State of Unified Communications 2014

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

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

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:

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2011

August 11 2011 Gartner released the yearly Magic Quadrant for 2011 for the Unified Communications Segment. Here is a short summary of the report

The trend within Unified Communications (UC)

  • The Enterprise UC market has matured significantly since the previous report
  • The vendors now have
    – Seamless interoperability within the suite
    – The administration is more centralized
    – The deployment is even more easy than before
  • Gartner recommends to mix vendors for best-of-breed functionality
  • Single vendor still achieves acceptable functionality

The Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2011

Analysis: What has happened since last year?
Compare with last years post: https://msunified.net/2010/08/09/gartner-magic-quadrant-for-unified-communications-2010/

  1. Microsoft is still in the lead having the vision and being able to execute on it
    • Releasing Lync has strengthened their telephony offering
    • Office 365 with Lync Online have given them an edge in the UCaaS segment
    • The Skype acquisition will improve the Lync family offering even more
  2. Cisco is closer than ever
    • Got a more integrated approach with their UC 8.x release
    • Successfully integrated Tandberg with existing telepresence solution
  3. Avaya has the same position as last year
    • Improved on existing functionality
    • Added the Flare gesture oriented user interface
  4. Alcatel-Lucent have jumped from challenger to the leader quadrant
    • Advanced their portfolio and have to prove that they can deliver
  5. Siemens Enterprise Communications has taken a minor step from visionary to a visionary leader
    • Advanced their portfolio and have to prove that they can deliver

My take on this

As a Microsoft Unified Communications Architect it is good to see that the vendor of my primary focus is the market leader. I agree that Lync was a big step regarding voice and that Lync Online will be a good extension of Lync on-premise. Working in Atea we focus on vendor interoperability. Having even more vendors in the leader quadrant makes it equally more difficult for our customers to find the best solution.

Gartner says:“Using multiple vendors to offer users best-of-breed functionality in all UC areas, will also allow migration of existing investments”

This statement is very true and will demand an even broader vendor focus from the partners implementing UC. I am happy that Atea have this broad scope of competency and can design and deploy best-of-breed functionality based on Microsoft, Cisco and Avaya combined with third-party solutions.

Here is what Gartner says about Microsoft

Lync 2010 offers a full suite of UC functionality. Although the real-time functions in Lync — including voice, telephony, video and related conferencing — are not as mature as other functions (such as IM/P and Web conferencing, email and UM), they have improved significantly over the previous version, which was known as Office Communications Server 2007 R2. Microsoft has developed a strong
set of technology and service partners that offer a growing ecosystem.

Microsoft offers a visionary approach for addressing enterprise communication and collaboration requirements. Enterprises looking into UC should consider the Microsoft solution and, at a minimum, understand the vision and how solutions of this type might change their business processes. Enterprises considering deploying Lync telephony and video should understand its limitations and infrastructure requirements.

Strengths
  • Microsoft has had an impressive and growing list of Lync and Exchange UM deployments, from small (fewer than 300) to midsize to very large (more than 10,000) enterprises, in both centralized and distributed configurations. Although a few of the deployments report that they have completely eliminated their PBXs, most current deployments use Lync for some employees, while other employees and functions remain on the PBX. Microsoft’s pending Skype acquisition offer, along with the Lync Online and the Office 365 cloud service offerings, suggest that Lync will mature as a comprehensive and hybrid UC product.
  • Companies report that, once deployed, Lync functions can be integrated into business processes and applications, providing new, different and effective ways to perform tasks. In some cases, these new functions are achieved by deploying Lync enhancements from a growing list of ecosystem partners.
  • Microsoft has better positioned Lync to compete in telephony markets by adding several partner telephone handsets, by bundling of basic Lync functions in the Core client access license (CAL) and by offering a specific Lync Voice CAL.
Cautions
  • Enterprise planners should understand that Lync’s telephony and video functionality is new and has seen fewer deployments than traditional PBX vendors. As a result, in many cases, a phased or trial deployment approach may be an effective way to ensure that the system and the underlying network provide the needed functionality, quality and performance.
  • Most enterprises that integrate Lync with existing PBXs have done so via direct SIP trunking. Gartner research indicates that there are few reports of successful deployments based on a tight client-side or server-side integration. The difficulty is likely to result from the newness of the solution and the competitiveness of the UC market.
  • Although the bundling associated with Lync 2010 is positive for addressing basic users, Microsoft needs to support more integrations with front-office capabilities, such as contact center and switchboard functionality, to develop this product as an overall replacement for legacy communications infrastructures.

Read the full report here: http://www.gartner.com/technology/streamReprints.do?id=1-1728DMD&ct=110823&st=sb
Also read a good review here: http://www.ucstrategies.com/Gartner_UC_Magic_Quadrant_2011.aspx
Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications: UC integration improves: http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/news/2240074737/Magic-Quadrant-for-Unified-Communications-UC-integration-improves

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service 2010

Gartner released their Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) 2010 december 2010. This is the second time they release a MQ for this segment. They say it is a market that is in a maturity phase and will continue to change in the coming years. No participants are in the Leaders quadrant this year.

