Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>

Zeus Kerravala | February 19, 2013 |


Fueling the Cisco versus Microsoft Fire

Fueling the Cisco versus Microsoft Fire Breaking down the different areas of communications--voice, video, conferencing, mobile and more--and seeing how the 2 vendors stack up.

Breaking down the different areas of communications--voice, video, conferencing, mobile and more--and seeing how the 2 vendors stack up.

All eyes are on San Diego this week as the Microsoft Lync conference kicks off. And regarding the Cisco versus Microsoft debate that has risen over the past few years--this has become the tech industry's version of Red Sox–Yankees.

Every survey I have seen over the past couple of years, including a Tech Target one I ran towards the end of 2012, points to Cisco being the most preferred UC solution provider, with Microsoft hot on their heels at #2. Avaya holds down with a strong #3 and then everyone else is fighting for table scraps. Understand, the surveys I have run look more at current preference than market share, as Lync is a still a minority share holder when it comes to UC.

Anyway, the point is that the debate is well worth the time because of the dominant position these two vendors find themselves in. So let's spend a bit of time looking at the relative strengths and weaknesses of each vendor.

Enterprise voice: Advantage Cisco
Despite all the changes this industry has gone through, voice is still the big application. In that Tech Target survey I referred to, VoIP was the top anchor application when it came to UC deployments, and this was an area where Cisco dominated Microsoft.

The majority of respondents, 62.3%, felt that Cisco was the leader in enterprise voice. Avaya was second with 17.3%, "others" made up 10.6% and only 9% of the audience cited Microsoft. I know that Microsoft has done a significant amount of marketing around Lync voice, but let's be realistic here--they have a long way to go to catch all of the vendors, not just Cisco. It takes a long time to do voice well, and Microsoft has an immature product here.

Audio and Web conferencing: Advantage Cisco
This is another application that may seem boring, but conferencing (audio/web) was the second most important UC application in the survey I ran. I wasn't really surprised by the strength of conferencing, considering how much it's used in any business person's life. This is another area that Cisco dominated in the survey, with 50% responding Cisco was the leader, compared to 20% for Microsoft. Cisco's WebEx audio conferencing platform has become the de facto standard for document sharing, so it's hard to argue with Cisco's leadership here.

Desktop Chat and Presence: Advantage Microsoft
The results of this response surprised me, as Cisco and Microsoft were virtually neck and neck in the survey. Contrary to what you might think, Cisco held a slight edge here with 35% of the respondents thinking that Cisco is the leader, with 34% for Microsoft. The reason I gave the advantage to Microsoft is that their go-to-market is tied up in the integration of their presence engine into other Microsoft applications, and considering the popularity of the Microsoft apps, the advantage should go to Microsoft.

Frankly though, doing chat and presence well isn't nearly as complex as what it is for voice or video. Whether a customer chooses to use Cisco's Jabber, Microsoft Lync, Avaya, ShoreTel, whatever, the experience will be roughly the same.

Enterprise video: Advantage Cisco
This is another area of UC where Cisco dominates Microsoft. The survey showed that 54% of the respondents felt Cisco was the leader. If you compare Cisco's video capabilities to that of Lync, it's not even worth comparing. Cisco's video solutions are just flat out better and broader than anything you can do with Lync natively. If you compare Cisco to Microsoft+Polycom, then the solutions are comparable, but the customer must choose to do this and manage multiple vendors. If the customer goes with Vidyo, Lifesize or another vendor, some sort of gateway is needed. The integration of Cisco video into its own UC solution gives Cisco a big edge here.

Next page: Cloud, mobile, applications


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.