MarketScope for Unified Communications for the SMB Market, Western Europe
The Western European small-and-midsize-business unified communications market continues to evolve, with providers enhancing their UC portfolios.
Unified communications (UC) adoption within the Western European market continues to gradually rise. Increasingly, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are evaluating and acquiring a broader mix of applications as part of their communications decision. While some SMBs continue to prefer more basic stand-alone applications, many are adopting integrated UC solution sets. Gartner anticipates SMB UC investment will gain momentum as the providers serving the market make enhancements to their portfolios and as the economic environment across the region improves (see "Forecast: Enterprise Communications Applications, Worldwide, 2007-2016, 2Q12 Update" for more insight). In the near term, investment in new communications solutions is inhibited by general spending caution fueled by the European sovereign debt crisis.
SMBs have specific purchasing criteria that shape their UC investment decisions. SMBs require UC solutions that are easy to install, configure, use and manage; solutions that are competitively priced; solutions that have a high level of integration (integrated user and management interfaces); and solutions that do not increase demands on already-lean IT staff. Additionally, SMBs require localized solutions and support that meet their language requirements. This research highlights the purchasing criteria that shape SMB UC decisions and evaluates the UC solutions serving Western European SMBs within this context.
Since the 2011 MarketScope, providers serving the Western Europe SMB market have been actively enhancing their UC portfolios and marketing and sales strategies. Providers are increasingly focusing on expanding the range of devices that solutions support. Additionally, many providers are further consolidating servers that were previously separately administered and/or sold. Given the evolving market dynamics, Gartner updated its 2012 evaluation criteria to include a broader mix of UC elements. The new criteria evaluate clients and communications applications and require that these applications can be integrated into a complete solution.
While many providers experienced changes in specific evaluation criteria ratings (market understanding, market strategy, sales strategy, product offering, overall viability [business unit, financial, strategy, organization], and customer experience), two vendors experienced changes that led to a shift in their overall MarketScope ratings in 2012 compared with the previous year. Avaya moved from a Promising rating to a Positive rating, based in part on an improved market strategy rating. Alcatel-Lucent moved from a Positive rating to a Promising rating, based in part on corporate initiatives that put a degree of caution on its overall enterprise business initiatives (see the Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent sections for more detail).
This MarketScope focuses on the premises-based (or infrastructure-based) UC market for Western European SMBs. For the purposes of this MarketScope, an SMB is defined as having between 20 and 499 employees, which falls within — but doesn't align exactly to — Gartner's broader global definition of up to 1,000 employees (see "Dataquest Guide: Gartner's New SMB Segmentation and Methodology"). We chose to limit the scope of this report to the 20- to 499-employee category because of the wide range of SMB offerings within this segment.
To support this MarketScope evaluation work, Gartner did the following:
- Conducted customer interviews
- Conducted channel partner interviews
- Requested and analyzed UC RFPs (one for a 50-user implementation and one for a 250-user implementation) from each vendor
- Conducted vendor interviews
- Conducted financial ratings of vendors according to Gartner's financial rating tool
This MarketScope is different from "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications" because it focuses strictly on those offerings aimed at the needs and requirements of SMBs. "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications" focuses on solutions for upper-midsize businesses, large businesses, very large businesses and multinational corporations. However, there is some overlap in vendors and offerings between the two reports. This MarketScope is also focused on premises-based UC offerings, as opposed to the service-based offerings covered in the UC as a service (UCaaS) Magic Quadrant (see "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, North America" for more information).
SMB purchasing criteria for UC are based on preferences for solutions that:
- Are easy to install, configure and manage (require limited customization)
- Are simple to use and have consistent user interfaces in the local language
- Don't increase demand on already limited IT resources
- Have affordable, transparent and simple pricing that makes it easy to acquire UC functionality
- Come with superior customer service and support
These SMB characteristics formed the basis of this MarketScope's evaluation criteria and provider ratings.
UC is a direct result of the convergence of communications and applications. Differing forms of communications have been developed, marketed and sold as separate individual applications. In some cases, they even had separate networks and devices. The convergence of all communications on Internet Protocol (IP) networks and open-software platforms is enabling a new paradigm for UC, and IT is changing how individuals, groups and organizations communicate.
Gartner evaluates UC using a framework of six broad communications functions:
- Voice and telephony — This area includes fixed, mobile and soft telephony, as well as the evolution of PBXs and IP PBXs. This also includes live communications, such as video telephony.
- Conferencing — This area includes separate voice, videoconferencing and Web conferencing capabilities, as well as converged unified conferencing capabilities.
- Messaging — This area includes email (which has become an indispensable business tool), voice mail and unified messaging (UM) in various forms.
- Presence and instant messaging (IM) — These will play an increasingly central role in the next generation of communications. Presence services, in particular, are expanding to enable aggregation and publication of presence and location information from and to multiple sources. This enhanced functionality is sometimes called "rich presence."
- Clients — Unified clients enable access to multiple communications functions from a consistent interface. These may have different forms, including thick desktop clients, thin browser clients and mobile tablets, as well as specialized clients embedded within business applications.
- Communications applications — This broad group of applications has directly integrated communications functions. Key application areas include consolidated administration tools, collaboration applications, contact center applications and notification applications. Eventually, other applications will be communications-enabled. When business applications are integrated with communications applications, Gartner calls them "communications-enabled business processes."
