Microsoft recently announced that they are discontinuing the Response Point small-business VoIP system.
They decided that while demand was encouraging, it wasn't enough to sustain Response Point as a standalone business. The Response Point Team suggests Microsoft OCS as an alternative.
This announcement was written about on several other websites, including ZDNet. Commenters on these posts had basically two things to say:
1. Response Point was a nice solution and they're sad to see it go.
2. A full OCS VoIP system is overkill for small businesses.
Is it? That's a question worth exploring. Does OCS actually work as a VoIP phone system for the small business market?
Frankly? Yes, it does. Very well in fact.
Hosted OCS Has an Easier Small-Business Setup
The key to this is in what kind of infrastructure a small business uses. In the past, there was pretty much one way to build an infrastructure – install servers in-house, wire a network and set up the workstations to use its capabilities.
Now with cheap broadband and hosted/cloud-based IT services gaining popularity, we have a viable middle-ground. One where up-front cost is low and competitors can offer more affordable pricing structures.
Microsoft said that Response Point didn't have high enough demand as a standalone business. Maybe an in-house OCS system might seem like overkill. But nobody said a hosted OCS solution wouldn't fit the small-business bill in Response Point's place.
Voice Over IP In the Coming Years
Response Point was a VoIP replacement for a small business PBX. Technologically, this can be done in OCS 2007 as well. OCS 2007 just needs phones.
Any good OCS partner worth their salt should have a VoIP option available. Suited for small business needs and budget.
With all that said, we can give a couple responses to the main question.
- VoIP options are growing all the time. Certainly small-business options will grow as well.
- With OCS 2007 R2 out for a couple years now, manufacturers have been creating more VoIP phone systems.
- There will be more VoIP emphasis in OCS 2010. This has been known for a while now.
- A small business communications system using OCS does work. Here are two examples, one using VoIP and one not:
- WITH VOIP
- Hosted OCS 2007 R2 for Instant Messaging, Conferencing and Voice over IP
- VoIP Phones
- WITHOUT VOIP
- Hosted OCS 2007 R2 for Instant Messaging and conferencing
- Cellphones for Voice
Were I to speculate on this,I'd say Microsoft folded some of its Response Point team into OCS 2010 development. I fully expect OCS 2010 to have full VoIP capability and then some. At a level small businesses can use easily.