A recent SearchUnifiedCommunications blog post titled ‘Polycom reduces network bandwidth costs, expands telepresence portfolio’, notes:
Incumbent Polycom quickly mobilized with a counteroffensive play, hyper-focusing on a strategy to retain their current market share and pull customers away from the monolithic Cisco. Forging new partnerships, cultivating deep alliances with existing partners and an aggressive focus on product development is Polycom’s core strategy.
Read the blog post for more details about Polycom’s unique strategy to take a different fork in the road in an attempt to set itself apart rather than competing head-to-head.]]>
Offers have to meet with shareholder and regulatory approval. In the case of Tandberg, many shareholders balked at Cisco’s initial offer. Cisco announced its intent to purchase Tandberg for about $3 billion on October 1. After two months of negotiations and speculation that the deal may fall through, Cisco eventually succeeded in acquiring Tandberg for closer to $3.4 billion.
Now that the deal is done, Cisco can get back to business. Its only serious competitor is Polycom, but Logitech recently threw down the gauntlet and jumped in the ring with its purchase of Lifesize Communications, as well.]]>
As a IT solutions provider, BT has been one of the leading champions of unified communications. BT has been a strong partner and supporter of Microsoft Office Communications Server, and Microsoft unified communications solutions. Cisco, on the other hand, is one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors in the UC arena.
The fact remains, though, that Microsoft is a software solution that relies on third-party networking and telecommunications hardware, and Cisco happens to be a leader in those areas. The combination of BT and Cisco, and the ability to integrate Cisco hardware and software with OCS 2007 should provide a powerful and cost effective UC solution for those who would rather not invest in their own UC infrastructure.
As John Blake, head of hosted IP telephony evolution for BT, is quoted saying in this article, “Business haven’t the money to invest in new technology, but they desperately need new technology.”]]>
Logitech announced the purchase of LifeSize Communications for $405 million. LifeSize has an established presence providing high-definition equipment for corporate video-conferencing systems. With 9,000 customers spanning 80 countries, LifeSize is not a newcomer to the field.
The move pits Logitech against major players in this market like Cisco and HP. Logitech can take LifeSize and do battle against Cisco and HP on its own, or it could conceivably pair up with Microsoft. A symbiotic relationship between Microsoft’s unified communications and conferencing software and the Logitech / LifeSize hardware could be a win-win for both parties and create a whole greater than the sum of its parts for facing off against Cisco and HP.]]>
A Computerworld article on the product launch says:
Allen Cohen, vice president of enterprise solutions, said told Computerworld that today’s new products and Cisco’s recent agreement to buy videoconferencing vendor Tandberg for $3 billion demonstrate that “Cisco is doubling down [its investment] on collaboration.”
I don’t disagree that it shows Cisco is commited, but 61 products??? I realize that a vendor like Cisco can’t create a one-size-fits-all unified communications solution and expect it to work for everyone, but 61 new products?!?!?!
My eyes glaze over just reading ’61 new products’. I haven’t even gotten to the part where I try to learn what each of the 61 new products does, how they work together, what impact they might have for a business, and what combination of this smorgasbord of products would work best.
I commend Cisco for its commitment, but I think it needs to understand that unified communications and collaboration is about simplification and efficiency. If it requires some sort of calculus algorithm just to map out the available options, customers will just be confused and choose something easier.]]>
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.
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So, when Microsoft and Cisco both jumped into the unified communications arena it made some ripples. The two giants are competing head to head for dominance of the lucrative unified communications market with very different approaches and very different visions of what unified communications actually is.
Microsoft- being Microsoft- approaches unified communications from a software perspective and is working toward a goal of a pure software PBX solution and replacing the traditional PBX. Cisco, on the other hand- being Cisco- has a more network and IP telephony-centric approach to unified communications. They each approach the market from their traditional strengths.
At one point, they had pledged to agree to disagree, but work together for the common good. That rhetoric lasted about until Microsoft unveiled Office Communications Server 2007 and then the gloves were off as they slammed each other’s products and solutions and went for the proverbial jugular.
In this market though, with this economy, they appear to have a renewed partnership. There is an old Arabic proverb: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. In this case, Microsoft and Cisco have a common enemy in the economic malaise which makes them friends by association.
In order to boost customer confidence and ensure that enterprises do not delay purchasing decisions waiting for a clear winner, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Cisco CEO John Chambers have vowed to ensure that their competing systems will interoperate and work together.]]>
Cisco is another story. At one point Microsoft and Cisco made a very public showing of burying the proverbial hatchet and vowing to cooperate in the best interests of corporate customers and unified communications in general. That cooperation lasted right up until they started rolling out products at which time the mud-slinging began. Each declared their approach and solution superior and slammed the other.
Whether they want to admit it or not though, they are sort of forced to play nicely together (sort of like the nerd and the playground bully while the teacher is actually monitoring recess activities). Cisco is a dominant player in network infrastructure and VoIP communications. Microsoft has a virtual monopoly on the PC desktop and a significant share of the enterprise server market. There is a high probability that a prospective customer is already using Cisco networking in conjunction with their Microsoft Windows network, so that prospective customer may very well wish to continue that balance as they move forward into unified communications.
Thankfully for the prospective customer, Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) does integrate with the Microsoft Office Communications Server environment. It isn’t always pretty, but it works. Mike Stacy, a Director with Evangelyze Communications, provides an illustrated step-by-step guide to configuring direct SIP connectivity between the Cisco and Microsoft communications products.]]>
The CUCM threats have been rated by Secunia as ‘moderately critical’. Vulnerable systems may be exposed to denial-of-service (DoS) attacks from a successful exploit. You can get more information from the Cisco Security Advisory and download the appropriate updates directly from Cisco.]]>
That sounds pretty impressive. What is more impressive is that CallWave has also integrated this application with Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007, enabling expanded unified communications functionality including the ability to invite / add users to a meeting with a simple click of the mouse. FUZE also works with the Cisco Unified Communication Manager (CUCM) IP PBX. In addition, CallWave has announced imminent support for the Apple iPhone, as well as support coming soon for Avaya, Mitel, Nortel, and other IP PBX platforms.]]>