To be included in this MarketScope, solution providers must have:
- On-premises products that include all of the following six UC areas: (1) voice capability; (2) conferencing; (3) messaging; (4) presence and IM; (5) clients; and (6) communications applications
- The ability to generate significant interest in the 20- to 499-employee segment in Western Europe
- An offering with significant market presence (defined as market share, differentiating innovation, and/or mind share)
- Demonstrable UC for SMB portfolio/products with references
- The UC functionality in each area that can be integrated into a complete solution
Overall Market Rating: Promising
While our outlook for the Western European SMB market is optimistic, our current rating for this market is Promising because of the ongoing work required to ensure full consolidation of the various communications elements that make up a UC solution. Currently, some elements (consistent and integrated management interfaces across applications) must continue to evolve before solutions are truly unified. The unification of management and user interfaces is especially important in the SMB market, given SMBs' more-stretched IT resources (compared with large enterprises) and their preference for easy-to-implement and easy-to-use solutions. Providers servicing the Western European SMB UC market vary in their ability to deliver robust, fully integrated UC solutions. Many are refining their SMB UC offers and go-to-market strategies. Providers with significant installed bases of time division multiplexing (TDM) telephony remain challenged to transition their base of channel partners in terms of training and certifying their partners, as well as getting them to the stage in which they are comfortable selling UC solutions to their customer base. Some providers are further along with having a broad base of UC-certified and trained channel partners. Overall, most providers are actively enhancing their training programs, improving UC bundles, restructuring UC pricing, and working to simplify UC implementations. Gartner anticipates vendor capabilities for the SMB market will continue to improve during the next 18 months to two years, and investments will rise when some of the caution, which is inhibiting new solution investments (stemming from the European sovereign debt crisis and related economic and political turmoil), is reduced.
While adoption and interest in UC by SMBs continues to grow, adoption is gradual. Continued adoption is expected to occur at a modest pace for the following reasons:
- The existing economic environment created by the European sovereign debt crisis is inhibiting some near-term UC-related investment initiatives.
- Maturity of vendor solutions is evolving: Providers are in various stages of enhancing and integrating their UC components, but some UC elements are still offered in separate servers, which increases not only the complexity of the communications decision and implementation, but also the overall solution cost.
- Difficulty in business case justification: A lingering focus on cost containment and conflicting and time-sensitive requirements for hardware and software upgrades are preventing organizations from moving ahead with UC implementations.
- Some SMBs opt for basic communications functionality (basic telephony and voice messaging functionality) instead of advanced UC capabilities.
- Existing investments in point solutions: Most SMBs have portions of UC in place (telephony, voice messaging and email), but some fail to find the cost or business justification of "unifying" these components — especially when the existing equipment hasn't reached the end of its useful life cycle.
Source: Gartner (August 2012)
Source: Gartner (August 2012)
Source: Gartner (August 2012)
Source: Gartner (August 2012)
A high proportion of Aastra's revenue is generated from the European telephony and UC markets, although the company's reach and presence extend globally. Since 2003, Aastra has expanded its customer base through acquiring the following companies or divisions: Switzerland-based Ascom's PBX division, France-based EADS Telecom, Germany-based DeTeWe and Sweden-based Ericsson's Enterprise Communications Business.
Aastra is continuing to consolidate its SMB telephony and UC portfolio with enhancements to its 400 and 700 product lines and a phaseout of the Aastra 800, IntelliGate, BusinessPhone and MD Evolution solutions. The Aastra 400 (migration path for channel partners selling IntelliGate, MD Evolution and BusinessPhone) supports up to 600 users, and the Aastra 700 (offers partners selling the MX-ONE solution additional sales opportunities as well as offers a migration path for BusinessPhone customers) supports up to 1,000 users. Enhancements made to the Aastra 400 since the last MarketScope iteration include the addition of spoken presence, voice message forwarding and built-in call recording. Additionally, Aastra has been expanding its vertical market focus with the Aastra 400 r.2.0 (released in the second quarter of 2012) geared specifically for the hospitality industry. Aastra 700 enhancements include new VMware capabilities and speech-enabled UM functionality; the Aastra 700 also offers a cost-effective contact center solution derived from the same platform that is used by midsize and large Aastra customers. Both solutions can support telephony, IM/presence, notification, UM, audioconferencing and videoconferencing capabilities. Neither solution provides Web conferencing functionality.
During 2012, Aastra made enhancements to its BluStar videoconferencing and collaboration portfolio, expanding the range of BluStar-enabled user devices. The portfolio now includes a dedicated desktop device and soft clients enabling PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
SMBs should consider Aastra offerings if they are looking for mobility-focused European-centric UC offerings with a broad range of terminals, or if they are seeking channel partners possessing strong local knowledge and support.
- A product consolidation initiative, combined with UC-related R&D, enables Aastra's offerings to support enhancements that include integrated mobility solutions and two-way seamless hand-over between IP and cellular networks.
- Aastra leverages Ericsson's mobility expertise in integrated mobility to offer an array of mobile solutions, including IP Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) DECT, Wi-Fi and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). In the second quarter of 2012, Aastra acquired Comdasys, a German platform-agnostic FMC provider, which strengthens the company's mobility expertise.
- Aastra has built an excellent reputation for providing a cost-effective range of third-party endpoints, which can support SIP and UC capabilities. The company's BluStar product line adds high-definition desktop video functionality.
- Aastra's numerous acquisitions have helped the company build a strong presence in the European SMB market and a broad network of channel partners across the region with experience serving SMB end users. Aastra's channel partners generally report an overall positive experience working with Aastra.
- Aastra is still executing on its product consolidation strategy and transitioning its customers to the Aastra 400 and 700 offerings. Additionally, some of Aastra's partners have limited experience positioning and supporting the newer offerings.
- While Aastra continues to make enhancements to its UC portfolio, some UC components are not as robust as some competitors' offerings. For example, its IM/presence may not be as user-friendly, and Aastra does not offer Web conferencing functionality.
- While Aastra has a solid installed base of SMB customers across Europe, the company is known primarily for telephony instead of advanced UC functionality. The company currently has greater leverage with organizations interested in taking a slower phased approach to UC versus IT department-led decision makers in pursuit of robust UC functionality. Aastra will need to continue to align marketing efforts toward positioning UC messages to end users and channel partners across Europe.
- Redundancy and failover can be provisioned at an additional cost for the Aastra 700, but they are not available for the Aastra 400.
