Microsoft Details New 'Live Communications Server' Release
by Alex Woodie
Microsoft yesterday unveiled the next release of Instant Messaging server product, called Office Live Communications Server 2005, which will start shipping in a month. With this release, Microsoft says it has increased the security, scalability, and applicability of the product, which can now scale up to support hundreds of thousands of users, including people working in other organizations, or even those using non-Microsoft instant messaging clients.
Office Live Communications Server 2005 is an instant messaging and "presence awareness" software product that is the kicker to the original LCS 2003 product, an internal IM server that Microsoft says is used by millions of people every day. Microsoft says that the new LCS 2005 release will be available December 1, in Standard and Enterprise editions.
While older versions concentrated on internal use, openness is the most important new feature in LCS 2005. For the first time, people who use IM clients from AOL, Yahoo!, and even MSN will be able to communicate via their IM clients, provided LCS 2005 resides at the hub. However, this IM-interoperability won't be available until the first quarter of 2005, and it will cost some extra dough.
The newfound openness in LCS 2005 is largely a result of better encryption and authentication capabilities and scalability enhancements that Microsoft has made to the product. Users in two or more organizations will be able to share the IM and presence-awareness features of a single LCS 2005 installation. Similarly, users will be able to log on to IM when they're away from their office or primary workspace. Microsoft says that it can offer these new capabilities because its authentication mechanisms now work through standard firewall ports and don't require the establishment of a virtual private network. To support these extra users, Microsoft beefed up the software, which, the company claims, can now support 15,000 users on a single server running the Standard Edition.
Organizations that need to scale up to 100,000 users and beyond should look to the new Enterprise Edition of the LCS line. Microsoft says that the Enterprise Edition features an "advanced tiered architecture" built on its SQL Server database technology, which will also bring "deeper" management options and administrative controls.
Microsoft says that volume pricing for LCS 2005 Standard Edition starts at $750 per server, which includes five client access licenses. The Enterprise Edition starts at $3,000 per server and comes with 25 client access licenses.