Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications

31 July 2013 ID:G00251797
Analyst(s): Bern Elliot, Steve Blood


The enterprise UC market continued to mature over the past 12 months and is now considered by Gartner to be entering the early mainstream adoption phase. Products and best practices both for deployment and increasing end-user adoption will continue to mature during the next several years.

Market Definition/Description

The primary goal of unified communications (UC) is to improve user productivity and to enhance business processes. Gartner defines UC products (equipment, software and services) as those that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communications methods to obtain that goal. This can include the control, management and integration of these methods. UC products integrate communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.

UC offers the ability to significantly improve how individuals, groups and companies interact and perform. The UC products may be composed of a single vendor (stand-alone) suite, or customers may deploy a portfolio of integrated applications and platforms spanning multiple vendors. In many cases, UC is deployed to extend and add functionality to established communications investments.

UC products are used by people to facilitate personal communications and by enterprises to support workgroup and collaborative communications and business workflows. Some UC products may extend UC outside company boundaries to enhance communications among organizations, support interactions among large public communities or for personal communications. UC applications are increasingly being integrated or offered in concert with collaboration applications to form unified communications and collaboration (UCC) and, in some cases, are being integrated with business applications and workflows, something Gartner calls communications-enabled business processes (CEBPs).

It is useful to divide UC into six broad communications product areas:

  • Voice and telephony — This area includes fixed, mobile and soft telephony, as well as the evolution of PBXs and IP PBXs. This category includes options for voice and video that bypass traditional connectivity methods, such as direct Internet-based connections.
  • Conferencing — This area includes voice (audio) conferencing, videoconferencing, Web conferencing that includes document and application sharing capabilities, and various forms of unified conferencing capabilities.
  • Messaging — This area includes email, which has become an indispensable business tool, voice mail and various approaches to unified messaging (UM).
  • Presence and IM — These will play an increasingly central role in the next generation of communications. Presence services, in particular, are expanding to enable the aggregation and publication of presence and location information between (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 clients for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as specialized clients embedded within business applications.
  • Communications-enabled applications — This broad group of applications has directly integrated communications functionality. Key application areas include collaboration applications, contact center applications, notification applications, and consolidated administration, reporting and/or analytics tools. Eventually, other applications that support business processes will be communications-enabled; these might include integrating UC with hospital applications to improve doctor-nurse transaction processing workflows or to improve doctor-doctor collaboration activities, or adding communications to purchasing/order processing applications to improve the accuracy and speed of those processes. When business applications are integrated with communications applications to improve operations, Gartner calls them CEBPs.

The stakes for vendors in the enterprise UC market are exceedingly high and, in some cases, existential. The stakes for enterprise decision makers are also high due to the significant costs, visibility and business impacts of their choice. Five UC characteristics will have an important effect on the success of a UC product and the satisfaction of users:

  • User experience (UX) — The quality and effectiveness of the overall user experience (UX) across all devices will heavily influence the effectiveness of the solution, its adoption rate and, ultimately, enterprise productivity. While consolidated administration and management are important characteristics of a successful solution, it is the high-quality end-user experience that will drive adoption and productivity.
  • Mobility — User expectations of how UC solutions leverage mobility continue to escalate. In addition to demanding full UC functionality on mobile devices, users are starting to expect mobile devices to be integrated with desktop devices to allow for a more powerful work environment and to integrate UC with mobile consumer applications. In this year's Magic Quadrant evaluation, we again place extra weight on mobility as it remains a key differentiator and requirement.
  • Interoperability — Enterprises wish to avoid "closed gardens" and vendor lock-in, while enabling intercompany B2B, business-to-partner (B2P) and business-to-consumer (B2C) federation. Additionally, many enterprises will find their needs best served by using several vendors, either because of legacy investments or to enable a best-of-breed configuration. This research considers how vendors address these critical emerging interoperability requirements.
  • Cloud and hybrid — Integration of on-premises UC with cloud and hybrid UC services continues to play an increasingly important role as these options mature. While these options are considered in this Magic Quadrant's evaluations, "Critical Capabilities for Unified Communications" provides a more specific review of these capabilities.
  • Broad solution appeal — Successful UC solutions must be attractive to a broad and diverse audience of enterprise decision influencers. In addition to the end users, enterprise decision influencers span such diverse groups as IT, telecom, data communications, the audio-visual video group and members of the executive suite.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications
Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications

Source: Gartner (July 2013)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Aastra Technologies

Aastra Technologies is using BluStar as a client to integrate UC functionalities with its multiple call managers. MX-One is the primary enterprise call manager and is sold across markets as Aastra's UC offering; however, in addition to MX-One, BluStar also supports functions on other Aastra telephony platforms, including Aastra 5000 and Aastra Clearspan which are offered in specific verticals and regions. All UC applications now operate with VMware. Additionally, these include the high availability (HA) and fault tolerance (FT) functions, enabling warm or hot standby redundancy. The BluStar client operates on PCs, iPads and iPhones, and has added additional video capabilities this year.

Consider the Aastra suite if your organization is primarily focused on lower-cost telephony and UC functionality, and you are located in a region with Aastra partners. Enterprises should also ensure that the UC functionality they need is included, since some functions (such as Web conferencing) are not offered. Enterprises wishing to migrate existing Aastra telephony platforms toward UC should understand how their current environment fits the broader Aastra direction, including the BluStar client.