Alcatel-Lucent positions two primary solutions for the SMB market.
For companies with 10 to 100 users, Alcatel-Lucent has the OmniPCX Office Rich Communication Edition (RCE), which can support more than 200 users. The most recent release of the OmniPCX Office RCE offering is appliance-based and provides support for the UC functionality: voice; mobility (mobile UC, secure access control and teleworking); messaging (IM, UM and fax); rich presence; voice, data and video collaboration; and contact center capabilities. Video and Web conferencing are available as premises-based or cloud-based offerings.
For midsize businesses with between 100 and 1,500 employees, Alcatel-Lucent offers the OpenTouch Business Edition — the evolution of Business integrated Communication Solution (BiCS). OpenTouch Business Edition provides full-featured, integrated UC functionality and includes the OmniPCX Enterprise and network management capabilities. OpenTouch leverages a SIP architecture and provides telephony, conferencing (audio, video and Web), as well as messaging, mobility and presence/IM functionality. OpenTouch Business Edition features native video switching, multimedia collaboration and unified management of all UC elements. Additionally, in June 2012, Alcatel-Lucent announced support for the OpenTouch Conversation (OTC) for iPad.
In 2011, Alcatel-Lucent announced it was exploring the sale of its Enterprise Business Group, which included its UC product portfolio and Genesys contact center business. On 1 February 2012, Alcatel-Lucent confirmed the sale of Genesys to Permira, a private equity firm, and indicated it will keep the remaining enterprise business.
SMBs should consider Alcatel-Lucent if they are seeking a UC offering that is competitively priced, reliable and easy to use, or if they are looking for a provider with a broad base of partners across Europe.
- Alcatel-Lucent has an established presence and a significant partner network in place across most of Western Europe.
- SMBs can acquire a full UC suite through Alcatel-Lucent at relatively lower price points versus most other UC competitors. Alcatel-Lucent, however, receives slightly less differentiation from a low total cost of ownership (TCO) perspective than it has in the past — a result of a change with service management fees (fees for general Alcatel-Lucent support and software evolution).
- Unified management of the UC applications within the OpenTouch platform — including simplified solution bundling and intuitive user-centric pricing through its On Demand Communications (ODC) licensing model — helps meet the needs of IT-resource-constrained SMBs.
- Alcatel-Lucent's OTC for iPad and MyIC offer users an intuitive and secure way to enable seamless communications across various devices, including laptops, SIP phones, desk phones, video devices and tablets. While the first iteration of OTC offers limited platform support, the next iterations are expected to support Windows, Android and Mac OS, followed by the main smartphone platforms.
- During 2011, Alcatel-Lucent's exploration of selling its Enterprise business unit created uncertainty regarding Alcatel-Lucent's long-term commitment to its UC business. In early 2012, Alcatel-Lucent announced the sale of its Genesys business unit and the intention to retain its Enterprise business unit. Despite this renewed commitment, some momentum appeared lost during this period.
- With the second quarter of 2012 consolidated financial results for the company at an unsatisfactory level, Alcatel-Lucent announced a program to reduce costs by €1.25 billion by the end of 2013. This program includes the reduction of approximately 5,000 employees across the company and a restructuring or exiting of unprofitable markets. Gartner will be evaluating the impact of this program on Alcatel-Lucent's UC business.
- Although Alcatel-Lucent's UC offerings are reliable, when issues do occur, some partners have experienced problems with timely and effective next-level support, which can negatively impact the overall customer experience.
- Redundancy and failover capabilities are extra-cost options for Alcatel-Lucent's SMB UC offerings.
Avaya continues to make significant progress integrating the products and channels of its combined Avaya/Nortel Enterprise Solutions (NES) assets following Avaya's December 2009 acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business. Avaya was taken private by private equity firms Silver Lake Partners and TPG Capital in 2007. In June 2011, Avaya announced plans to file for an initial public offering (IPO). However, the company has not yet scheduled an offering date.
Within the small- and low-end midsize-market segment, Avaya positions IP Office and the Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise as follows:
- The IP Office product portfolio includes IP Office 8.1 and the new Server Edition. IP Office 8.1 can scale up to 384 users in a single site and up to 1,000 users in a multisite network, with additional expansion modules. IP Office Server Edition is Linux-based and scales up to 1,000 users at a single location. IP Office is sold in role-based packaging, with UC functionality offered for different worker types, and it can support voice, UM, audioconferencing and videoconferencing, presence/IM and notification. IP Office does not natively support Web conferencing; instead, Web conferencing functionality can be obtained through a certified DevConnnect partner. IP Office is sold in the following editions: Essential for fewer than 25 users; Preferred for more-advanced UC functionality; and Advanced for SMBs with customer service departments requiring contact center applications. All three versions support TDM and IP on the same platform. Starting with release 7.0, which was announced in March 2011, IP Office supports most end-of-sale Nortel BCM and Norstar phones, as well as a broader range of Avaya devices, SIP trunks, and customized applications for the healthcare vertical.
- The Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise combines telephony, call center, messaging and UC onto a single virtualized server and supports up to 2,400 users. This solution adds more native UC functionality than IP Office, including IM/presence, Web conferencing, notification and multivendor integration, as well as an add-on multimedia contact center option. Customers can maintain IP Office endpoints by using it as a gateway when migrating to Avaya Aura, or they can network IP Office with Avaya Aura. Additionally, Avaya Aura supports desktop video and videoconferencing using the Avaya Desktop Video Device with the Avaya Flare Experience and Radvision Scopia video endpoints as well as Avaya B100 audioconferencing devices.
SMBs should consider Avaya offers if their UC plans include telephony, messaging or contact center requirements, and they are looking for a solid telephony brand with an ample selection of UC channel partners.
