Microsoft Partners Find Benefits in 'Dogfooding' Lync

It's hard enough to sell a product without having first-hand experience of it. That's even more evident when the product is Microsoft Lync. For some partners, adopting Lync for their own use has proven to be the best way to help their clients.

With a product as disruptive as Microsoft Lync, seeing and using are often the only way to believe.

"Selling the product is tough, almost impossible, unless you can do a live demo," says Ian Guyer, who runs his own consulting company. "People cannot relate when trying to describe it. I love to watch the look on customers' faces when they see it for the first time. They start with a puzzled look that slowly turns to amazement, that quickly turns to excitement."

With a product like that, the best way for partners to grasp the possibilities, as well as understand the internals, is to take advantage of the Microsoft Internal Use Rights (IUR) for Lync that are available through the Microsoft Partner Network.

Doug Kinzinger, a senior network engineer with MCS Office Technologies, says familiarity has been critical. "Find a good guide online, or start using a major product, such as Lync, during the beta phase. Accessing blogs and forums used by other beta testers is helpful when testing," he advises.

Guyer adds that the first implementation can be a battle, and one best fought inside a partner's own server room rather than in a customer's. "I recommend that anybody who's interested in UC set up a lab system they can destroy over and over again."

Ryan Risley, CTO of Brittenford Systems, says the 30-person Gold Certified Partner firm has been on OCS 2007 for two and a half years and recently moved to Lync. He recommends the product for other partners, even if they don't plan to sell Lync.

"The cultural aspects have been astounding," Risley says. "It's really helped us become even more tight-knit."

Brittenford uses Lync to bring new staff up to speed more quickly through the presence-aware contact lists and screen-sharing capabilities, to help the office manager route service calls immediately and to brainstorm through the shared whiteboarding capabilities.

Risley is finding one other benefit that every consultant can relate to: "Our old phone system was at headquarters, and we didn't have soft phones. If you called out from a client [to another client] and you used your cell phone, they would love to hang onto that cell phone number. Having a client have your cell phone is not always the best solution."

Fast forward to Brittenford's Lync-based, full-PBX replacement system, and that's one more artifact of the old way of doing business.

About the Authors

Doug Barney is editorial director of Redmond Channel Partner.

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.