  • Aastra is able to leverage its installed base, especially in Europe, and generally has a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) offering relative to other vendors.
  • Aastra leverages open standards to support integration with other vendors' UC solutions and a broad range of SIP endpoints.
  • Although Aastra is adding new channel partners, the market share for its UC product in key markets such as North America remains limited. Some partners may have limited experience supporting UC functionality.
  • Aastra faces several financial challenges during the next few years. First, it must deal with lagging economies in countries where it has a significant presence, such as Italy, Spain, Benelux and the Nordic region. Second, Gartner believes that Aastra's strategy of growth through acquisition requires relatively larger R&D expenses to integrate the varied solutions.


The OpenTouch Suite is a fully unified and integrated UC suite. In addition, elements of the UC portfolio are offered separately for scaling purposes or when desired as stand-alone solutions. Elements include OpenTouch Multimedia Services, providing the modular communications application capabilities, and the OmniPCX Enterprise (OXE) Communication Server for analog, digital and SIP-based telephony functions. The suite operates on virtualized servers and supports a range of hard, soft and SIP-based clients, the functionality of which is also available on a range of mobile devices. Among other improvements, in the past year, Alcatel has significantly expanded its video capabilities, its mobile UC functionality support and the flexibility of transparently moving conversations (Session Shift) between devices in real time. Additionally, Alcatel-Lucent has increased the ability to overlay OpenTouch on third-party switches, providing a migration path for new customers.

Evaluate the OpenTouch Suite if you are looking for a complete software UC suite; however, ensure that Alcatel-Lucent has sufficient service and support presence in your market.

  • OpenTouch offers a full multiparty, multidevice and multimedia UC suite with a competitive TCO that can operate as a complete solution, or as part of a multivendor UC solution.
  • The vendor's enterprise products can span provider and enterprise physical or virtual environments, which may prove useful for cloud-based, on-premises and hybrid offerings, and for penetrating existing markets where its on-premises sales are not well-established (for example, in the North American market).
  • While Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has benefited from stability in its management team, and the Enterprise division itself is profitable, the commitment by the parent company is again under question as it is now managed as a subset of the Focused Business segment, diluting the visibility of Enterprise as a core and strategic business unit.
  • Alcatel-Lucent's overall financial performance reflects the challenging environment we have seen in the past 12 months (declining revenue, reduced gross and operating profitability, and negative cash flows). To its credit, Alcatel-Lucent has refinanced its debt and is undertaking a restructuring program with the goal of reducing costs by €1.25 billion by the end of 2013. Still, the company's financial progress bears monitoring because it has (as of 31 March 2013) total debt of about €6.7 billion and its credit metrics remain challenged as compared to its peers.


The Avaya UC solution for midsize to large enterprises is based on the Avaya Aura solution set and includes several client and application integration options. Key Aura components include Session Manager, a full conferencing suite with both Web and video in addition to audio, several messaging options, and avatar-based collaboration and presence services. Application integration with business applications is supported via the Agile Communication Environment (ACE) Toolkit, the Avaya DevConnect partner option and, more recently, via the introduction of the Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment. Avaya is extending its cloud capabilities and offers leading contact center solutions that leverage its UC solution. During the past year, Avaya has expanded its portfolio, continued to improve the integration across its elements and simplified its pricing model.

Consider Avaya Aura if you need to bring together heterogeneous environments (systems, services and devices) or have significant investments in Avaya that you wish to migrate toward a next-generation UC solution.

  • Telephony and contact center remain central elements in Avaya's portfolio: Avaya's strength and brand recognition in this area help it retain market visibility while it continues to strengthen its overall UC portfolio.
  • Avaya continues to improve its offerings and ability to compete in the evolving software and cloud markets.
  • The vendor is expanding its portfolio in key ways, including Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment for enabling a broader ecosystem of partner applications and Aura Cloud Enablement for a partner-led cloud offering.
  • Avaya's integration capabilities have been expanded, allowing for stronger multivendor UC integration options, including integration with Microsoft Lync.
  • Avaya receives mixed to unfavorable ratings from some customers for channel partner support. As the vendor increasingly moves to an indirect channel model, it will need to improve its channel presales and postimplementation support to prevent lags in addressing customer issues and concerns.
  • Avaya must continue to demonstrate that it has increased adoption and market momentum for its broader UC portfolio, rather than solely for its telephony and contact center solutions.
  • The vendor must execute on its plans to consolidate its Flare Experience, Scopia, Aura Conferencing and Avaya one-X clients across the various fixed and mobile platforms to improve the consistency of the user experience and quality.
  • Avaya is challenged from a revenue standpoint, with revenue declines in each of the last four quarters. Margins have remained relatively stable, as the vendor has reduced costs to maintain profitability ratios. Debt levels remain high at $6.1 billion, but Avaya did successfully refinance its debt to push out debt maturities to a later period.


