The new Unified Messaging (UM) server role in Exchange Server 2007 extends the functionality of your Exchange messaging infrastructure, allowing it to transmit and store more than just traditional email. As more established communication solutions (voice and fax) find a new life on IP networks, a new means of storing and facilitating access to the information is required. The UM server role provides that capability natively in your Exchange 2007 organization. From a user's perspective, Unified Messaging provides easy access to voice messages, faxes, and email in way that was simply not possible before Unified Messaging.
Understanding Unified Messaging
Before you plan for and implement Unified Messaging, you will want to become familiar with the technologies you will be working with. Voice and fax technologies are traditionally analog technologies, whereas email has always been a digital technology. Because of the vast difference between the analog world and the digital world, the ability for the average organization to merge the technologies only came about circa 1997. The first environments to adopt technology to send digitally encoded voice communications were the telecom companies. This was done to improve the quality of voice communications across long distances (long hauls) and to reduce the cost of those connections.
Today, a number of commercial solutions provide digitally encoded voice communications. These technologies and associated protocols are generally referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. VoIP is allowing organizations to unify their communications infrastructures. Microsoft Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging does utilize VoIP. Unified Messaging is only part of an overall Unified Communications (UC) strategy. Although Unified Communications refers to the new digital forms of voice, fax, and more, a Unified Messaging solution is the storage and retrieval solution for the digitized voice, fax, and email messages. Email systems such as Exchange are attractive back-end solutions for centrally storing (unifying) all types of messages that a knowledge worker uses.
A Brief History of Unified Messaging
The introduction of Unified Messaging to Exchange could not have happened at a worse time. In 1999 Microsoft laid out their first strategy for supporting Unified Messaging on the soon-to-be-released Exchange 2000 Server, code-named Platinum. Vendors such as Lucent were lining up to take advantage of Microsoft's improvements to their storage system to handle the additional load of voice and fax data. Studies from analysts such as the Radicati Group showed that companies that used Unified Messaging technologies could regain up to 30 minutes a day in individual user productivity and save 70% in administrative costs by replacing the traditional voicemail and faxing solutions with the existing messaging infrastructure.
So why has it taken so many years for Unified Messaging to really start taking off? Well, in 2000 when Unified Messaging would have flourished, IT departments had to stand back and rethink the adoption of untested technologies due the burst of the dot-com bubble.
However, it is not entirely fair to blame this on the economy alone. There are other reasons as well, including the slow adoption of digital-based voice communications (VoIP) solutions due to cost and quality-of-service issues. The slow adoption of Unified Messaging has not hindered the development of communication technologies. UM has taken on new life in 2007 with the inclusion of support for Unified Communications and Unified Messaging in Microsoft Exchange 2007 and Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging for administrators
Home: Introduction to Unified Messaging on Exchange 2007
Part 1: An intro to voice systems for Exchange administrators
Part 2: Unified Messaging features in Exchange Server 2007
Part 3: Defining Exchange Unified Messaging architecture
Part 4: Deploying Unified Messaging servers on Exchange Server 2007
Part 5: Comparing VoIP PBX solutions for Unified Messaging
Part 6: Integrating Unified Messaging servers with a VoIP solution
Part 7: Creating a Unified Messaging Dial Plan
Part 8: Configuring a Unified Messaging IP gateway
Part 9: Mailbox policy configuration for Unified Messaging
Part 10: Creating and assigning a Unified Messaging hunt group
Part 11: Dialing rules and restrictions for Unified Messaging users
Part 12: Assigning Unified Messaging dialing rules to a mailbox policy
Part 13: Executing Unified Messaging grammar generation
Part 14: Enabling Unified Messaging mailboxes and users
|This chapter excerpt from Microsoft Exchange Server 2007: The Complete Reference, by Richard Luckett, William Lefkovics and Bharat Suneja, is printed with permission from McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, Copyright 2008.|