Dave Stein- Principal- Stein Technology Consulting Group

Dave Stein- Principal- Stein Technology Consulting Group | April 02, 2014 |


Enterprise Connect RFP: Cloud and CPE Side by Side

Enterprise Connect RFP: Cloud and CPE Side by Side This year saw evolution in vendor offerings, as we sought to compare CPE and the cloud directly.

This year saw evolution in vendor offerings, as we sought to compare CPE and the cloud directly.

I returned from sunny Florida this week after a terrific time at Enterprise Connect and a few days of R&R in South Florida. This article highlights the well-attended Monday afternoon RFP session.

New to the session this year was the use of a single Voice/UC RFP that solicited premises (also configurable as a private cloud solution) as well as cloud solutions. A total of 10 responses (six premises and four cloud) were presented, including solutions from Cisco, Avaya, ShoreTel, Thinking Phone, NEC, Unify, and Alcatel-Lucent. Mitel and Microsoft chose not to participate this year. The RFP was based on an organization that is represented in the diagram below:

The RFP included stringent requirements for high availability, core voice functionality, voicemail, unified messaging, unified communications (e.g. presence, IM, voice, Web, video conferencing) and system administration.

Also new to this year's session was the introduction of panel discussions that covered topics such as:

* Top 3 Issues for Clients
* Product Differentiation
* Integration Issues
* Partner vs. Manufacturer Involvement
* Where does Managed Services fit?
* Deployment Issues
* How do Vendors Decide What to Propose (Cloud vs. Premises?)
* Responsibility Demarcation--LAN/WAN--Is This an Issue?

Key Session Findings
In general, there were fewer new products introduced than in previous years. It seemed to me that changes this year were "evolutionary" rather than "revolutionary". There was an emphasis on mobility, virtualization and integration of existing product sets, as well as on improving user interfaces.

The "Obvious"
• Continued development of Android and iOS platforms for mobility offerings (Limited support for Windows/Blackberry/Symbian)
• Everyone has a the ability to provide a highly reliable and secure system
• Significant activity in the development of UC offerings' functionality and user focus (e.g. Do users live in Outlook or Vendor UC Client?)
• Virtualization emphasis (Pretty much everyone can now provide most components in a virtual configuration)

The "Not so Obvious"
• Not every vendor has every feature you may want
• Gap in UC capabilities amongst the respondents has decreased, though still significant
• "Average prices" actually decreased 2014 vs. 2013
• Differentiation in cloud multi-instance vs. multitenant

Other Observations
* Significant differences still exist in vendor solutions (Architecture, E911, UC, Operator, Management, Cost)
* Cloud vs. premises functionality differences are more significant than you may think
* Cloud vs. premises TCO differences remain significant
* Notable variances in professional services costs (10X)
* Incremental changes in responses as compared to other years

Evaluating the Responses
For the past four years that I've been responsible for the session, a numerical evaluation has been published for each proposed solution that has the following criteria:

Obviously, your criteria and evaluation may vary from the ones that I used, and as a result, your findings may be different. I would also like to note that an inadvertent spreadsheet problem impacted the results presented during the session itself. Those are modified here as well as on the revised session slides available to Enterprise Connect attendees. The overall comparisons are noted below:

I'm looking forward to everyone's comments.

Dave Stein is principal of Stein Technology Consulting Group.

The full Enterprise Connect RFP document is available to Enterprise Connect attendees.

The Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) is an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


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