Cisco offers a full UC suite, as well as a broad range of additional communications functions. Key parts of the UC suite include Cisco Unified Communications Manager; Cisco Jabber, which includes the desktop client; Cisco Unity Connection; Cisco WebEx, which is now also available as an on-premises server; multiple video options; and a broad range of fixed and mobile client and device options. The vendor offers significant portions of its software on VMware, which can now operate on both the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and other qualified servers. Cisco addresses email requirements via integrations with Exchange, Gmail and Zimbra. It offers several virtual desktop integration (client virtualization) options, and offers additional integrated communications and collaboration functionality, including its contact center, Cisco WebEx conferencing and WebEx Social (formerly Quad) products. The vendor leverages its UC software into a cloud portfolio branded Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), which allows Cisco HCS partners to create UC as a service (UCaaS) offerings. The vendor made progress this year in simplifying and unifying its pricing model and massive communications portfolio. Cisco also offers a useful service to assist enterprises in measuring and increasing end-user adoption of UC tools, and in developing best practices called Collaboration Change Management Services (CCMS).

Evaluate the Cisco UC solutions when you are committed to using a comprehensive networking solution that includes the UCC suite. Cisco is also attractive for large and multinational corporations requiring strong voice and video capabilities, as well as for firms that require full UC client support on leading mobile platforms.

  • Cisco offers a full UC suite with strong, globally scalable support for IM/presence, video, telephony and multiple conferencing options. Additionally, full UC functionality is available on leading mobile platforms.
  • Prime Collaboration offers detailed monitoring, diagnostics and change management for voice over Internet Protocol and video in a single platform with a scale to 150,000 endpoints.
  • Cisco's large data infrastructure client base, along with its strong global channel, services and system integration (SI) partners, position it well within enterprise UC buying and decision-making groups, including many IT and operations departments.
  • Through carrier and service provider partners, Cisco is advancing attractive hybrid on-premises and cloud options. HCS is based on the same software as Cisco's on-premises offering, and both support the same Jabber client. Additionally, Cisco has agreements for transferring licenses from on-premises to hosted environments.
  • Clients report that elements of Cisco's portfolio remain complex to understand and manage. One effect of the complexity is that obtaining clear configuration and price quotes can be difficult, and understanding the various Jabber client and WebEx integration options can be challenging.
  • Gartner clients regularly report that they are pressured to use Cisco data communications network infrastructure, and, in some cases, even the Cisco data center solution (UCS), to achieve an optimal UC deployment.
  • Cisco's Unified Workspace Licensing (CUWL) is a useful package to profile user requirements. It offers attractive discounting, compared with buying UC components separately. However, it's important to size requirements accurately based on user needs. Unless you have a clear road map for CUWL as your primary UC solution, Gartner advises against the five-year Cisco Unified Communications Software Subscription term, because the three-year term better fits most enterprises' planning and upgrade cycles.
  • The vendor's large networking business remains a hardware-based business model, which impacts the ability of Cisco Collaboration Technology Group to compete as a software application provider.


Headquartered in China, Huawei offers a broad portfolio of communications products and services. It completed the reorganization of its networking division and is now increasing its marketing focus, including increasing its partner sales and support channels globally. The Huawei eSpace Unified Communications solution is made up of a broad set of applications, telephony, presence, messaging, multiple conferencing options, video, collaboration and contact center. The vendor has expanded its mobile client offerings and has improved the usability of its soft clients. The solution runs on Huawei servers, standard servers and virtualized platforms. eSpace also offers software APIs for integration with business applications and a Microsoft Lync integration.

Consider Huawei when looking for a comprehensive networking solution that includes the UCC functionality. Ensure that any needed local support is available. Huawei's strongest areas of support are China and some countries in the Asia/Pacific region, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and South America. Support in other regions should be validated.

  • Huawei had $35 billion in revenue in 2012, is continuing its rapid growth, has a large base of clients, and can leverage its strengths in the network and server business. Its solutions span the carrier, large enterprise and small or midsize business (SMB) markets across the globe.
  • The vendor continues to grow its enterprise network and mobile device divisions and presence. It has also made progress in expanding its presence and partners in EMEA and North America.
  • The capabilities of Huawei's broad communications portfolio and its support model can be challenging to understand. This difficulty can be compounded by cultural differences that occur for non-Chinese-based organizations, because most global regions are managed directly from China. Engagements requiring extensive professional services can be particularly challenging.
  • Huawei faces political, trade and intellectual property trust issues in some regions. Additionally, as a private company, the financial transparency makes deeper analysis difficult. To succeed in those markets, the vendor needs to increase the confidence of decision makers globally.


IBM's Unified Communications core solution is based on IBM Sametime, which offers presence and IM, audioconferencing, videoconferencing, Web conferencing, and peer-to-peer voice and video. IBM also offers mobile clients on all the leading devices/OSs. Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT) provides a telephony middleware layer that can connect to peer PBX or IP PBX providers, such as Siemens and Avaya. IBM Sametime desktop video and videoconferences can operate with meeting room systems through partnerships with leading video providers, such as Cisco and Polycom. IBM approaches UC from a collaborative and social perspective; this includes IBM Social Business Enterprise Strategy Accelerator and IBM Connections Suite, which bundles the Sametime UC platform with IBM's Social, Analytics and Content Management capabilities into one offering. Similarly, IBM has a range of cloud-based UC and social offerings that fall under its SmartCloud brand. For example, IBM SmartCloud Unified Communications Dedicated is a private cloud offering for UC as a service.

