In a recent Gartner article entitled Critical Capabilities for Unified Communications (16 Sep 2008 - G00160464), they identify eight critical UC capabilities: Telephony, Conferencing, Messaging, Instant Messaging, Clients, Communication-Enabled Business Processes (CEBP), Consolidated administration, and SMP products. Here are some of my take-aways:

  • Is your focus primarily on enhancing telephony or collaboration? The answer may direct you to one vendor versus another.
  • Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft are the only vendors with "excellent" ratings overall. Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, NEC, Nortel, and Siemens are all rated as "good."
  • IBM and Microsoft score the highest overall, but have a bias toward the collaboration use case.
  • Microsoft rates slightly higher than IBM in terms of the "Clients" capability, 5/5 compared to 4/5, due to usability.
  • IBM rates higher than Microsoft from a "Telephony" use case, due to its extensive partner ecosystem
  • The Avaya "Clients" capability is rated a 2/5, due to limitations with the Avaya One-X solutions.

Bottom line:

  • Preserve value of existing investments – i.e. don't forklift IBM and replace with Microsoft
  • Determine areas where UC investments provide most value and solve most urgent needs – i.e. instant messaging/presence and conferencing
  • Plan to leverage more than one UC vendor – no single vendor offers a complete UC solution

The full article is available to Gartner members or for individual purchase.

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