Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2012

Is that time of the year again when Gartner releases their yearly analysis of the Unified Communications vendors and their offerings called Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications. The vendors evaluated must meet certain criteria which is a product portfolio that supports

  • voice and telephony
  • conferencing
  • messaging
  • presence and IM
  • support for different client platforms
  • support communications-enabled Applications

It is a tradition to comment on the Gartner UC MQ’s here at the msunified.net, and I have done so since 2009. See the previous articles here:

The trend within Unified Communications (UC)

  • The UC market once again matured
    • Hybrid and cloud solutions got more focus
    • Mobility and cross-platform clients were introduced and matured
  • Prizing got more transparent and we saw some bundling IM and presence at low to none cost
  • Cross platform functionality is a clear trend that will get even stronger in the coming months

The Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2012

Analysis: What has happened since last year?

  1. Cisco is the new leader for the first time since 2005!
    • Re-branded their soft clients to Jabber
    • Offers significant portions of its sever side software on VMware
    • Have a broad conferencing offering spanning from TelePresence to soft clients on mobile Devices
  2. Microsoft is as close to Cisco as Cisco was to Microsoft last year
    • Both partner ecosystem and customer base continues to grow at a rapid pace
    • Microsoft will have a strong hybrid and cloud portfolio with the integration of Skype and Office 365
    • Those who has Exchange should strongly consider Lync, better Together
  3. Siemens Enterprise Communications have increased their ability to execute
    • The OpenScape platform is available to SMB, midmarket, enterprises as well as a cloud offering
    • Broad range of Clients
    • Focus on being open to key interoperability standards
  4. Avaya not as close to Cisco and Microsoft as last year
    • Avaya offers a broad set of server-side Components as well as a leading contact center solution
    • Expanding their portfolio with the acquisitions of Radvision and Persony

My thoughts on this

This is the first time since 2005 that there has been a change in leadership. Cisco has gone past Microsoft and that may be due to their rebranding of the soft clients to Jabber. It is interesting to see that mobility is one of the key directions UC solutions is heading from now on. Having a feature likeness cross-platform will be important in the future and supporting other trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Consumerization of IT. Microsoft released their mobility clients last december, but they not featuring VoIP or video conferencing may have cost them the lead in this years quadrant.

Last year we saw that the administration became more centralized than before. Personally I think that Cisco is still a complex UC solution, renaming their components to UC on the server side or Jabber on the client side does not automatically make it easier to manage or deploy. The Jabber portfolio is still a lot of different clients that have different features that are not consistently rolled out. I am guessing they are working on consolidating their ecosystem they are already a good challenger on the desktop where Microsoft have made their claim.

I think Microsoft has an advantage both on the server administration side and client side. On the server-side they utilize Windows PowerShell to configure and automate features. PowerShell is a skill that many IT-Pro’s are already working on or looking into and that in itself may be a deal breaker for a more complex Cisco administration. Lync Server 2013 will also have the ability with centralized logging, collecting logs from all involved components at one place. On the client side of things Microsoft Lync still is tightly integrated into Office with a unified contact card, and are designing their cross-platform clients from bottom up. The mobility clients are already sporting one of my favourite features that is one click join to telephony conference.

Lync Server 2013, that is now in a preview release, is addressing som of the main trends that UC is heading

  • Mobility – Mobile clients will have VoIP features and video conferencing. The clients will look and feel the same
  • Openness – Same experience across all platform including Windows, MAC, iOS, Android as well as full modality support from the web browser without installing any client software
  • Cloud – Lync Server 2013 will support a hybrid approach in combination with Office 365 with shared namespace and users homed in the cloud can Access features that are deployed on-premises like third party integrations and telephony
  • Interoperability – Was a big trend last year where Gartner recommended to mix vendors for best-of-breed functionality. Personally I think businesses needs to do the entire business case for doing this. Often when you mix vendors you need to have to systems with similar features, maintain them and pay for support and licenses. Often you need keep the solutions at the highest released software level to get all the interoperability features, and it may be pricy to upgrade the existing solution to an acceptable level. In the end you wont get all the features to work seamlessly across the platforms, you may miss out of presence and routing features. It may actually be a business case in deploying a single vendor even though the initial investment may seem high. You may then reap the full benefits of deploying a true unified platform

Working with Unified Communications is a complex, challenging and fun area and the coolest part is that we are able to change the way people connect and collaborate. I think the strong competition will benefit the end-user in the end.

References

View the full report here, courtesy of Microsoft: http://www.gartner.com/technology/reprints.do?id=1-1BUINJX&ct=120828&st=sb
Read a great article over at UC Strategies: http://www.ucstrategies.com/unified-communications-strategies-views/gartner-2012-uc-magic-quadrant-confirms-uc-market-and-leadership.aspx
See other market analyzes involving Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/itanalyst/default.aspx

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