Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2013

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 blog, and have done so since 2009. See the previous articles here:

The trend within Unified Communications (UC)

  • The UC market matured even more and entered mainstream adoption phase
    • Hybrid and cloud are considered growing segments
    • Gartner is not impressed by interop between vendors in terms of rich federation
    • Big enterprises are afraid of committing to a single vendor and to be “locked” in to one standard
  • Mobility is a key differentiator and a requirement, was given extra weight in this years quadrant

The Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2013


Analysis: What has happened since last year?

  1. Cisco is leading this year as well, second year in a row
    • Added video to Jabber, melted Tandberg MOVI and the jabber client
    • Rebranded more of their portfolio to UC
    • Have a broad range of fixed and mobile client and device options
    • The on premises infrastructure can now be virtualized on UCS server and other qulified servers
  2. Microsoft is further behind Cisco this time around
    • Launched Lync 2013 sporting new mobile portfolio, web client and better PBX functionality
    • Lync is the best choise if you are a Microsoft house integrating in to Office, SharePoint and Yammer
    • Integrated chat and IM with Skype as well as consolidating MSN messenger in to the same offering
  3. Siemens Enterprise Communications ffers a full and integrated suite of UC functionality
    • 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
    • Is invisible in the UC market, and is suffering from that in the quadrant
  4. Avaya is more a visionary that last year
    • Avaya has expanded its portfolio, continued to improve the integration across its elements and simplified its pricing model
    • Avaya is extending its cloud capabilities and offers leading contact center solutions that leverage its UC solution
    • Invest in Avaya if you want to leverage existing investment in Avaya telephony

My thoughts on this

This years MQ is the one I disagree with the most since Gartner started publishing for Unified Communications. It is clear to me that the Norwegian market is quite different than in North America where business in Norway:

  • Use a lot of Microsoft technology
  • 90% of Lync deployments are with Enterprise Voice not to a subset of users, but with all users
  • Lync is often the only PBX or integrate with legacy PBX in a temporary coexistence environment
  • Operators integrate closely with Lync, lessen the need to complicate solutions with gateways
  • System Integrators like Atea has a complete offering taking full responsibility from the user device to the operator in the other end. Supporting third party products and other integrations in a single place

I don’t understand that releasing a completely new version is less progress than integrating a video feature in to Jabber and that this years focus in mobility is in favor of Cisco since Microsoft has made huge progress with the mobility offering with Lync Mobile.

I think administration of the solution should be weighted more. How many servers did you need to log on to for enabling the users for Cisco voice and jabber again? With Microsoft’s unified management using PowerShell accross their server platforms and a thriving community making additions and expanding on functionality should count for something. Being able to leverage management policies, techniques and tools across servers and products is true Return of Investment (ROI)

Clearly Microsoft should be in the lead. They have the offering, they are expanding customer portfolios and they have vision, with LRS being in close future and Enterprise Voice in the cloud as a long term goal.

Like Gartner I think customers are better served focusing their UC solution on single vendor and save their pain and money by not going the interoperability way at this point in time. If you have a three to five year investment plan, going for a single vendor will serve you well and you can realign your direction at the next crossroad if need be.

Still, working with Unified Communication as an expert and evangelist is rewarding because of infrastructure complexity, challenging deployments and big impact on end users quality of life helping businesses to change how they relate to their employees.  Hybrid and Cloud is going to add to this challenge before we hit the singularity and UC gets friction-less, but that is another story ;)


View the full report here, courtesy of Microsoft:
ad a Twitter chat with fellow MVP’s Justin Morris and Alex Lewis:
MVP Matt Landis had some thoughts on the Gartner report as well:
A good recap of the Gartner report by
noJitter’s Kevin Kieller comments on the Gartner report:
noJitter comments on the big picture of UC:

18 thoughts on “Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2013

  1. I’m thinking that the Cisco solution has moved ahead quite a bit since you last looked at it since the number of servers you have to log into to add a Jabber user is one (IM and Presence has been integrated into the CUCM server) and you were acting like it was a lot, I don’t think one is a lot.

    I don’t know a whole lot about the current Microsoft release, I’m sure they have improved a lot just like Cisco has and that’s why they are so close on the MQ.

    • Thanks for commenting John. Yeah, maybe my Cisco knowledge is not up to date, last I checked you needed to log on couple of places to enable users for all functionality on Cisco.

      My biggest disappointment is all they forgot to mention about Microsoft and Lync since they have released a new platform since last time and improved on all the areas Gartner felt Microsoft was lacking last year.

  2. I would definitely say that the Gartner report comes at an awkward time of year. Lync 2013 is still relatively new so Gartner might not have a full picture of some or all of the improvements.

    I keep hearing how much Cisco has improved. But it wouldn’t be hard to improve on a platform that has remained largely undeveloped since Cisco bought the voice platform. When they finally faced some competition, they finally decided to spend some of the money they’d been squirrelling away.

    Having now had the opportunity to deploy both Lync 2010 and 2013 I do know the differences. We have around 10 migrations planned so far and about 20 new installs in the pipeline. And almost all of them will include 100% enterprise voice. 60% or more of the new installs are replacing older Cisco UCM installs. These customers have a clear choice. Install the newest Cisco solution which includes IM. Or be innovative and install something that will transform their business.