UCaaS is a cloud-based delivery of integrated communications capabilities spanning voice, messaging, conferencing and presence. Businesses should view UCaaS as an emerging alternative to premises-based UC platforms for improving productivity, processes and workflow.

Microsoft is a challenger with its BPOS offering. With Office 365 maybe they can become a leader in the UCasS market as they can offer Lync Online and Office Online in addition to Exchange and Sharepoint. Some of the major improvements in Lync Online is

  • Federation is now possible allowing collaboration with federated contacts
  • Combine Lync Online with On-Premise deployment as you can with Exchange 2010
  • Access to the Lync 2010 client is a benefit in it self

Read the full report here: http://www.gartner.com/technology/media-products/reprints/microsoft/vol14/article13/article13.html

Archiving in Exchange Server 2010 vs Symantec Enterprise Vault

When Exchange 2010 was released in RTM it introduced a new feature called Archive Mailbox. In RTM this Archive Mailbox had to be collocated in the same database as the main mailbox of the users. In Exchange Server 2010 SP1 the Archiving Mailbox feature was updated with the ability to have the Archive Mailbox located in a different database than the main mailbox.

When designing solutions for customers on Exchange Server 2010 I often get asked why they need archiving in the first place and is Exchange 2010 archiving good enough compared to Enterprise Information Archiving solutions such as Symantec Enterprise Vault. The answer is complicated, and it depends greatly on the customer needs and their users. To answer this you need to understand what Exchange archiving really is and how it differs from Enterprise Information Archiving. to answer this we look to Gartner.

Gartner has been publishing a Magic Quadrant for E-Mail Active Archiving since 2002 featuring products that does Enterprise level archiving of emails. They now see an increase in end-user demand of same type of archiving for additional content types such as files shares, Sharepoint and IM. That is the reason for Gartner in 2010 to release a new Magic Quadrant replacing the old. They now call it Enterprise Information Archiving. Vendors featured in this version need to be able to archive e-mail, file, Sharepoint and IM. Below is the latest Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving (EIA):

We see in this quadrant that Symantec is a leader with its Enterprise Vault product. These are the key points for the reason of why EV is in the leader quadrant

  • It’s a mature product with the largest worldwide base of enterprise customers
  • It archives mail, Windows file systems, Sharepoint and IM
  • Virtual Vault enables users to manage and view their archive data using a familiar GUI experience
  • Tight integration with is backup products
  • Enterprise level E-Discovery
  • Support for Exchange 2010 SP1 and Microsoft BPOS

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 is not part of the EIA Magic Quadrant. Gartner gives the following statement about why:

“Exchange 2010 archiving is a good choice for organizations that have never implemented archiving and are struggling with rapid, unmanageable growth of historical e-mail, or are looking for organizations that are looking to replace PST files with a more efficient and secure archiving capability. Because there is no support for files or other content types beyond e-mail, Microsoft’s archiving capabilities are not rated in this Magic Quadrant for EIA”

This is the essence of the Exchange Server 2010 archiving feature, it is an online PST archive with entry level archiving features. Knowing this, it boils down to the following questions:

  1. When is Exchange 2010 archiving good enough?
  2. When does the need for Enterprise Information Archiving like Symantec Enterprise Vault arise?

Koen Vermoesen has created a feature comparison between Exchange 2010 and Enterprise Vault in this article: http://blog.koenvermoesen.be/2010/06/03/symantec-enterprise-vault-vs-microsoft-exchange-server-archiving/

The feature Comparison between Exchange 2010 SP1 and Enterprise Vault 9.0 should be a good starting point to decide what solution to choose. I have updated it with some additional information. The conclusion in the feature comparison is noteworthy.

 

Microsoft Exchange
Server 2010

Symantec Enterprise
Vault 9.0

Archiving Targets

Exchange Server

Exchange Server

Lotus Domino

Sharepoint Server

File Servers

Prerequisites

SP1 to store primary and secondary mailboxes in separate databases

Support for E2K10 from SP1 onwards

OWA or Outlook 2010/2007 to access the archives

Outlook 2003/2007/2010

 

Additional client software required

Integration

Seamless integration, both client and server-side; pst-like

Training required for both the Administrator and the end-user

Mailbox search and conversation view work across both mailboxes

Additional technology

 

“Stubs”, Archive Explorer look “different” to the end-user

Virtual Vault looks just like a pst and mailbox search work across mailbox and Virtual Vault

 

Offline Archive Support

None

Offline Vault

Storage

Exchange databases

SIS

No SIS

Special options like WORM, lots of choice

PST Migration

Gathering of PST is manual. Need to be imported using Outlook or Powershell

PST files can be added both from local computers and NFS with limited user interaction using collector tools

Legal Position

Weak

Strong

Migration

Easy (?)