Enterprises should consider IBM Sametime products if they have investments in IBM products or professional services that they wish to leverage or if they are committed to the IBM social business strategy. Enterprises that must operate in multivendor telephony environments and want a consolidated UC client should consider Sametime Unified Telephony. Enterprises that want to leverage Sametime for use with a standards-compliant telephony server should consider the Sametime Unified Telephony Lite client option.

  • IBM has leading social software, Web conferencing, portals, business analytics and content management solutions. Together, these provide IBM the opportunity to integrate its UC solutions into a broad range of environments.
  • The IBM brand, partner network and professional services organization assist Sametime in obtaining account visibility and marketing presence in executing custom integrations, and for delivering vertical-specific solutions.
  • IBM's vision for collaboration and social business, as well as its emerging cloud options, provide the vendor with a direction for a next generation of UCC.
  • IBM's UC deployments, especially those involving telephony, remain limited. IBM Notes email has not generated significant Sametime telephony pull-through, and the plan to integrate on-premises Sametime with cloud-based IBM SmartCloud for Social Business has not yet established itself as an attractive offer.
  • Although Sametime's PBX-neutral strategy has good points, the leading UC suites in the market all now incorporate fully integrated telephony functionality. This leaves IBM at a disadvantage with enterprises that want to consider single-vendor solutions for the entire suite. In addition, most of IBM's Sametime telephony partners now offer competing full UC suites.

Interactive Intelligence

Interactive Intelligence's Customer Interaction Center (CIC) is an all-in-one software solution that offers both contact center and UC functionality. The solution is particularly attractive to enterprises focused on contact centers that also wish to offer integrated UC functionality enterprisewide for back-office and support functions. The solution includes telephony, audioconferencing, UM, rich presence with IM, and a range of client and device options. The solution also integrates with leading third-party Web conferencing and video solutions, as well as with Microsoft and IBM UC environments. The solution is offered on-premises, in a cloud configuration or as a managed service. Interactive Intelligence also offers an integrated, but stand-alone, business process automation solution called Interaction Process Automation (IPA).

Enterprises should evaluate the CIC solution when seeking to integrate UC with contact center functionality, or when looking to augment Microsoft Lync with telephony or contact center functionality.

  • Interactive Intelligence has shown strong and consistent financial growth during the past 10 years, and has an established record for delivering successful products and innovations in the UC market.
  • The vendor has seen success with its innovative and attractive hybrid offering, which allows enterprises to convert on-premises deployments to cloud-based deployments, or vice versa. This flexibility eliminates many perceived risks of either approach, and can be conducted with minimal disruption to users.
  • The vendor and its UC product have limited visibility in a market that is increasingly dominated by larger vendors. Additionally, availability in some global regions, such as parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, may be limited.
  • CIC is best-suited for enterprises with the contact center as their primary need, but that also wish to have integrated, enterprisewide UC.
  • The CIC mobile clients are limited and based on mobile Web access, rather than on more capable native clients.


The Lync 2013 release offers several significant improvements over its Lync 2010 predecessor, including broader mobile client capabilities, improvements to its telephony and video functionality, and partial Skype integration. Lync offers a full suite of UC functionality that Microsoft continues to improve with each release. Lync integrates with Office, SharePoint and Exchange, and the Lync partner ecosystem continues to grow at a rapid pace. For cloud delivery, Microsoft offers Lync Online as part of the Office 365 suite. Lync Online allows users access to a subset of the on-premises Lync solution, notably with limited external telephony and video access.

Enterprises that wish to align closely with the Microsoft Office product family should consider the Lync solution and understand how it might change their business processes and worker productivity. Enterprises considering deploying Lync telephony and video should understand the limitations and infrastructure requirements, how they will support branch offices, and how they will obtain global third-party support if needed.

  • Microsoft Lync continues to make significant gains in the market and is attractive to a broad range of enterprises. In many cases, it is initially deployed for the IM, presence and Web conferencing functionality, with gradual incremental deployments of telephony and video added as follow-on phased deployments for specifically targeted groups or regions.
  • Microsoft integration of Skype with Lync will enable an attractive model for B2B and business-to-consumer collaboration.
  • Companies report that, once deployed, Lync functions can be readily integrated into business processes and applications, providing new, different and effective ways to perform tasks. Often, these new functions are achieved by deploying Lync enhancements from a growing list of ecosystem partners.
  • Few IT managers report that they have completely eliminated their PBXs in Lync implementations. Typically, Lync telephony is deployed for a subset of employees, while IM/presence and Web conferencing is deployed across the broader employee base. This scenario, coupled with an unclear Lync Online telephony road map and weak branch survivability offering, suggests that most enterprises should plan for a hybrid Lync plus traditional IP PBX deployment.
  • While some Microsoft partners are starting to offer a comprehensive one-stop shop for all Lync-related equipment and services, these offers are still emerging. As a result, Gartner clients often report that multiple partners are required to obtain a complete deployment, which can be difficult (e.g., different partners for telephones, gateways, servers and video multiprotocol conferencing units [MCUs]). This difficulty also extends to identifying, evaluating and obtaining pricing from Lync service and support.
  • Some enterprises express concern that Microsoft's bundling, combined with proprietary protocols, will leave them locked in a closed circle of choices and few non-Microsoft options in the future. Bundling includes Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, Office, Skype and Yammer.