- Avaya has strong brand recognition and reputation in the SMB telephony market across Western Europe. Avaya has a history of selling portions of UC (most notably, telephony, messaging and contact center functionality) and being recognized as a reliable provider of these solutions. As a result, for voice-centric UC bids, Avaya is frequently included in the SMB UC consideration set.
- The company has a very large installed base of telephony and contact center customers across the globe, and it offers the opportunity to migrate customers to Avaya's next-generation SMB UC solutions. For example, IP Office supports most heritage Nortel IP and digital phones, which enables customers to migrate their Nortel investments to IP Office as well as to Avaya Aura.
- IP Office is widely recognized for natively supporting an audioconferencing capability for various combinations of up to 64 simultaneous users for a total of 128 ports; Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise supports a call center application widely deployed among midsize and large organizations.
- Avaya has a broad base of SMB-certified channel partners throughout Western Europe, which gives Avaya a more extensive reach to SMB end users compared with most competitors. Through its partners, Avaya is investing in marketing campaigns. As part of these marketing efforts, it is holding SMB-focused events and focusing on promotional programs to help increase mind share with European SMBs.
- All Avaya SMB solutions support the use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and operating systems, such as iOS, Android and Windows.
- The incremental costs for UC licensing could discourage some users from implementing Avaya's UC functionality. Prospects should understand licensing charges for endpoints as well as bundles for certain elements that were previously available for purchase through a la carte pricing. Shifts in solution pricing has created the perception among some SMBs that basic telephony functionality through IP Office is price-competitive but advanced UC functionality is price-prohibitive. Avaya is taking steps to correct this perception.
- It's important to validate that specific channel partners have had appropriate training associated with IP Office Server Edition, which became generally available in July 2012, because the Server Edition's architecture and operating system differ from IP Office and Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise.
- SMBs should consider the financial strength and overall stability of Avaya and the Avaya partner. According to Gartner's financial rating tool, Avaya's financial rating is Caution, as it was when this research was published in 2011. Furthermore, some partners have reported that support to Avaya's SMB channel partners has been slow, which can impact partners' abilities to respond to implementation or support issues in a timely manner. Avaya is addressing these concerns with collaboration-enabled contact, whereby tickets can be opened via the Web or over the phone and also through its new Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/VPN capabilities for remote management.
- For single-site configurations for IP Office, redundancy and failover capabilities are extra-cost options. Unlike Avaya Aura for large-scale requirements, redundancy and failover capabilities are extra-cost options for the Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise.
- Growing organizations should evaluate the capacity options of the Avaya IP Office portfolio because migration to the Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise can be expensive. While most IP phones and user licenses can be reused across most platforms, the user and management interfaces vary across the SMB product portfolio and will likely require retraining for users.
The Cisco SMB portfolio that supports UC functionality comprises three platforms:
- For small businesses from 20 to 138 employees, Cisco has the Smart Business Communication System (SBCS) UC500 series. The UC500 series comes in two versions — the 540 supports up to 24 users and is upgradable to the 560, which supports up to 138 users. SBCS is an all-in-one offering that includes: voice, data, integrated messaging, single-business voice mailbox for mobile users, auto attendant, automatic call distributor (ACD), video, VPN, and wireless LAN (WLAN) access. Support for IM and presence requires an optional Cisco Smart CallConnector.
- Cisco Business Edition 3000 supports up to 99 users in a single system, as well as up to 300 users and 10 sites by deploying multiple systems. The solution integrates voice, video, mobility, messaging, applications and voice gateway services on a single appliance. Support for IM and presence requires Cisco Jabber Cloud, which is an optional subscription-based cloud service.
- Cisco Business Edition 6000 is designed for organizations with up to 1,000 employees, and it provides the same features offered through the Business Edition 3000, but it adds support for the Cisco Jabber mobile client, offers a contact center option and adds redundancy for up to all four co-resident applications, which can be call processing, contact center, voice mail and presence. A virtualization option enables consolidating multiple applications on a single server.
SMBs should consider SBCS if they have up to 125 employees in a single site looking for an all-in-one solution. They should consider Business Edition 3000 if they are looking for more basic UC functionality to support up to 300 users; and they should consider Business Edition 6000 if they are looking for support for up to 1,000 users, advanced UC features, and the ability to run in a VMware environment.
- Cisco offers a robust and complete portfolio of UC functionality — from conferencing to presence and video capabilities. Because of its strengths in solution development, Cisco can typically offer advanced UC functionality if the SMB desires customized functionality and/or specific applications. Cisco's partners now have the ability to resell WebEx, so SMBs desiring Web conferencing/videoconferencing and collaboration capabilities can obtain this functionality through their Cisco channel partner.
- Cisco has a well-aligned, consistent global marketing message and is able to get its UC messages out to SMBs and its many global channel partners. This marketing strength has allowed Cisco to obtain strong mind share among SMBs and SMB partners, and allows Cisco to be frequently considered in the SMB UC vendor consideration set. Gartner has noted an increase in partners deciding to resell Cisco SMB UC solutions in addition to their existing portfolio because of the increase in customers demanding Cisco UC.
- Cisco's channel partners typically provide the network infrastructure (switches and routers), as well as the UC functionality, which can be especially appealing for SMBs because it gives them "one throat to choke" if there are performance issues. Additionally, Cisco has strong relationships with service providers (such as BT), which have expertise working with European SMBs.
- Cisco has expanded the breadth of its phone portfolio, offering a wide range of low-priced IP phones that are also more energy-efficient than older models. The low-priced phones improve the company's ability to compete in the price-sensitive SMB market.
- Depending on the platform and level of functionality required, the Cisco architecture could require a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) to implement — something not many SMBs regularly have in-house. Cisco has developed simpler versions of some products, such as Packaged Contact Center Enterprise (CCE); however, Gartner clients continue to report complexity associated with Business Edition implementations.
