One of the new features that Microsoft put in Lync 2010 is support of Analog phones through the use SIP ATAs (Analog Telephone Adaptors).  This was was done to make it a complete PBX replacement solution because most of the time you just can’t get away with not having analog phones – you just can’t replace your elevator emergency phone with a cx700.  Also, those pesky fax machines are still around.  This blog post gives the PowerShell commands to configure analog phones:

Now, unless they restrict this at RTM, this has opened Pandora’s box of allowing *any* standard SIP phone to work with Lync 2010, something you couldn’t do in OCS.  I’ve seen a number of different phones work just fine.

This has obvious pluses, but also minuses.  First, it’s not a replacement for end-user phone with integration to the Lync Client – it just gives the phone dial tone and doesn’t get associated to a user, if you want to do that you still need something like SmartSIP:

Or Audiocodes SPS:

The persistence of NET and Audiocodes (or big customers) paid off for snom as well, their SIP phones finally got blessed by Microsoft:

Now, even with this in mind it’s still a big step forward.   It’s useful for common area and emergency phones.  In OCS 2007 R2, we had to use tricks to get this to work – having the phones register to a gateway connected to the PBX and mediation server, for example.  That’s painful, because you had to manipulate the dial plan on the gateway and manage them separately. This way Lync takes care of normailzation and call control.

It’s yet to be seen if they will figure out a way to restrict any old standard SIP phone in RTM and just allow ATAs.

In any event, the choice of hard phones is increasing dramatically in Lync 2010, both in the blessed “phone edition” type phones and the availability of SmartSIP, SPS, and snom.

Thomas Kisner, MCITP