Mitel has recently rebranded its offerings, simplifying how customers understand and buy the solutions. Mitel now delivers three solutions: MiVoice, which offers call control platforms and endpoints (formerly Mitel Communications Director, UC360 and Mitel Desktop); MiCollab, which delivers all UC functionality that enables collaboration, including UC client; presence; IM; audio, Web and video collaboration; and UM (formerly Mitel Applications Suite, Unified Communicator Advanced, Mitel Collaboration Advanced and NuPoint UM); and MiContact Center, which provides a contact center solution. All three solutions can be deployed in various cloud configurations — private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud — using a single software stream. The vendor was an early leader in both UC server and client virtualization. The solutions support integrated provisioning, administration and maintenance functionality.

Organizations looking for a fully integrated UC approach at an attractive price, those looking for flexible cloud options and those evaluating telephony communications functionality to integrate with Microsoft Lync should evaluate Mitel's UC solution.

  • Mitel offers a mature and comprehensive UC software suite. It is based on software that can be distributed or centralized in a data center. The solution runs on industry-standard servers, and is certified on VMware virtualized environments. The same solution is also available as a cloud offering. Mitel is also offering a UC desktop that can run with multiple desktop virtualization options.
  • Mitel's product rebranding and bundling should make the solution more attractive to, and easier to sell into, the broader market.
  • The solution incorporates comprehensive single-point administration and capable mobile client options, including GPS location service integration.
  • Although Mitel has developed a strong product and market approach, in order to succeed, it must establish awareness of its new brand against strong competition, and must ensure that its channel partners are selling the full UC solution set.
  • Prospects should confirm that Mitel channel partner references match the architecture and geographical requirements that they intend to deploy. While the Mitel product works well in a data center configuration, not all channel partners have the skills needed to work with larger data center architectures.
  • Mitel's financial picture has improved since last year's Magic Quadrant research. While the vendor has posted revenue declines in each of the last three quarters, its profitability ratios are stable and cash from operations has improved in the last two quarters. Also, Mitel recently refinanced its outstanding debt, pushing debt repayments to February 2019.


NEC's Univerge 3C software offers a fully integrated, complete UC suite. It is based on a Web and service-oriented architecture (SOA), on open standards (SIP, XMPP) and centralized administration. The suite functionality encompasses telephony, video, all forms of conferencing, presence, IM and messaging. It includes multiple client options, such as hard phones, softphones and SIP phones, as well as a full set of mobile capabilities for a broad range of mobile devices. The broader NEC portfolio includes integrated support for contact centers and business application integration. Univerge 3C operates on VMware and on Microsoft Hyper-V Server virtualization software.

Consider the NEC Univerge 3C solution if you want a complete software UC suite based on SOA that can be extended with the broader portfolio offered by a major global telecommunications infrastructure provider.

  • NEC is a financially strong, global firm with an established UC sales and support channel in multiple regions.
  • The vendor has developed a forward-looking UCC architecture that includes a rich set of UC functions in a standards-based SOA environment, backed by a broad communications portfolio. The platform's virtualization capabilities and software architecture make it a good fit for data center environments, and the API and software development kits make it suitable for integration with business applications.
  • NEC's UC solutions have limited brand recognition, compared with the leading competitors in the North American and European markets; as a result, NEC is often not included for consideration in these markets. To succeed, the vendor needs to advance its brand marketing for Univerge 3C as a full UC suite.
  • Some of NEC's channel partners in the North American and European markets for the Univerge 3C product lack the experience and skills needed to sell and deliver this broader product. To succeed, NEC needs to continue to expand its partner training programs. Buyers interested in Univerge should contact NEC to ensure that they are aligned with a partner that has the needed competencies.


ShoreTel positions a UC portfolio in an appliance architecture that is particularly well-suited to distributed organizations. The solution is known for its simplicity of installation and administration. Survivability is provided via ShoreTel's N+1 switch failover capability; in this configuration, a switch can fail over to another switch anywhere in the network. UC services, such as IM, conferencing, application sharing and mobility, are provided by ShoreTel's Service Appliances and Mobility Router, integrated with its switch-based IP voice services. All switches and application appliances operate independently, but are configured from a single ShoreTel Director Web application. The ShoreTel Communicator desktop client provides integrated IP and UC applications for users, including peer-to-peer video and support for communications to room-based systems from strategic partners. The vendor supports its own IP phones and the ShoreTel Dock for iPad and iPhone users, as well as SIP phones, SIP trunking and a full set of mobile options. The vendor offers basic and advanced contact center functionality, as well as Google Gmail and Microsoft Exchange UM integrations.

In 2012, ShoreTel acquired M5 Networks, a UCaaS provider, now branded as ShoreTel Sky. The ShoreTel Sky solution is not integrated with the on-premises offering, although some functions, such as ShoreTel Mobility and ShoreTel Dock, are available for both.