- Growing organizations should evaluate the capacity limits of Cisco SBCS and Business Edition. For example, if a small business outgrows the SBCS 540 version, it must upgrade to the 560 version or replace the 540 with Business Edition. Similarly, migration from Business Edition 3000 to Business Edition 6000 will require a server upgrade. While most IP phones and user licenses can be reused across most platforms, the user and management interfaces vary across the SMB product portfolio and will likely require retraining for users. Redundancy is an extra-cost option for Business Edition 6000.
- Pricing and licensing can be complex for some of the solutions. Overall solution costs for advanced UC functionality are difficult to calculate, and in some cases, the solution is designed with multiple boxes, which can be time-consuming to implement and more difficult to manage.
Switchvox, Digium's all-in-one packaged solution geared toward SMB organizations, is based on the open-source-based Asterisk platform. Digium's Asterisk solution (the toolset that can be customized to create a UC solution) is not included as part of this MarketScope evaluation because it is not available as an off-the-shelf solution and requires a network integrator.
Switchvox is offered in three variations: The Switchvox 65 supports up to 30 users; the Switchvox 305 supports up to 150 users and the Switchvox 355 supports up to 400 users. The solutions feature telephony, audioconferencing, UM, IM/presence, call queues, FMC, recording, fax, and salesforce.com and SugarCRM integration, as well as notification and collaboration functionality. Switchvox does not provide built-in Web conferencing or videoconferencing functionality.
In April 2012, Digium released a line of SIP standard phones that can be sold in conjunction with Switchvox: the D40 — a low-priced two-line phone with basic functionality; the D50 — a midlevel four-line phone with 10 rapid dial/busy lamp field (BLF) keys; and the D70 — a more feature-rich six-line key executive-level phone with an LCD screen featuring real-time status information. Digium relies on third-party phones (Polycom or Snom) for other phone types, including conference, DECT, touchscreen and other SIP phones.
Organizations with fewer than 400 employees and operations within Italy, the U.K. and Spain should consider Digium's Switchvox solution if they are highly price-sensitive and are looking for basic UC functionality. While Switchvox is better-suited for single-site organizations, the solution does have a limited ability to support IP phone users at remote locations.
- The Switchvox solution is very price-competitive and can effectively meet some small organizations' needs for basic UC functionality (voice, presence/IM, reporting, mobility and call queues) because the simple pricing structure extends features to all users versus having to pay a per-user license fee.
- Switchvox can be implemented out of the box, with minimal configuration requirements and with minimal time. Additionally, the Switchvox 355 includes a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) controller with mirrored drives and redundant power supplies.
- Digium added three handsets to its portfolio to help decrease the dependence on third parties for a full communications solution. The release of Digium's three phones in April, 2012 is a positive move that has the potential to improve the integration of Switchvox and decrease the cost/time associated with acquiring phone feature packs to hook into third-party devices. Additionally, the expanded portfolio provides resellers with more revenue opportunities and better product margins.
- Digium has a loyal partner community and has developed effective lead generation and training to support its partner base. Digium utilizes Web-based programs to educate and train partners. Furthermore, video programming is available for partners to host on their websites to help promote Switchvox.
- Switchvox features graphical user interface (GUI) translations for British English, Castilian Spanish and Italian, and it offers sound packs to allow the phone experience to be localized to a specific country. Switchvox, however, does not yet have language support capabilities, training resources and channel partners across all European countries, so customers should ensure necessary localization requirements before implementation.
- Although Digium has added phones to its product portfolio, the company does not yet offer a total communications solution with a full suite of endpoints or networking equipment (switches or routers) that some organizations might desire. Polycom or Snom phones are still required to support users looking for advanced feature phones (phones with a touchscreen or color display), wireless, conferencing or softphones. The lack of full in-house offerings means some customers will look to multiple providers (which can increase the cost and complexity) for their communications solution.
- While Switchvox has some nice features that are well-designed for many SMBs, the solution has some functionality limitations that might be incompatible for an organization with specific customization requirements. Switchvox is positioned to support up to 400 users, so it is not ideally suited for organizations possibly growing beyond 400 seats. Additionally, Switchvox does not support centralized networking and administration. This means sites are administered individually as opposed to centrally, which can pose a management burden on IT resources.
- Switchvox does not offer Web conferencing or videoconferencing functionality. End users desiring these capabilities will have to integrate third-party solutions.
- Cold spare redundancy is an extra-cost option available for the Switchvox 65 and 305 models.
Microsoft positions Lync 2010 for its premises-based UC offering in the 250-and-above-employee segment. The solution scales to 5,000 users in a single-server environment; an additional server is added for redundancy purposes. Microsoft primarily positions Office 365, Lync Online and Exchange Online in the under-250-employee market segment. However, for purposes of this evaluation, we are examining only Microsoft's premises-based offers.
Lync 2010, combined with Exchange, provides conferencing capabilities (audio, Web and video), IM/presence, email, voice mail and UM, as well as telephony functionality. In November 2011, Microsoft increased the conference size from 250 users to 1,000 users. In December 2011, mobile device support was expanded with the release of Lync for Mac 2011; Lync mobile client was released for iOS, Windows Phone and Android. Additionally, new third-party phones and compatibility with existing IP phones and room-based video systems are continually being rolled out. While Lync is typically implemented alongside an existing PBX solution, Microsoft is gaining referenceable accounts in which employees' direct inward dialing (DID) lines have been transitioned to Lync.
In July 2012, Microsoft announced Lync 2013, which extends Lync federation with Skype and offers enhanced server consolidation. Lync 2013 is expected to be generally available in January 2013. Microsoft positions Lync through a growing network of partners. The solution can be acquired directly through Microsoft or via partners. The offer is available as an end-user-owned solution, or as a managed or hosted solution.
Organizations with more than 250 employees should consider Lync plus Exchange 2010 if they currently rely on or have significant investments in Microsoft Office applications, and they have a mobile and collaboration-centric workforce. Organizations should ensure they have the required IT resources in place to integrate and manage the offering.
