Marc, a reader, asked a very timely question of me:

“My firm is planning on deploying Lync 2010 in about two months. Do you think it would be worth waiting for 2013? Or is the upgrade from 2010 to 2013 not that big a deal?”

Lync Server 2010 has been around for a couple years now. We’re in a transitory period right now – very soon, we’ll have an updated Lync Server on the market.

That means if your office isn’t running Lync Server yet, you have a choice.

A. Install Lync Server 2010 now.
OR
B. Wait for Lync Server 2013 to be released, and install it then.

We must take into account a couple of prime considerations here. The infrastructure requirements for both versions are fairly similar – at least according to current documentation, which lists the hardware requirements for running Lync Server 2010 here and running the Lync Server 2013 Preview here.

It really comes down to what type of Lync Server deployment you want, and the timing involved. So let’s consider those.

Consideration #1: On-Premises, Cloud-Based or Hybrid Deployment?

Lync Server 2013 has three deployment options.

On-Premises – All servers are placed in your network. The preferred deployment if you want to use Enterprise Voice, Call Admission Control, multi-national coverage or 3rd-party applications.
Online/Cloud-Based – All Lync services run in the cloud, using Office 365. Quick to set up and no hardware cost, but some services are not available (particularly Voice). I’ve mentioned the limitations of Lync Online before.
Hybrid Deployment – A combination of the above. Some users are on Office 365; others are based in your network. Useful for branch offices or a migration.

This is a little better flexibility than Lync Server 2010 originally had (mostly because Office 365 wasn’t around when it was introduced!). However, because Lync Online is now available, you could build a hybrid version of Lync Server 2010.

Recommendation:

If you’re planning on a hybrid deployment, there’s no reason not to install Lync Server 2010 now. The setup cost is lower than on-premises, though configuring both Lync Online and on-site Lync Server 2010 may pose some challenges.

Want to go cloud-based? Wait for Lync Server 2013. You’ll have the latest Lync version to work with, and the Online deployment option doesn’t require servers in-house.

If you want the full Lync feature set and plan to deploy on-premises, read Consideration #2 below. There’s a second factor to consider between installing Lync Server 2010 and waiting for Lync Server 2013 – hardware upgrades.

Consideration #2: Which server upgrades will you do first?

Do you already have the necessary hardware for Lync? Or will you need to upgrade before installing Lync Server?

Both systems require 64-bit servers. If you don’t have them now, you’ll need to install them.

Both versions have similar hardware requirements. At least the upgrade path is easier on the hardware side.

(Caveat: Lync 2013’s RTM may have higher requirements than its preview release.)

And there’s the matter of foundational server software. Lync Server 2010 runs on Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.

Lync Server 2013 will run on Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1. But it will also run on Windows Server 2012, due out between Q3 2012 and early 2013.

Likewise, Lync 2013 will run on SQL Server 2008 R2, but SQL Server 2012 is around the corner as well. All three of these server applications are due out at about the same time.

Recommendation:

I’d say wait for Lync Server 2013 if either of these is true:

  • You need to install 64-bit servers in preparation for Lync.
  • You’re planning to install Windows Server 2012 when it’s released.

Otherwise, if you already have the 64-bit hardware and you’re planning to stay with Windows Server 2008 for now, then go ahead with Lync Server 2010!

Planning a Lync Install? Tell Us About It!

In the future I’ll talk about upgrading from Lync Server2010 to Lync Server 2013. (We’re all wringing our hands in 2013 anticipation at the office!)

Is your organization debating which version of Lync Server to setup? Which factors are you concerned with? I’d love to hear them!

Should You Install Lync Server 2010 Now, or Wait for Lync Server 2013?
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