Consider the ShoreTel offering if your company is a geographically distributed organization with multiple small or midsize locations and wants a cost-effective, basic set of UC functions, with a reputation for both simplicity and ease of use.

  • ShoreTel offers a full UC suite in a distributed appliance architecture. The enhancements in 2013 include new IM, conferencing and collaboration software, desktop docking stations for iPad and iPhone users, and support for smartphones and tablets.
  • The vendor continues to experience impressive above-industry-average market growth. While ShoreTel's international business makes up only 12% of overall sales, the vendor is demonstrating strong international revenue growth in EMEA and the Asia/Pacific region.
  • Users report high customer satisfaction because the solution is easy to use, has intuitive user and management interfaces, and has simple, transparent pricing and licensing structures.
  • Although ShoreTel is experiencing strong growth, it is a relatively small vendor, with $300 million in revenue in 2012, competing in a market increasingly dominated by the behemoths. This can make it difficult to gain visibility and sustain growth.
  • ShoreTel sales to large enterprises are primarily sold indirectly through its national and global account resellers program. Many of its other resellers are new to ShoreTel and new to UC, and so may not have experience with users' requirements in the broader UC market, nor with large enterprises.
  • The vendor does not have enterprise visibility outside the telecommunications area. This requires ShoreTel resellers to offer integrated solutions from HP and other networking and video equipment partners, making it difficult for ShoreTel to gain acceptance in larger enterprises as a full UCC provider.
  • ShoreTel continues to operate at a loss, but with break-even cash flow.

Siemens Enterprise Communications

The Siemens Enterprise Communications OpenScape portfolio offers a full and integrated suite of UC functionality meeting enterprise requirements, and OpenScape Cloud Services for SaaS UC deployments. These can be licensed in several profile-based bundles. Functionality includes telephony, an integrated suite of conferencing options, IM and presence, video, and UM. Siemens also offers a broad range of hard, soft and SIP-based clients, the functionality of which is available on leading mobile devices, including dual-mode handsets. The OpenScape Fusion integration allows the client to be imbedded within other application environments, including business applications, Google Applications and social media tools (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). The OpenScape Mobile Call Swipe option provides transparent real-time transfer of ongoing voice or video sessions among different devices. Siemens is demonstrating a next-generation UC platform, currently called Project Ansible, which includes an advanced user experience and strong integration options, and is scheduled for general availability in 2014.

Evaluate the OpenScape UC suite if your company is looking for a standards-based, complete and cost-effective UC software suite that can, as needed, be extended via integration with third-party solutions.

  • OpenScape is a mature, fully functional, all-software, all-SIP UC solution; elements of the portfolio are also offered as stand-alone capabilities.
  • The suite offers multiple integration options; it can be integrated with leading collaboration and business applications, such as those from IBM, Microsoft and Google, and it supports a range of client integrations.
  • As an early entrant into the all-software UC suite market, the OpenScape portfolio has been proven to be effective as a complete and scalable software-based solution for several years. The vendor continues to expand its offering with innovative and differentiating functionality.
  • Siemens Enterprise Communications' lack of visibility in the large North American market has resulted in slow adoption and acceptance of the OpenScape portfolio in that region. However, the vendor is investing in new channels and marketing programs, which are improving its visibility and penetration.
  • The vendor's recent UCaaS offering, which can be a hybrid complement to the on-premises offering, is intended to assist the vendor in entering the North American market. It must prove itself and prove effective, as it is entering a market that is rapidly being filled with large, established cloud vendors and disruptive alternatives.


Toshiba's UC solution is based on the IPedge, which is a fully bundled and inclusive suite. It also supports the Strata CIX family of IP business telephone systems allowing support and migration of existing customers. In addition to telephony, Toshiba has leveraged technology partners to create a solution that includes several variations of UM: audioconferencing and Web collaboration with up to 49 users, videoconferencing (up to eight parties), and XMPP and telephone status presence and IM. Toshiba offers UC-integrated contact center functionality with CRM integration, as well as a range of fixed and mobile client options. Toshiba has added the VIPedge Cloud-based Telephone Solution, which will provide both cloud and hybrid options, as well as plug-in integration for Microsoft Lync.

North American SMBs looking for a cost-effective, telephony-centric, basic UC solution should consider Toshiba's on-premises and cloud offerings.

  • Toshiba has an established reputation for reliable and cost-effective IP telephony solutions. Although the Toshiba UC solution scales up to 1,000 users, it does particularly well with small businesses of fewer than 500 users, partly because the vendor is especially cost-effective in this range.
  • Toshiba is developing an attractive hybrid on-premises and cloud offering.
  • The IPedge solution provides less UC functionality than many competitors. For example, conferencing functions do not integrate with third-party solutions, so separate investments are needed if larger or more-extensive capabilities are required.
  • Most of Toshiba's sales efforts are concentrated in North America. The references provided for this research were all focused on using the basic telephony functions, not the fuller UC suite.

Vendors Added and Dropped

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.


No vendors were added this year.