- Microsoft's installed base of email users and desktop applications provides the company with a broad reach across small and midsize organizations. This existing presence, combined with new marketing messages relating to UC, means Microsoft frequently registers as a UC bid contender in the 250-and-above-employee market segment.
- Microsoft's channel developments related to Lync are continually being modified to strengthen partners' capabilities and incentives in selling and supporting Lync. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Microsoft reorganized partner competencies and created a stand-alone Communications competency focused on Lync. Additionally, a Solution Incentive Program for Lync in which (implementation) partners earn incentives based on Lync license transactions was also created to reward partners involved in the Lync sales process. Additionally, Microsoft has in-depth European specific training (for example, TechEd Europe 2012) relating to Lync to enhance partners' capabilities and expertise.
- Microsoft's ability to offer midsize enterprises a gradual migration approach to UC adoption versus a rip-and-replace acquisition eliminates some of the risk associated with implementing Lync and broadens the appeal across organizations. Lync interoperates with most telephony solutions, which means organizations can retain and use their PBXs/voice over IP (VoIP) as desired and decommission the telephony solution when the organization is ready to transition to Lync for voice functionality.
- For organizations wanting to interoperate with Microsoft at the desktop, Microsoft's continual initiatives relating to new device (for example, mobile, SIP, DECT and IP phones) support and interoperability will encourage adoption and broaden Lync's appeal. The Lync mobile application is offered free (via Microsoft's application store) and is available on the iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, Android and other mobile devices.
- While Microsoft has gained some experience positioning Lync as a full-featured telephony replacement, in most instances, the Lync server resides in the communications environment alongside a PBX/IP-PBX. Some users rely on Lync, while others maintain a DID associated with the existing PBX. Overall, Microsoft is in an early phase of being considered as a full PBX replacement.
- Microsoft is focused primarily on a service-based UC approach (Office 365 and Lync Online) for the SMB market, as opposed to a premises-based approach (through Lync 2010). This strategy means that the architecture and positioning of Lync can be more applicable for larger organizations.
- Remote-site redundancy and failover are extra-cost options.
- Lync 2010 plus the Exchange offering requires more IT skills and resources to manage than many competitors' offerings. The high level of flexibility of the system can translate to a more complex integration (and, typically, a hybrid environment), which requires a greater budget for integration and dedicated IT resources. The cost and complexity associated with Lync do not make the solution suitable for organizations with significant IT resource constraints or with fewer than 250 users.
- Microsoft Lync functions best in environments with Windows-based PCs and Exchange Server for Outlook email.
- Organizations that do not have a volume licensing agreement with Microsoft will pay a higher incremental cost for the right to use Microsoft Lync.
To support the SMB market segment with UC capabilities, Mitel leverages the same Mitel Communications Director (MCD) software that large Mitel customers use. The software can run on traditional Mitel 3300 Controllers or industry standard servers, such as those from HP, Dell and IBM. In keeping with its established product architecture for deploying advanced applications, Mitel's UC functionality is accessed by users through the Mitel Applications Suite (MAS).
Included in MAS is Mitel Unified Communicator Advanced (UCA), a UC client for the desktop and mobile devices. UCA integrates presence, IM and audioconferencing, as well as Web and video collaboration with Mitel call control capabilities. As an option, Mitel extends UC capabilities to mobile workers on devices such as a BlackBerry, Android, iPhone and iPad. MCD and its associated components can be deployed either premises-based, hosted or cloud-based, or a combination of these three, as well as in a VMware virtualized environment.
Within the U.K., Mitel positions the Mitel 5000, a simplified package designed specifically to address smaller businesses (the 20- to 99-employee size segment). The Mitel 5000 features telephony and basic audioconferencing and messaging capabilities.
While the lower-priced Standard licensing package for use with MCD in a stand-alone configuration does not include redundancy or failover protection, the MCD Enterprise licensing package (geared for customers that require resiliency and high availability features with failover) includes redundancy.
SMB organizations should evaluate Mitel offerings if they are looking for the ability to run UC on industry standard servers or in a virtualized environment, or if they are seeking a viable UC suite from a single vendor or the option to interoperate with Microsoft Lync.
- Mitel's increased focus on the 100- to 2,500-user market during the past 18 months has been improving the company's ability to be more responsive to the requirements of the SMB market. Additionally, as part of Mitel's go-to-market approach, the company is providing cost-effective UC pricing bundles for this segment.
- Mitel's support for a virtualized environment can streamline communications infrastructure costs, simplify the implementation and reduce ongoing operating costs.
- Mitel's formerly lackluster financial performance has improved during the past two years. According to Gartner's financial rating tool, Mitel has a Positive financial rating, which indicates the company has viability in the SMB UC market.
- Mitel has had success offering hosted and managed services (via partnerships) in Europe.
- Licensing for the MAS and MCD software streams as well as for the UC client can be confusing. However, in July 2012, Mitel introduced a bundled alternative (the Virtual UC Business Bundle) for up to 250 users that combines the MAS and MCD components in a VMware environment. The combination is less expensive than the a la carte model and facilitates a more simplified ordering process. The pricing for UC client licenses will continue to be based on the total number deployed.
- Mitel is not currently viewed as a leading European UC provider but instead is viewed as a telephony provider with a European presence. Mitel will need to continue marketing efforts to grow its perception as a UC provider with European expertise to increase its consideration rate across the European SMB UC market.
- Prospects should confirm Mitel channel partner references match their UC and geographical requirements, and they should verify that support personnel have been trained and certified on current product releases.
NEC offers three UC solutions for the SMB market. The first is the UC Desktop Suite, which runs on the Univerge SV8100. The solution is ideally suited for organizations with between 20 and 100 users. NEC's Business ConneCT (BCT) UC solution is positioned for organizations with more than 50 users (and can scale to thousands of users) in EMEA. The third offering is the UC for Business (UCB), which is predominantly deployed outside of EMEA but is available in the U.K., with a "sweet spot" supporting between 20 and 100 users. Both BCT and UCB support virtualization (UCB v.6.1, released in March 2012, now offers support for virtualization). Both the BCT and UCB solutions are preloaded and preconfigured to operate on NEC's Univerge SV8000 Series Communication Servers.
