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UC With or Without a New IP-PBX: You Choose!

We have a new approach planned for the RFP sessions at Enterprise Connect this year. We think it will be really valuable for the audience, since it will directly contrast the three different options for buying and deploying UC in ways that most Enterprises are dealing with right now.

In the past, there have been four different RFPs and RFP-like sessions for UC and PBXs. One looked at just the PBX, without an emphasis on UC. Another looked at UC functionality, but not in an RFP format and the requirements were not the same as for the PBX RFP. A third RFP session called for cloud-based IP Telephony with some UC features, but not in the same format as the UC-only session. Finally, there was an RFP for mobility options with similarity to the UC only RFP, but not integrated with the IP-PBX or cloud sessions. These four produced lots of data, but not a direct comparison for easy Enterprise use.

This year--with input from Fred Knight and Eric Krapf, the co-chairs of Enterprise Connect--Dave Stein, Brent Kelly and I teamed up to develop one master RFP. The participating vendors are asked to respond to any or all of three options:

* Option 1: UC with a New IP PBX. This is the base case and is expanded beyond last year’s PBX RFP to include a complete section on UC. This section calls for the same suite of UC functions as in Options 2 and 3. This will highlight the value of buying UC with a new IP-PBX where the UC functionality is often bundled with the base PBX licensing. The IP-PBX and UC functionality are to be installed on the customer premises. As in 2011, Dave Stein is the organizer and moderator of this session. The analysis and vendor panel discussion for this RFP option will be delivered at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2012 on Monday, March 26, from 2:00 to 5:00 PM.

* Option 2: UC and IP Telephony in the Cloud. This mirrors Option 1, but calls for the UC and IP PBX functionality to be delivered from a cloud-based (i.e. not on-site) platform. This enables a direct comparison between the two delivery models of on-site (Option 1) and cloud-based (Option 2). Brent Kelly, who also organized and moderated the cloud-based solution session in 2011, has the lead here. The analysis and vendor panel discussion for this RFP option will be delivered at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2012 on Tuesday, March 27, from 2:30 to 5:30 PM.

* Option 3: UC without a New IP PBX. This session requests bids for only the UC functionality to be installed on-site and provided "side-by-side" with (or as an overlay to) the enterprise’s current TDM PBX systems. This is a common requirement for many enterprises that are not prepared to invest in an entirely new PBX infrastructure that is paid for and is working well. It also applies for enterprises that have recently upgraded to a new IP-PBX and want to compare the UC functionality provided by their IP-PBX vendor to the functionality provided by other leading UC suppliers. The UC functionality is the same as in Options 1 and 2 so there can be a direct comparison between configurations and price. Yours truly is the organizer and moderator for Option 3, which is the replacement for the "UC Options: Who’s Offering What?" sessions in prior years at Enterprise Connect and VoiceCon. The analysis and vendor panel discussion for this RFP option will be delivered at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2012 on Wednesday, March 28, from 2:30 to 5:30 PM.

We expect that some vendors will respond to all three options while some others will respond to only one or two options. This will also provide an important indication of what is available in the market.

These three RFP sessions will provide value far exceeding the price of admission for Enterprise Connect 2012, even before considering all the other great sessions, the keynotes, the exhibits and the always great networking and social events. Now’s the time to book that flight! Hope to see you there.