Digium was dropped from this year's Magic Quadrant. The Switchvox UC product is intended for the SMB market, thus does not qualify for inclusion. The Digium Asterisk solution, which can be customized to create a UC solution, is not included in the evaluation because it is not available as an off-the-shelf solution.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in this Magic Quadrant, solution providers must meet the following criteria:

  • Offer a unified solution in all six core communications areas defined in Gartner's UC model. Briefly stated, the six areas are: (1) telephony; (2) conferencing (including audio, Web and video, which can be offered via partnerships); (3) IM and presence; (4) messaging (which can be offered via integration with email, voice mail and various forms of UM); (5) clients for multiple environments; and (6) the ability to be integrated with other business and communications applications, such as collaboration software, contact centers, and CEBPs.
  • Integrate the UC functionality in each area into a complete solution presented via a consistent interface; nonintegrated functionality is not considered part of a unified solution.
  • Have a significant market presence in telephony and in three or more of the six core communications areas defined in Gartner's UC model; market presence can be demonstrated by significant market share or differentiating innovation. Vendor must have a minimum revenue of $150 million from enterprise communications.
  • Offer the UC solution in multiple global market regions, including North America, Europe and Asia.
  • Provide evidence of sales, revenue and operational investments that support market objectives — this research focuses on the large and very large enterprise market (vendors focused primarily on SMBs are not included).
  • Provide five references (three end users, two distribution partners) for enterprise on-premises UC portfolio/products. These references should involve the complete portfolio; references for portions of the UC portfolio are considered, but do not carry as much weight as references with complete solutions.

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers based on the quality, efficacy and overall maturity of the products, systems, tools and procedures that enhance individual, group and enterprise communications. Ultimately, UC providers are judged on their ability and success in capitalizing on their vision (see Table 1).

Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria



Product or Service


Overall Viability


Sales Execution/Pricing


Market Responsiveness/Record


Marketing Execution


Customer Experience




Source: Gartner (July 2013)

Completeness of Vision

Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers on their ability to convincingly articulate logical statements about current and future market directions, innovations, customer needs and competitive forces, and how well these map to Gartner's overall evaluation of the market. Ultimately, UC product providers are rated on their understanding over a multiyear time frame of how market forces can be exploited to create opportunities for providers and their clients (see Table 2).

Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria


Market Understanding


Marketing Strategy


Sales Strategy


Offering (Product) Strategy


Business Model


Vertical/Industry Strategy




Geographic Strategy


Source: Gartner (July 2013)

Quadrant Descriptions


Leaders have a full UC offering, strong market presence and demonstrate success in the field. They have a strong presence in related markets to expand their footprint in UC. These vendors and their channel partners have experience delivering UC to a broad range of enterprise types and into most geographic regions.


Vendors in the Challengers quadrant offer solutions and capabilities with the potential to move into a leadership position, but are lacking in one or more critical areas. Typically, this lack is in the area of market presence or in not being successfully sold in key regions. In other cases, the vendor is strong in all regions, but has elements of their portfolio that are not selling.


Vendors in the Visionaries quadrant offer a strong and differentiating approach to one or more core areas. However, these vendors have limited ability to execute across the entire set of requirements and markets, or have marketing and distribution limits to their ability to challenge the leading providers.

Niche Players

Vendors in the Niche Players quadrant offer solutions that are particularly strong in some, but not all, UC areas, or they have a solution that has limited market reach or appeal.


The enterprise UC market continued to mature during the past 12 months and is now considered by Gartner to be entering the early mainstream adoption phase. This means that products are available, but may lack features or capabilities. This also means that the best practices for users, administrators and system integrators have not yet matured. Key product deficiencies include lack of important features, lack integration options or lack of scaling for more demanding environments. Key best practices that are still maturing include those for selecting, pricing and deploying solutions, and those practices needed for increasing end-user adoption. Gartner believes it will take several years of incremental improvements to address these early mainstream issues.

An important issue that remains to be addressed is intervendor UC federation, which would enable companies to more easily work with partners, suppliers, distributors and customers who are using a different vendor's UC solution. While most products offer support for basic IM federation based on XMPP and SIMPLE, deeper rich federation is lacking. While there are technical challenges to federation, the major barrier is vendor competition; leading vendors wish to differentiate themselves by offering strong federation between companies that use their own products. There are, however, some solutions, such as NextPlane, that offer UC federation brokerage services. Gartner expects intercompany federation to improve over the next two years, as this is an important opportunity for business productivity improvements.

The past year saw the continued maturation of most vendor solutions in key areas:

  • Hybrid and cloud UC (UCaaS) deployment options — Although these lag on-premises deployment maturity by one to two years, this remains a strong area of user interest and potential value.
  • Mobility — A wide range of mobile technologies are having a significant effect on UC; these include full UC functionality, such as real-time media, on mobile platforms, fixed-mobile convergence and voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN), as well as the displacement of desk phones by integrated mobile phones.
  • Video — UC solutions are increasingly able to integrate multiple video options, including desktop, meeting room and video content management.
  • Administration and management — Integrated tools to assist in traffic and network monitoring and control are now considered essential, as are tools for usage reporting, consolidated provisioning and even analytics. These are particularly important to users who are integrating the communications traffic with application traffic on the enterprise WAN, and for those who are using UC to produce measurable change, including both user productivity gains and CEBP-based transformation.
  • Pricing and bundling improvements — Many vendors modified their UC bundles and market offers and now offer role-based pricing and bundles. These bundles allow enterprises to expand functionality based on more-targeted requirements of different types of workers (e.g., traveling workers versus desk-bound workers). Also, many, but not all, have simplified their pricing models.

