Remember when Cisco was a network hardware company? Cisco and networking were virtually synonymous and you knew who to call if you needed a router or a switch. Once upon a time, Avaya was a provider of enterprise communications equipment. If you needed phones or maybe an IP PBX, you could call Avaya. In days gone by Microsoft focused on server and desktop operating systems and developing software applications to help businesses be more productive. Ah, the good ole days.
To be fair, each of those companies still does what it used to. But, now the waters are muddy as they all try to be all things to all customers. As Joe Schurman, CEO of Evangelyze Communications and author of Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications, points out in his musings from Voicecon 2009, nobody was content with their piece of the pie and now they all want to be the whole pie.
The thing is, none of them really have ALL of the ingredients necessary to make the best pie. If I could only buy a pie from one company I would get my pie from Microsoft because they have the most complete list of ingredients. I might need to top it off with some additional ingredients like SmartSIP, but the Microsoft Unified Communications platform offers the most comprehensive and innovative features in the most cost effective and flexible solution of the major players.
That said, these vendors and the customers both benefit when they stop competing to be the whole pie and instead focus on how to integrate their ingredients to cooperate to make the best pie possible. A Microsoft Unified Communications platform using Avaya or Nortel communications equipment connected to a Cisco network infrastructure seems like a recipe for success.