Should you Pay a Hosting Company to Host Microsoft Lync?

By Lisa Gecko

Lync 2010 is Microsoft’s latest instant messaging, presence, and collaboration suite for PC, smart phone, and Internet. It creates a real-world communications experience over a network with streaming high-resolution video and audio. This article will focus on the benefits of having a hosting company run and support Lync in a cloud based virtual network. Why pay a hosting company for Lync when you could purchase, install, and run it yourself?

First off, Lync has a hefty set of hardware system requirements. Businesses that already outsource their networking needs are not likely to have a system that is capable of running Lync without significant investment and upgrades. And those with in-house networks are not likely to have a Lync compatible platform either. Recommended server requirements to run Lync include a 64-bit dual or quad processor, quad-core, 2.0 GHz or higher (Intel Itanium processors are not supported for Lync Server 2010), at least 16 GB of memory, and local storage with at least 72 GB free disk space on a 10,000 RPM disk drive. In addition, at least 1 network adapter is required (2 recommended), each 1 Gbps or higher. A cloud hosting company can meet these hardware requirements with a much lower monthly service fee.

Software requirements are also significant. Lync 2010 is available only in 64-bit, which requires 64-bit hardware and 64-bit editions of Windows Server. Lync is not available in a 32-bit version. Computers running Lync Server administrative tools must run a 64-bit edition Windows 7 or Vista operating system. Database management systems for the back-end database, the Archiving database, and the Monitoring database require a 64-bit edition of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as well. Additional software requirements include Windows PowerShell 2.0 and .NET Framework 3.5 with SP1.

Lync requires a specialized technical staff to install, backup, and maintain it. An IT staff with the skills and experience to run Lync is going to be expensive. A cloud hosting company can provide this specialized support without the overhead. Select cloud hosts also offer a 100% up time guarantee, with a 24-hour support staff running redundant clusters and multiple connections, with full-data backup in case of a system crash. And if your company already has an active directory, a cloud host staff can integrate it with Lync for a seamless transition.

Another benefit of having a hosting company run Lync is scalability. Your Lync network can grow with your company without expensive hardware and software purchases and upgrades. And at any time, if you need to scale back, you can. Security issues associated with network based communications are covered as well. Physical and virtual firewalls, anti-virus, and secured connections are included as part of most cloud hosting network services.

To put it simply, a cloud host can save you significant time and money. A host would make expensive hardware and software purchases and upgrades unnecessary, and provide an IT support staff to run and maintain it all for a low monthly fee. Lync could infinitely scale with your business, and you could scale back at any time if needed. And finally, your network communications would be safe and secure with redundant physical and virtual security features.