Microsoft’s UC solution is based on Exchange Server, OCS and Active Directory. Microsoft has strategic partnerships with Aspect and HP, along with a large and growing set of partnerships for gateways, survivable branch appliances, IP phones, audioconferencing service providers and SIP trunking, along with major system integrators and channel partners. OCS also integrates with collaboration and business applications like SharePoint. The same OCS and Exchange application is also used for Microsoft’s online collaboration suite, Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS).
- Microsoft OCS 2010 R2 has seen year-over-year increased adoption for voice and audioconferencing, and now states that it has 100-plus deployments of over 2,000 telephony users. The next release of OCS, Microsoft Communication Server “14,” scheduled for this calendar year, will add several critical telephony functions.
- Exchange UM continues to gain acceptance and maturity in the market. Deployments have expanded beyond smaller (fewer than 2,000 subscribers) into the midsize (2,000 to 5,000 subscribers), with a few deployments in the very large (10,000-plus subscribers) market. In Exchange Server 2010, calendar access is integrated with the UM telephone interface, as is text-to-speech rendering of audio messages.
- Microsoft’s historic strength in collaboration and desktops, combined with promising, emerging real-time communications, results in significant potential. Emerging areas include increased visibility of SIP trunks from carriers and from IP-PBX providers, significant new end-to-end UC solution providers, such as HP, and increased presence in contact centers.
- Enterprises looking into UC, particularly those with Microsoft applications already in place, should understand Microsoft’s broad UCC paradigm. When considering telephony specifically, OCS can be deployed in different configurations, depending on enterprise directions and requirements. It can be deployed with a PBX so that both are in parallel use for telephony, or it can be deployed to perform nontelephony functions, leaving telephony to the IP-PBX. As OCS matures in 2011, OCS may be able to perform complete stand-alone telephony services.
- The telephony functionality in OCS 2007 R2 remains in the early stage, and OCS has not yet been proved as a complete telephony displacement. Enterprise planners should understand that OCS 2007 R2 has limitations, and should carefully evaluate some critical newer features in the forthcoming version of OCS, such as call admission control and E911.
- Microsoft’s OCS audioconferencing and videoconferencing product set has expanded its interoperability and endpoint support abilities this year, but these functions remain new and have not yet been proved in the market.
- Many OCS communication functions, such as telephony, video and public switched telephone network (PSTN) integration, require solution integrators and employees with different skills than many firms presently have. Planners should ensure that their providers and internal staff have relevant experience in key areas.
- Currently, OCS offers an attractive initial price point for bundled communications and collaboration; however, voice capabilities will be priced separately in subsequent releases. Although some users will be allowed grandfathered pricing, others may see the competitive price advantage of the OCS bundle disappear.
With the Jabber IM and presence now integrated into the 8.0 release, and video convergence plans clearer due to the Tandberg acquisition, Cisco is increasingly able to provide a complete UC portfolio, which goes broadly under the name of Cisco Unified Communication Manager. Key parts of the UC portfolio include, but are not limited to, Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unity Connection, Cisco Unified Presence, Cisco Unified Videoconferencing, Cisco Client Services Framework and a range of client and device options. Cisco has moved significant portions of its software to VMware, which should increase efficiencies and deployment flexibility, and lower overall cost. Additionally, Cisco offers a broad range of integrated, on-demand UC capabilities as part of the WebEx brand.
- Cisco offers a comprehensive portfolio, and is expanding integration and capabilities across its components, offering access to key products via public standards, such as SIP. Cisco also continues to expand its business application integration interface options and tools, as well as its intercompany collaboration options.
- Cisco’s client base and strong global channel, services and SI partners position it well with enterprise UC buying and decision-making groups, including IT and operations departments. The addition of Tandberg further established its global capabilities and visibility.
- Cisco has advanced its vision for integrating the WebEx service and Enterprise premise architectures via the Client Services Framework, and has expanded WebEx functionality (and has delivered significant new functionality with the 8.0 release).
- Evaluate Cisco UCC solutions when you have or plan to have Cisco for key voice and conferencing functions. However, ensure that any expected interoperability with other vendor products, as well as among your planned Cisco products, is available. Also ensure that your system integrator has experience with similar UC deployments.