    The Lync revolution is definitely not over. It has just begun.

  3. Microsoft made a lot of headway in the past year with Lync Server 2013, but I believe that a lot of the cons are because Microsoft has both the very immature Office365 offering and the much more robust on-premises.

    It is true though that a lot of businesses do retain their existing PBX systems, instead of going completely to Lync, which exposes one of the strengths of Lync: the ability to connect dissimiliar PBX solutions. Lync has a bit of an image problem in that the masses of C-Level people do not even realise it has the capability to do voice communications, whereas names like Cisco, Avaya, Shortel and Mitel have long been visible within the telephony space, after all “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” To complicate matters PBX systems often are expensive, often come with long term contracts and can have hardware that may have compatibility issues with Lync.

    The target level on this shows that the focus of the study was not at a Systems Engineering level, but rather a management level. Items such as the ease of management were obviously not a consideration, since Cisco is not as administrator friendly and a simple user password change can require multiple changes to multiple systems. The number of third party add-ins and the availability of the Lync SDK to the masses is a help rather than a hinderance, if looking at features that are not available out of the box, but to an executive that wants a single invoice this can be a negative. Another ding was the lack of in-the-box advanced feature-sets such as ACD, which is purely subjective as to whether that is a positive or negative, since you are not bundled in with something expensive that might not fit your business needs.

    • Thanks for your comment John. The strange thing is that MS was the leader of the Gartner MQ from 2008 until last year. and now suddenly they seem totally out of sync with what Microsoft is doing.

  4. What are you smoking..90% deploy EV….I worked for MSFT UC for three years and never saw a customer deploy Enterprise Voice for OCS or Lync. It was always PC to PC voice nothing more. MSFT consulting crawls under a rock the moment QoS network requirements for voice comes up. Good luck getting them to recommend anything and actually back it up with real support. Customers quite rightly expect mutual commitment.

    • Well that’s the advantage of working at a company that know infrastructure. I agree that competent partner are better at supporting Enterprise Voice and network features like QoS than Microsoft Consulting

  5. the MS lync architecture is a mess. mutli site international deployments are horrible. call control is horrible. no partners want to or can install it(ent voice that is). MS doesn’t support ent voice they push customers to partners that don’t know how to install it in the first place. I have customer’s that went with “free lync” 2 years ago that still dont have it deployed, have had multiple partners try and now are begging MS to come in with professional services to fix it.

    • Well, Atea has several years experience deploying enterprise voice, and that’s why I say in my article that I see that the Norwegian market is a bit different than North America, where we deploy lots of Enterprise Voice, make it work and help our customers succeed using it.

    • I will agree, multi-site international deployments are a challenge, but is that really much different than other products?

      The key issue is that there is a huge difference between installing Lync and configuring it properly for Enterprise Voice. Virtually anyone can click through a wizard and get Lync up for internal IM/Presence. Getting the Edge up and working provides a bit more of a challenge, but is easily overcome. Getting EV properly configured requires a bit more understanding of both the product and the peripheral equipment, not to mention that there is often a bit of research that comes into play (ie: I have an existing SIP trunk from xyz corp, which is not on the Lync list, but get it to work anyways; we have some old phones left over from the dark ages and it is a requirement to use them; we have an old media gateway and want to use media bypass).

      Unfortunately there are a lot of people in the US market that are experts at Lync, but know virtually nothing about EV, just like there are plenty of Exchange administrators that understand the nuances of the product, but have no exposure to Unified Messaging. I have seen both sides of the spectrum, having had customers that had poor implementations and hated it as well as customers that had it implemented correctly and absolutely hated getting off of it, but again, neither side is any different than any other product.

      • I don’t know what the big deal is with getting EV working. I’ve never had a problem personally. All but one deployment we’ve done includes EV. The odd one out includes RCC with Cisco. Which also has its issues that I’d rather avoid in the future.

        I have inherited and taken over big multi site installs from other partners, very big well known partners at that, and once I have a look I find several very small configuration mistakes that all add up to a host of problems. So it isn’t just EV that some have problems with, it is simple things too.

        I also say that if they want to use crappy old phones and old unsupported gateways people need to be brave enough to tell the customer that they are being stupid and asking for trouble. The customer is right until they aren’t.

  6. You probably don’t want to admit, but market is still not ready for soft-phone only. Skype doesn’t matter beyond personal communication and no matter what Microsoft wants us to believe, Lync still doesn’t compare with Jabber. it may have a fancy interface, but under the hood, Jabber works better. For example, Wifi to 3G/4G handshake, Jabber sign-in through CUCM cluster (part of CUCM now), site resiliency, remote site survivability, trunk bifurcation, and the biggest of all, Call Admission Control. Lync is horrible on CAC front.

    I don’t know if this comment will get published, but the fact is that world is still stuck with Cisco for a reason. I tried to work in Lync deployment field, but there is no pickup in APAC region, and it is probably only successful in North America, that too with new-age businesses.

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