The ‘too many cooks’ problem UCaaS users must avoid

In the second post in our series on unified communications as a service, we compare the pros and cons of Cisco vs. Microsoft technology

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Microsoft Lync Canada

An enterprise collaboration platform must be able to effectively and seamlessly accommodate all of the components of a truly unified communications experience – including both voice and video.

While Cisco offers a complete portfolio of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) capabilities, an enterprise deployment of Microsoft Lync as a collaboration platform requires technology partners for network switching and routing, voice gateways, branch office survivability, contact center applications and video and telephony endpoints.  According to research firm Gartner Inc., “while some Microsoft partners are starting to offer a comprehensive one-stop shop for all Lync-related equipment and services, these offers are still emerging. As a result, Gartner clients often report that multiple partners are required to obtain a complete deployment, which can be difficult (e.g., different partners for telephones, gateways, servers and video multiprotocol conferencing units [MCUs]). “

Clearly, greater complexity and risk can be involved in dealing with multiple, separate organizations for implementation, deployment, troubleshooting, and maintenance of such a “piece-parts” solution compared to dealing with a single vendor that has purposefully integrated its entire system. More importantly, the particular demands of implementing and supporting complex, real-time communications environments are likely still very new to traditional Microsoft solution provider partners.

In contrast, Cisco has been selling enterprise IP Telephony platforms since 1997 and is the global market share leader for this segment. According to Gartner, “Cisco has many certified dealers, system integrators, service providers and network outsourcers able to satisfy global and regional requirements for organizations of almost any size.”

Open Standards Compliance

Cisco’s open, standards-based architecture, meanwhile, supports integration of a broad range of third-party products and applications.  Cisco fully supports industry standards like Web RTC and SIP in all its product lines to help ensure that third-party applications, network and carrier trunking and third-party SIP phones can all be supported.   This approach to interoperability enables customers to be flexible in choosing the technology components that best suit their business requirements and to take maximum advantage of both existing investment and emerging technology trends.

In contrast, Microsoft’s approach is still heavily dependent on proprietary technology and protocols (e.g. RTV, RDP, RTA). According to Gartner again, some enterprises have expressed concerns that Microsoft’s bundling of closed applications like Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Office – combined with proprietary protocols for SIP – will allow fewer options for standards-based non-Microsoft solution integration in the future.

This “walled garden” infrastructure can result in several significant challenges for the enterprise with respect to Lync 2013:

  • Lync’s operation on Windows platforms as opposed to open, standards-based Linux platforms
  • Potential issues integrating to existing infrastructure/applications
  • Restrictions on supportable devices/endpoints limiting bring-your-own device (BYOD) capabilities
  • “Upgrade domino effect” – as an example, in order to get certain new features available in Lync 2013, Microsoft customers may be required to upgrade other elements of their Microsoft infrastructure including Exchange and SQL

In our next installment of this series we’ll explore how companies should be integrating UCaaS as part of a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy.
photo credit: Bruno Girin via photopin cc

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