply buy and provision the quantity of ports needed for maximum concurrent connections.
There was concern that maybe Avaya would kill off that product, as to not make things easier for Microsoft to fit in with the rest of the world. Well, worry no more. Avaya just announced their commitment to the Scopia Video Gateway for Lync. In fact, they shared their roadmap plans to move the product forward. Right now, Radvision’s Video Gateway supports Lync 2010, Lync Online Dedicated, and Office Communication Server 2007. It should be noted that Polycom’s new RMX only supports Lync 2010. No one yet has full support for new features of Lync 2013. Avaya/Radvision say they intend to provide full Lync 2013 support by the end of 2013. In this same release they plan to increase capacity by 300%, provide full native H.264 support, as well as a unique server side integration to support easy video call escalation to Scopia Elite. These new capabilities will be supported on the existing hardware. It’ll just be a firmware upgrade, provided to eligible customers under an appropriate support agreement.
So, if you have Microsoft Lync and existing, standards based, room video endpoints and conferencing solutions, and the chances are actually really good that you do, you should talk to your Arrow SI sales representative about Radvision. You don’t even need to be an Avaya customer. This works for everyone!! Let Radvision help solve some of your most impactful Lync integration problems.