- Cisco’s UC architecture can create interdependencies between network infrastructure components and communication application software. Although there are benefits to embedding application-layer functions in the network-layer infrastructure, these dependencies can restrict options.
- Cisco is initiating a blended, on-premises and on-demand service offering across its UC portfolio, starting with conferencing. This new architecture will leverage WebEx for the service portion, expand existing on-premises solutions and embed some functionality in gateways, routers and the Cisco Client Services Framework. While promising, this approach is not proved, and users should expect more detail and proof points, as needed.
- Enterprises hoping to integrate Cisco’s solutions with third-party UC environments and products, such as Microsoft Office Communications Server,(OCS), should consider using external system integrators experienced in these integrations. Additionally, some integrations, such as Cisco UC Integration for Microsoft Office Communicator (CUCIMOC) are new to market and must mature before achieving the desired level of reliability, a process made more difficult due to competitive positioning with Microsoft.
- Many organizations will find that Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing (CUWL) increases the cost of ownership, especially for firms that have yet to define a road map for UC and a partner strategy, and that have developed user profiles to identify the value of each package. The addition of Entry Edition extends the choice for CUWL, but organizations should insist that channel partners provide proposals for a-la-carte licensing to make a direct comparison of cost of ownership.
On 18 December 2009, Avaya completed its acquisition of Nortel’s Enterprise Solutions (NES) business, and has rapidly defined a new management and operational structure, as well as product road maps for how the company plans to normalize the massive combined product and service portfolios. The acquisition brings with it Nortel’s Agile Communication Environment (ACE) SIP-based platform, which positions Avaya to add software solutions to its flagship Avaya Aura platform.
- UM is supported with the Modular Messaging platform, and Avaya Aura Conferencing supports videoconferencing and audioconferencing. Avaya also offers a market-leading enterprise contact center portfolio, a range of Avaya one-X software-based client options and CEBP, as supported by the Avaya ACE offering.
- The Avaya Aura Session Manager component, combined with its Session Boarder Controller (SBC) option, provides a migration path toward a secure, end-to-end SIP environment.
- Avaya’s product directions and end-user migration options include movement toward a virtualized infrastructure, which should result in a cost-effective deployment of UC applications, as well as reduced operational complexity. The partner ecosystem includes Avaya’s DevConnect developer program, and the combined Nortel and Avaya channels, which continue to mature.
- Consider Avaya’s solutions when your UC plans include telephony, messaging, conferencing or CEBP requirements. Existing clients should ensure that their plans match the company’s product direction.
- Avaya’s ability to rapidly restructure itself has eased uncertainty around the new combined company. However, Avaya products, organization and partners are going through a period of rapid change, accompanied by the need to keep up with many new offers and business processes. Additionally, the complex portfolio, while varied and deep, is not easy to understand. As a result, planners should ensure that their required functionality is available and mature, and that they understand longer-term product directions.
- The Avaya UC portfolio has areas of weakness. For example, Web conferencing capabilities are more limited than audioconferencing, Avaya Aura Presence Services solutions are new and have seen limited deployment; despite a broad set of integrations with Microsoft, Avaya has not clearly communicated or promoted the interoperability options with Microsoft collaboration products.
- While Avaya has moved quickly to combine Avaya and Nortel distribution and system integration (SI) partnerships, some clients report strong support, while others report lack of responsiveness and clarity. Users should ensure that they have the right partner, and that the partner has the necessary skills and commitment.
Gartner UC Magic Quadrant updated for 2010. Microsoft maintains lead with Cisco in a close 2nd place with Avaya in 3rd.
From NoJitter: http://www.nojitter.com/article/226700193
* Microsoft maintains the lead, with the highest ranking for both Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision compared to all 14 companies rated in the 2010 UCMQ. Gartner emphasizes the growing adoption of Microsoft Office Communications Server (numbers of companies and size of deployments) and the “significant potential” of combining real-time communications with Microsoft’s “historic strength in collaboration and desktops.”
* Cisco advanced from 2009 in both dimensions, based both on the acquisition of Tandberg, which makes their “video convergence plans clearer” and the addition of Jabber IM. Gartner emphasizes the “expanding integration and capabilities across its components”, the strong global Cisco channels, and the “vision for integrating the WebEx service and Enterprise premise architectures.”
