Overview of Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging

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If your company uses Microsoft Exchange 2010, you should look into integrating Unified Messaging into the server application as well. Unified Messaging provides a voicemail service to your existing forms of communication through the Exchange server. It integrates text and voice inputs in an easy-to-check format and there is multiple-language support available.

In this overview I’ll outline the many features of Unified Messaging for you to look for when using this service. However, let’s first start by analyzing why it is worth using for your company and the advantages it offers over just the bare Microsoft Exchange 2010 application.

Benefits of Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging

As you probably know, Microsoft Exchange 2010 is integrated with Outlook. It allows each employer to connect to a server application and stay connected. Contact keeping and e-mail messaging are its trademark services. However, many companies also rely on voicemails to keep in touch with clients and for employees to communicate remotely. This is why Unified Messaging is such a powerful tool for any Exchange 2010 user. If you want to integrate voicemail and e-mail messages into a format that is easy to navigate, then you need to integrate Unified Messaging into your company’s workflow.

According to Microsoft TechNet, “Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging (UM) combines voice messaging and e-mail messaging into a single messaging infrastructure.”

The service implementation involves users accessing voice messages either through mp3 files from their inboxes or through a text format (we will go more in-depth about these features below). Compatibility includes telephones, mobile phones, Macs and PCs. TechNet describes the implementation process:

“After Unified Messaging servers have been deployed on a network, users can access their messages using Outlook Voice Access, from any telephone, from a mobile phone, or from the computer.”

This is an optional service for anyone who owns the standard Exchange 2010 application with no additional up-front costs. Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging has a couple standout features, like conversions of voice to text inputs, as well as great security. It fuses voicemails and e-mail into a single format that allows easier access and record keeping.

Here are some aspects of Unified Messaging worth noting:

  • Voicemail and email messages consolidated into a universal inbox
  • Voicemail preview that allows you to read your voicemail messages
  • Customized greetings and call transfer options to reduce the likelihood of missing an important call
  • Removes the need to purchase or manage a separate voicemail system

Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging isn’t just based on voicemail management. It also features voicemail security, auto attendant features, and more flexibility over answering phone calls. Here is a list of features and functions that may help your business operate more efficiently if you decide to use this service.

Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging

Voicemail Preview

This voicemail preview function is what makes Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging really stand out and come highly recommended for enterprise users. This allows users to either listen to voicemails or read them in text format from their e-mail mailboxes. By reading some of the text of a voicemail, users can save time by not having to listen to every voicemail in order. They will also know exactly which voicemail to jump to because of search functions and descriptions present in the text. Using this feature, Exchange 2010 creates a text version of voicemail that is sent with an MP3 file to the user’s e-mail inbox.

Outlook Voice Access

Another one of UM’s features is called “Outlook Voice Access.” This feature is related to the Microsoft Outlook app and gives users control over their inboxes. It allows users to have “anywhere access” to their mailboxes even if they do not have an online connection present. This feature prevents the worry for employees not being able to manage their calendar, contacts and e-mail when disconnected or simply traveling to where an Internet connection may not be available. Voice commands or telephone keypads are both supported.

Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging - Outlook

Message Waiting Indicator

“Message Waiting Indicator” (MWI) is a feature worth noting that deals with new or unread voicemails. This feature provides users warning messages saying they have unread voicemails available. It should be quite handy for enterprise users who do not have time to check their voicemail periodically and do not want to miss important calls.

Protected Voicemail

This is a permission and security feature that gives administrative users greater control in regards to voicemail answering and forwarding. It uses a service called “Active Directory Rights Management Services.” This service allows Exchange to deny forward permissions to voice messages as designated either by the sender or administrative police. The sender can mark the message as private himself or allow the administrator to design certain privacy rules.

Auto Attendant

The “Unified Messaging Auto Attendant” feature deals with contact information gathering. Callers can find information about the person they are trying to reach with this feature. They can do this by either using the keypad or with speech inputs and voice recognition. Using either method, they can locate a specific user and call them. The Auto attendant feature also allows users to create custom menus for callers, define information greetings, define business hours greetings, and define standard greetings. Users can even set up holiday schedules and enable external users to call the operator. The auto attendant feature gives greater control to messaging, greetings, answering calls, and reaching clients.

Call Answering Rules

This feature allows users to be able to let clients and co-workers know how and when to reach them. Answering phone calls in order of importance is very important to many enterprise professions. Call answering rules allow users of Unified Messaging greater flexibility in answering or sending calls. These answering rules deal with custom greetings, Find-Me, call transfer options, and voicemail prompts. Various conditions can also apply to these rules that include caller IDs, time of day, and Exchange status (busy or free).

Play on Phone

This feature allows users to check voice messages over telephones, and not just when using computing devices. A great advantage of using a telephone function such as this is privacy. Users may want to listen to voicemails privately and over a phone rather than through their system. Every type of telephone and handset is supported regardless of location; this includes mobile and home phones as well.

Voicemail Form

This feature resembles the default e-mail form and gives users an interface for stopping voice messages, pausing voice messages, playing voice messages on a phone, as well as editing notes to voice messages. An embedded Windows Media Player and an audio notes field are included with this feature.

Conclusion

Many companies today manage their voice messaging and e-mail services separately. IT admins also have to deal with managing voicemail and e-mail as separate services with separate servers. By consolidating voicemail with e-mail services, servers are freed up to concentrate on other tasks — or less have to be hosted. Other advantages include less multitasking involved for admins and greater compatibility to hardware devices for end users (since they are unified in a system that is compatible across hardware). Compatibility to other devices that connect to the voicemail is also strong, as much so as separate voice messaging services.

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