I have spent a lot of time talking about Unified Communications presence in this blog. Recently, I have been looking at the interoperability between Cisco and Microsoft deployments. At a high level, there is interoperability between the two platforms, with more to come for sure.
Cisco’s Unified Personal Communicator has the following presence states: Available, Away, Do not disturb, Idle, On the phone, In a meeting, Invisible (appear offline), Offline, and Blocked. Microsoft Lync has a similar set: Available, Busy, In a meeting, Do not disturb, Urgent interruptions only, Away, Inactive, Busy (inactive), Offline, Blocked, and Unknown.
At first glance, one would think that any similarly-named field would be mapped to its counterpart if a gateway was established between systems from the two different vendors. However, by default, most of the field mapping reverts to “Busy,” “Available,” and “Offline” when systems are interconnected. For example, the “Do not disturb” field appears as “Busy” or “Away” on the other vendor’s system. This same approach is used for the “In a meeting” status as well.
No doubt, software updates will someday fix this gap in interoperability, as the presence concept is starting to become more critical to the concept of UC. Kolabora.com observed a while ago that “The concept of presence has matured in recent years to move away from the simple notion of 'online/offline/away', towards a rich blend of attributes that can be used to characterize an individual's physical and/or spatial location, work trajectory, time frame of reference, mood, goals, and even intentions!” I agree.
In the future, presence services will not merely track singular presence variables, but rather a set of presence continua. In other words, while a status update merely shares what task you are working on now, a status continuum will track what tasks you were previously working on, what task you are currrently working on, and what tasks you will soon work on. I expect that the number of continua will be extensible, and I will extend on that thought in a future post.