Gartner has dropped the Univerge Sphericall UC software solution (now Univerge 3C) from coverage within this MarketScope evaluation, as the marketing and positioning of it is increasingly focused on the large-enterprise segment.
Organizations should consider NEC if they are part of one of the key vertical markets NEC addresses, and they are looking for affordable UC functionality.
- Creative solution packaging encourages UC usage across NEC's customer base. Every Univerge SV8100 (NEC's most popular SMB telephony platform) is UC-enabled with four free licenses of the UC Desktop Suite at the time of the sale. Extending UC to additional users simply involves turning on licenses for additional users.
- NEC has a strong vertical market focus; its solutions within the healthcare, education, government and hospitality segments offer specific UC applications tailored for these specific industries. NEC also has internal vertical leads focused on positioning and implementation of these solutions within industry segments.
- NEC has retained significant portions of the historic Philips telephony business. This retention has allowed NEC to possess a better understanding of European SMBs' needs than it would have had without this legacy business. Furthermore, this provides NEC an opportunity to convert the installed base of telephony users to the NEC UC portfolio.
- BCT provides operator/attendant and contact center functionality, in addition to UC functionality in an all-in-one server. This integration enables flexibility for users to handle operator tasks (such as connecting calls and locating staff) with other roles.
- NEC's offerings can be best for single-region organizations as opposed to multinational SMBs, because the products offered, the customer experience and channel support will be different by region, which can create planning and integration challenges. NEC does, however, offer a Netlink feature on the Univerge SV8100 platform to allow for a single-system telephony image (and shared presence information) across regions.
- Some applications and management interfaces could use additional integration to be more intuitive for users. For example, for conferencing functionality, users must work with a separate interface to reserve a conference bridge. Integration related to conferencing is expected to occur within the next 12 months.
- Redundancy and failover capabilities are extra-cost options for NEC's SMB UC solutions.
- NEC's UC solutions do not have as much UC recognition as many of its European competitors, and NEC isn't frequently in the UC consideration set. Therefore, it's important to validate that channel partners will have the appropriate expertise for UC (versus telephony) implementations.
- NEC's support capabilities in Western Europe should be examined by prospective SMB customers. For NEC heritage solutions, customers and channel partners on some occasions have to go through Japan for advanced implementation or support issues, which can be inconvenient and more time-intensive for Europe-based customers.
ShoreTel competes in the UC market with an appliance-based distributed UC architecture. The Linux-based Service Appliance 100 and 400 units enable IM, conferencing and desktop collaboration, which are functionally integrated with ShoreTel's telephony switches. The appliances operate without hard drives and instead use flash memory. The individual appliances operate independently but are collectively managed and configured together within a single ShoreTel Director Web application that scales to 20,000 users. The ShoreTel Director Web administration application is supported on Windows Servers and via virtualization with VMware 5. User administration integrates IP telephony, UM, IM, conferencing and collaboration, video and mobility.
The ShoreTel 13 release, an update to the ShoreTel 12, was released in July 2012. ShoreTel 13 provides enhanced SIP trunking capabilities, video connectivity with room-based systems via the advanced video coding (AVC)/scalable video coding (SVC) codecs supported by Polycom, LifeSize and other providers. ShoreTel also now offers a remote monitoring service that monitors production deployments. As part of the rollout, ShoreTel increased conferencing capacity with the Service Appliance 400 that supports 2,000 IM users, 200 audio users and 100 Web/desktop collaboration users, with up to five service appliances supported in an organization. Additionally, voice/Web recordings are now downloadable to PCs.
ShoreTel has had some success expanding its business across Western Europe (telephony shipments grew an estimated 38% in 2011), although the company still has a small presence in the region overall (ShoreTel has less than 1% telephony market share in Western Europe).
ShoreTel continues to focus on mobility developments stemming from its fourth quarter of 2010 acquisition of Agito Networks and initiatives relating to better integration to mobile devices (Android), and it remains platform-agnostic via connectivity from the ShoreTel Mobility Router to competitors' SIP-based telephony platforms.
In March 2012, ShoreTel completed the acquisition of hosted telephony provider, M5 Networks. The move positions ShoreTel to address the voice as-a-service market opportunities through M5's expertise delivery capabilities versus focusing on internal service capability developments. M5 now operates as ShoreTel's Cloud Division and announced the availability of ShoreTel Mobility for cloud-based customers in July 2012.
SMBs should consider ShoreTel if they are looking for a reliable UC solution in which ease of use, ease of management and ease of implementation are more important than breadth and depth of features, or if they have a distributed office setting.
- ShoreTel has designed a solution that effectively addresses IT-constrained organizations' needs for easy-to-use, easy-to-manage and easy-to-implement communications solutions. The user, administration and implementation simplicity, as well as the inherently redundant architecture of ShoreTel 13, is well-suited for most SMBs' UC needs and resource limitations. ShoreTel's architecture offers the SMB market the same inherent redundancy that is used by large customers.
- ShoreTel's focus on customer satisfaction (which is tracked through Net Promoter scores) through the implementation cycle and beyond translates to generally positive customer experiences with ShoreTel UC. Furthermore, the company has effective practices in place to bring customer feedback into the business to resolve issues.
- While ShoreTel has fewer marketing resources and a smaller footprint than many of its SMB UC competitors, the company is gaining recognition as an SMB UC provider and is consistently growing market share across Western Europe, despite challenging economic conditions. Approximately 50% of ShoreTel's EMEA sales are in the U.K., with ShoreTel consistently making positive strides and expanding its channel footprint on a quarterly basis. In 2011, ShoreTel added 25 value-added resellers (VARs) in Western Europe. In 2012, the company is focusing on strategic channel programs in Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands.
