NextPlane has added support for Microsoft Office 365 to its UC Exchange service. So, companies wanting to collaborate with their business partners that have deployed Office 365, as well as Office 365 customers who want to collaborate with partners on other UC platforms, can now do so via the NextPlane UC Exchange.
This unified communications federation capability in the UC Exchange platform enables end users to engage their business associates across different partner organizations in real-time communication, using instant messaging and presence (IM&P), multi-party chat, voice, video calling and conferencing — as if they are on the same UC platform.
As a hosted UC service, Office 365 only natively allows direct federation with other Microsoft platforms, such as Lync 2010. This is enforced by requiring that the domain name of the edge/gateway server matches the domain name on the security certificate (which is issued by a certificate authority such as VeriSign). Otherwise, Office 365 refuses to establish an encrypted TLS connection — as a result the federation fails.
Because of this “walled garden” environment, Microsoft does not provide any federation options to Office 365 customers. This precludes Office 365 customers from collaborating with partners who are using platforms like Cisco WebEx Messenger, or OpenFire. Cisco Presence Server (CUPS) and IBM Sametime have support for federation with Lync 2013 via their own gateways, but require a bit of custom integration and administration to enable.
NextPlane aims to overcome these challenges. “Microsoft Office 365 is one of the fastest-growing UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) in the enterprise; we are now enabling the Office 365 customers to benefit from and/or join collaborative ecosystems that are forming across their industry segments,” said Farzin Shahidi, CEO of NextPlane. “Through the NextPlane UC Exchange service, we enable partner organizations to overcome the technical challenges of Office 365.”