* Avaya rounds out the leaders quadrant, also advancing in both dimensions, based on the addition of the Nortel Agile Communications Environment (ACE) software and on Avaya’s “rapidly defined…new management and operational structure, as well as product roadmaps.” Gartner emphasizes the completeness of the Avaya portfolio as well as the “migration path toward a secure, end-to-end SIP environment” with the Aura Session Manager and the Session Border Controller option.
Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, and IBM each moved out of the leaders quadrant. The common theme in each case was a limitation to the scope of adoption or the scope of the development and delivery capabilities for the company’s UC portfolio. All three remain viable UC market participants and Gartner recommends their consideration in the appropriate situations.
(2) The increasing completeness of the UC offerings is apparent in the review of each supplier. Essentially all of the 14 companies have a UC offering that includes the major elements of software-based clients, voice & telephony, messaging, and conferencing. Most also have presence and instant messaging and varying degrees of communications applications. Mobility is seen by Gartner as an element of the other six categories, not as a separate functional set.
As Gartner notes, each vendor “has at least one strength, for instance, in e-mail, telephony or networking” (or applications as with SAP) and seeks to expand that footprint in the enterprise. The richness of each functional category varies on that basis. This reflects the three primary migration paths to Unified Communications that UniComm Consulting highlights at VoiceCon (Enterprise Connect) and InterOp. A description and video of the May 2010 InterOp session “Choosing a Vendor and Implementing Unified Communications” is posted at UCStrategies.com.
(3) The evolution of the UC market reflected in the Gartner report is also very interesting. First, the hidden message is that communications is changing dramatically in the enterprise. Note that two of the three leaders are not traditional voice telephony companies. This symbolizes the vendors’ beliefs that major revenue growth is possible both by displacing per-UC communications platforms and by expanding the role of (UC) technology to facilitate communications tasks. Gartner’s opening paragraph says this quite clearly:
Unified communications offers the ability to improve how individuals, groups and companies interact and perform tasks. Enterprise planners and managers should review how this emerging generation of communications software and systems can improve their business operations and processes.
Again, Gartner reinforces the UC definition we use at UCStrategies.com and UniComm Consulting of, “communications integrated to optimize business processes.”Also, note the transformations that have occurred with a) NEC rising nearly into the leadership category with their addition of the software-based, application-friendly Univerge Sphericall platform; b) Siemens advancing their OpenScape UC Server, including linkages into social networks and the prototype of a cloud-based solution; and c) with Interactive Intelligence leveraging their multi-functional software platform to deliver business process automation capabilities.Finally, there may be a tendency to focus on the low penetration rates noted by Gartner. Eric Krapf, our NoJitter.com editor, pointed this out in his blog yesterday. However, it will be a mistake to think that attention to UC can wait until later or that UC-driven market transformations won’t happen.Earlier in the UCMQ report, Gartner says, “Many leading enterprises are developing UC road maps and plans, and some have trial or phased deployments under way.” Since UC is all about application integration, the market is being defined by these UC road maps and trials or phased deployments. With the success of these deployments (which is documented in over 800 UC case studies by 2009), the future purchase decisions are already taking shape, as these pilots become the enterprise deployment models.Certainly, too, organization evolution is required, but that’s happening. Our UniComm Consulting white paper on Organizational Concepts for Unified Communications has been echoed by a Gartner report on the topic. This is the evolution that was suggested throughout IP Telephony market development, but was, most often, avoided. It’s here now, and CIOs and IT Directors are incorporating telecom into their structures as part to the road maps, trials and deployments.Finally, don’t believe for a moment that the “business case frequently is based on a soft ROI or a strategic investment.” This is just not true, per the cases studies mentioned above. Perhaps those vendors whose UC business are not growing are telling Gartner that soft ROI is the reason, but the facts are otherwise. The apparently fastest growing UC vendor in this UCMQ, Microsoft, who also happens to be the quadrant leader, has been driving the hard dollar cost savings and top-line or bottom-line growth messages very successfully, as noted in the white paper, “Achieving Cost and Resource Savings with Unified Communications.” Believe that UC is a soft-dollar proposition at your own risk.This is the seventh year of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, telling the progressive story of the evolution of the enterprise communications industry (not just UC). It’s a great story–enjoy the read.