- While ShoreTel displays consistent traction in terms of gaining new customer accounts and growing revenue across Europe, ShoreTel's European UC business remains small (ShoreTel has less than 1% Western European telephony market share). Overall, ShoreTel has limited sales and support coverage across the region. A large percentage of ShoreTel's European business relates to North America-headquartered organizations with branch office sites in Europe. As part of the early evaluation process, local support capabilities should be considered.
- Limited resources: Compared with many organizations featured in the MarketScope evaluation, ShoreTel is an organization with more limited resources. In 2011, ShoreTel generated revenue of $220 million and had approximately 700 employees. While ShoreTel continues to exhibit solid revenue and user installed base momentum, the company does have a more limited geographic footprint (12% of ShoreTel's revenue was generated through international sales in 2011 — mostly to the U.K.) and more limited sales, marketing, product development and support resources than some other competitors.
- While ShoreTel includes most features that SMBs desire in an all-in-one package, some capabilities are not as advanced as other competitors' offerings. For example, ShoreTel's contact center capabilities are not as robust as some competitive offerings, and ShoreTel doesn't currently offer its own multipoint video functionality. Additionally, the appliance architecture can be less desirable for SMBs with larger, centralized environments.
Siemens Enterprise Communications (SEN) is 51% owned by private equity firm, The Gores Group, and 49% by Siemens AG after a 2008 joint venture. SEN sells end-to-end enterprise communications solutions comprising UC solutions and business applications, as well as related managed, professional and life cycle services. The portfolio also includes network infrastructure and security systems from Enterasys Networks. OpenScape Office is SEN's UC platform for the SMB market. The solution supports voice, voice mail, UM, mobility, IM/presence and contact center, as well as multiparty Web and video collaboration functionality, and a suite of collaboration applications for SEN's OpenStage phones.
SEN has made several enhancements to OpenScape Office V3 in recent releases (R2 and R3), including the addition of OpenScape Web Collaboration into the desktop user interface. Additionally, R2 brings support of mixed multisite networking; the MX, HX, and LX platforms can be networked together, which allows customers more flexible deployment options. Furthermore, SEN expanded mobile client capabilities, including support for the iOS and Android operating systems, and now supports a broader range of smartphones and tablets. The major enhancements of R3 include UC support and integration with VMware's Zimbra Collaboration Server and enhanced support for Microsoft Office 365.
Three versions are available:
- OpenScape Office MX is an all-in-one UC solution in a single cabinet with preinstalled software. It can be deployed as a stand-alone system or as a gateway for OpenScape Office LX. The MX is targeted to organizations with up to 150 users.
- OpenScape Office LX is the server-based UC solution that can be operated on a Linux server, independent of the platform. OpenScape Office LX supports up to 500 users in a single server and can run in a virtualized VMware vSphere environment.
- OpenScape Office HX UC enables the older HiPath 3000, and it supports TDM, analog and IP phones for 50 to 500 users
The three OpenScape Office versions can be networked in any configuration for up to 1,000 users.
SMBs should evaluate SEN's OpenScape Office if they are looking for an established provider for requirements that include a single-site or multisite all-in-one UC offering with Web-based functionality and the option to run in a virtualized environment.
- SEN introduced promotional programs/marketing incentives to increase the adoption of UC functionality and make it easier for its voice customers to transition to UC. In 2011, SEN started offering MX and LX customers free license upgrades to attain full access to UC features.
- SEN has a significant presence across Western Europe, with a large base of channel partners and an impressive installed base of SMB customers across the region.
- Both OpenScape Office MX and LX are built as complete all-in-one solutions with broad UC capabilities; the LX supports integration with a large range of third-party software developers.
- OpenScape Office receives positive scores for ease of implementation. Built-in wizards make OpenScape Office relatively straightforward to configure and deploy.
- While OpenScape Office is a very versatile UC platform, prospects should compare its multiyear TCO with other UC solutions for the SMB market and evaluate the competitive cost-effectiveness of OpenScape Office. The solution includes UC functionality, which may not be required in all organizations with fewer than 100 users.
- Redundancy and failover capabilities are extra-cost options available for Siemens OpenScape Office.
- SEN has a large installed base of telephony customers across Europe. The company needs to further invest in marketing and UC brand awareness campaigns to position the company as a UC and software provider and migrate its installed base of customers toward UC.
We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor.
Gartner's MarketScope provides specific guidance for users who are deploying, or have deployed, products or services. A Gartner MarketScope rating does not imply that the vendor meets all, few or none of the evaluation criteria. The Gartner MarketScope evaluation is based on a weighted evaluation of a vendor's products in comparison with the evaluation criteria. Consider Gartner's criteria as they apply to your specific requirements. Contact Gartner to discuss how this evaluation may affect your specific needs.
In the below table, the various ratings are defined:
MarketScope Rating Framework
Is viewed as a provider of strategic products, services or solutions:
- Customers: Continue with planned investments.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor a strong choice for strategic investments.
Demonstrates strength in specific areas, but execution in one or more areas may still be developing or inconsistent with other areas of performance:
- Customers: Continue planned investments.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor a viable choice for strategic or tactical investments, while planning for known limitations.
Shows potential in specific areas; however, execution is inconsistent:
- Customers: Consider the short- and long-term impact of possible changes in status.
- Potential customers: Plan for and be aware of issues and opportunities related to the evolution and maturity of this vendor.
Faces challenges in one or more areas.
- Customers: Understand challenges in relevant areas, and develop contingency plans based on risk tolerance and possible business impact.
- Potential customers: Account for the vendor's challenges as part of due diligence.
Has difficulty responding to problems in multiple areas.
- Customers: Execute risk mitigation plans and contingency options.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor only for tactical investment with short-term, rapid payback.