Hard (?)

 

 

In place upgrades not supported, need to do swing migrations

Cannot skip major versions. Full reinstall even for SP’s

 

Need to pay attention to compatibility both for client and server-side software

Cost

Enterprise CAL’s (Client Access Licenses) required

Additional software to license

Possibly additional server licenses

Additional hardware, can be virtualized with less than 1000 users, or low mailflow.

 

 

Separate SQL server in large deployments

Training

 

Conclusion

Low end alternative for pst-files for the first time ever

If you want to archive…

… for seamless PST import

… for legal reasons

… multiple targets

… to specific storage solutions

 

 

 

References:
Gartner Magic Quadrant EIA october 2010: http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/about/media/industryanalysts/Gartner_MQ_EIA_03Nov10.pdf 

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2010

[tweetmeme source=”stalehansen” only_single=false]Gartner updated their magic quadrant for Unified Communications July 2010. It is always interesting to see what Gartner has to say about the UC market. It is good to see that Microsoft still is in the lead followed closely by Cisco and Avaya. As we can se from 2009 to 2010 is that Microsoft is still in the lead while IBM has been reduced to a challenger. Cisco and Avaya has gotten a clearer UC message and are following Microsoft closely. I often use this in presentations at seminars to explain some of the reason why we promote Microsoft as the UC vendor of choice.

Here is what Gartner has to say about Microsoft in their article

Microsoft

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).

Strengths
  • 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.


Cautions

  • 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.

Link to the full article: http://www.gartner.com/technology/media-products/reprints/microsoft/vol10/article19/article19.html

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2009

[tweetmeme source=”stalehansen” only_single=false]Gartner updated their magic quadrant for Unified Communications september 1st, 2009. It is always interesting to see what Gartner has to say about the UC market. It is good to see that Microsoft still is in the lead followed closely by Cisco and IBM. I often use this in presentations at seminars to explain some of the reason why we promote Microsoft as the UC vendor of choice. Here is an excerpt from the article.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s UC solution is based on Exchange Server, OCS, and Active Directory. Microsoft also has strategic partnerships in specific areas, such as live voice/IP-PBX and conference bridges, and a growing set of major system integration and channel partners.

Strengths

  • The OCS Pilot and Lighthouse programs have allowed Microsoft to increase OCS voice and audioconferencing deployments, despite the slow economy. Through these programs Microsoft, its partners, and its channels have gained experience with the OCS solution. As a result, while the UC solution remains in the early stage in key areas, it is making progress and is being deployed to more sites and to larger numbers of users.
  • 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.
  • Microsoft’s historic strength in several UC areas, combined with promising emerging initiatives, results in significant potential. Historically strong areas include clients (desktop, Web and mobile clients), e-mail, collaboration (IM, presence, Web-conferencing, and SharePoint). 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 the Microsoft portfolio, because it represents a new paradigm for communication by a market leader. Microsoft’s solution, while comprehensive, is also the basis for a range of partner offerings.

Cautions

  • The telephony functionality in OCS remains in the early stage. Although these have made progress in the last year, they are not yet competitive with best-of-breed products. Enterprise planners should understand their limitations before committing to expanded deployments. Planners should anticipate that clear, accurate material explaining the products and how to support them is sometimes lacking.
  • While the UM component of Exchange has gained acceptance, it has limitations, including requiring an Exchange 2007 upgrade, third-party PBX integrations for trunks and alerts like message waiting notification (MWI), it requires an e-mail license for all users, even those who only want voice mail, and only one form of telephone user interface (TUI).
  • 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 of the 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.

 Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications

  169996~1
Source: Gartner 2009

Evaluation Criteria


Ability to Execute

Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers based on the quality, efficacy and overall maturity of the products, systems, tools and procedures that enhance individual, group and enterprise communications. Ultimately, UC providers are judged on their ability and success in capitalizing on their vision (see Table 1).

Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation Criteria
Weighting
Product or Service
high
Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy and Organization)
high
Sales Execution/Pricing
standard
Market Responsiveness and Track Record
standard
Marketing Execution
standard
Customer Experience
standard
Operations
standard
Source: Gartner (September 2009)

Completeness of Vision

Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers on their ability to convincingly articulate logical statements about current and future market directions, innovations, customer needs and competitive forces, and how well these map to Gartner’s overall understanding of the marketplace. Ultimately, UC product providers are rated on their understanding of how market forces can be exploited to create opportunities for providers and their clients (see Table 2).

Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation Criteria
Weighting
Market Understanding
high
Marketing Strategy
standard
Sales Strategy
standard
Offering (Product) Strategy
high
Business Model
standard
Vertical/Industry Strategy
standard
Innovation
standard
Geographic Strategy
standard
Source: Gartner (September 2009)