An area with mixed progress during the past year was support for standards. While most UC vendors offer standards-based capabilities, some clearly deprecate public standards in favor of proprietary variations of software, hardware or networks. Conversely, other vendors clearly work hard to support the most public versions of standards and environments. This is a strategic issue for enterprise planners, because proprietary approaches often result in limited and more expensive options. For example, fixed and mobile clients supporting HTML5, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) or all-software video MCUs that support public scalable video codecs will offer significant price, performance and choice advantages. Similarly, support for SIP, SIMPLE and HTTP also allow more and better options.

In larger organizations, UC should be perceived as a process of continuous improvement. Gartner recommends that enterprises prepare their UC plans so that they know where and how they might evolve their environment and what the benefits would be. Planners should take a long-term view of their UC solution and expect considerable evolution during the next three years as the market responds to new technology influences. Key market influences include new mobile capabilities, consumer-based offerings, integrated cloud offerings and new standards based on HTML5.

Market Overview

Enterprises continue to struggle to define UC road maps that accommodate conflicting goals, including UC portfolio consolidation, best-of-breed functionality, vendor lock-in avoidance, legacy investment optimization and user demand for advanced functionality. UC road map definition is further complicated by the emerging UCaaS options. Vendor solutions attempt to address these goals with varying degrees of success.

From a competitive perspective, the relative positioning of the vendors changed very little this year, as all vendors made incremental improvements to their offerings. Cisco and Microsoft maintained their strong leads. Both these vendors have large installed bases into which they can sell UC functionality; Cisco leverages its position in network infrastructure, while Microsoft leverages its email and Office suite base. These two vendors compete fiercely in the market and both made significant advances during the past year. Cisco advanced client capabilities based on the Jabber client, including video, and now offers fully capable mobile client options. Cisco also continued aggressive marketing and sales programs. Microsoft advanced Lync's capabilities, including stronger mobile support and the integration of Lync with Skype in the Lync 2013 release. Microsoft's relative positioning was hurt this year by their slow progress in addressing enterprise telephony requirements, or at least in defining pragmatic telephony advice.

Other Leaders were Avaya and Siemens Enterprise Communications. Avaya consolidated its Aura UC solution and improved its video, IM/presence and Web conferencing capabilities through acquisitions. It has also advanced a stronger market and support initiative, allowing it to regain credibility in its customer and distribution bases. Siemens Enterprise Communications advanced the standards-based and open-integration focus of its OpenScape product, created stronger marketing and sales programs in North America, and is introducing a new UC client.

The vendors in the Challengers quadrant each pose threats to the Leaders, and all are large, established global companies. NEC, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei all have complete UC solutions; to advance competitively, they need to increase their visibility and sales in key markets. IBM approaches UC from a collaborative and social software perspective, and generally has high visibility globally. To advance in the UC market, IBM needs to increase the adoption of its complete UC portfolio, including Sametime Unified Telephony, which can be delivered as a component of the IBM Connections business social platform.

Mitel is the sole vendor in the Visionaries quadrant. It offers a full UC suite, a broad range of mobile and integration options, and a leading approach to client and server virtualization. It has recently rebranded its offering and has pursued a more aggressive marketing program.

The Niche Players quadrant has vendors that offer strong solutions for some areas or regions. The Interactive Intelligence UC solution is particularly effective for enterprises with both contact center and UC requirements. ShoreTel, Aastra Technologies and Toshiba remain better-known for telephony than for a broader UC portfolio.

As part of this research, vendors were asked to estimate the costs of several different configurations, including a 1,000-subscriber centralized deployment, a 5,000-subscriber distributed deployment and a 30,000-subscriber multinational deployment. They were also asked to detail what they were including in their estimates and how they handled support. In general, server and user license pricing varied from a low end of $200 to $350 per subscriber to a high end of $350 to $450; these were estimates for a full UC suite without messaging, which means telephony, IM and presence, and conferencing. This included server hardware, but not telephone handsets. Installation and professional services were often $75 to $100 per user. However, vendors are often prepared to offer significant discounts, which vary according to the competitiveness of the bidding process; discounting of 40% to 50% is common. Vendors offered support in several forms, making direct comparisons difficult; however, the most common response was that service costs average 12% to 15% of the purchase price, excluding the cost of software assurance or license upgrade contracts.

Several vendors offer strong UC functionality in specific areas, but were not included in this Magic Quadrant, because the inclusion criteria required that vendors have strong on-premises solutions in at least four of the UC technology areas. In the area of conferencing, Polycom and several other vendors offer strong solutions, but were not included because they do not offer solutions in other technology areas. In the area of UM, AVST offers a best-of-breed solution. Esna offers a useful middleware approach for integrating disparate UC environments, including the integration of Google with enterprise telephony and video. Finally, UC service providers (e.g., AT&T, Google, Verizon and CSC) were not included in this research, because they do not offer on-premises solutions, but offer UCaaS or UC on a leased basis; those types of UC service solutions are described in "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, North America."

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.

Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.

Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.

Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.

Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.