MarketScope for Unified Communications for the SMB Market, North America
As demand for UC from the small-and-midsize-business market grows, providers are becoming increasingly competitive by enhancing their portfolios and improving their go-to-market strategies. However, IT purchasers still need to balance feature set needs against integration and support requirements.
Unified communications (UC) registers as a top investment initiative for North American small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Increasingly, SMBs are evaluating a broad range of integrated communications functionality to facilitate communications across workgroups and with customers.
Making the right vendor selection is mission-critical to business processes. Therefore, IT planners must carefully consider multiple UC solution criteria early on during the UC evaluation process to determine alignment with internal requirements for functionality, ease of use and administration, customization and pricing, and the ability of the provider's channel partner to offer any necessary integration services. As part of the detailed vendor comparisons, Gartner advises SMBs to consider the transparency of the full UC solution cost (including ease of extending specific functionality to users), ease of installation, ease of configuration and the requirements related to ongoing management. As communications needs extend to communities inside and outside the organization, UC functions will need to become increasingly integrated with communications-enabled business processes that involve third-party applications. This means UC solutions must have integrated and user-friendly management interfaces, and solutions must be straightforward for channel partners to position.
Most providers serving the North American SMB market have missing UC capabilities (for example, solutions might lack email or Web conferencing), but they continue to aggressively update UC portfolios and enhance go-to-market strategies. Some providers have separate architectures for different sizes of customers. This could result in the business needing to make major technology changes, should the business expand beyond a given solution's scope.
The updated MarketScope ratings show that some notable vendor positioning changes have occurred since our 2012 publication. In particular, providers have evolved their SMB UC portfolios and go-to-market practices.
This MarketScope focuses on the premises-based UC (running as software for installation on a server, or delivered as a dedicated appliance) market for North American SMBs. For the purposes of this MarketScope, coverage is limited to solutions for SMBs with between 20 and 499 employees, and this segment is a subset of Gartner's broader global definition for SMBs of up to 999 employees (see "Gartner's Small and Midsize Business Market Definition, 2013 Update"). Clients with fewer than 500 employees will find the vendors in this MarketScope more aligned with their particular needs. 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 the existing Gartner UC Magic Quadrant because it focuses specifically on those offerings aimed at the requirements of SMBs. The UC Magic Quadrant focuses on solutions for large businesses and multinational corporations. However, there is some overlap in vendors and offerings between the two reports (see "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications"). In addition, this MarketScope is 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) and have integrated management interfaces
- Are industry-specific and have applications that closely tie in to their current business processes
- Are simple to use and have consistent user interfaces
- 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. Cloud offerings are not considered in the evaluation this year, but they are noted in the vendor section, where available, and may form part of the evaluation in future research.
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 or integration with email, 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-enabled applications
- The ability to generate significant interest in the 20- to 499-employee segment
- An offering that has significant market presence (defined as market share, differentiating innovation, and/or mind share)
- Demonstrable UC for SMB portfolios/products with references
- The ability to integrate UC functions into a complete solution (can involve third-party products)
Overall Market Rating: Positive
Gartner has increased the overall MarketScope rating from Promising to Positive, as the market (as considered by Gartner) is entering the early mainstream adoption phase. This means SMB UC solutions are available and are increasingly being implemented, but robust solutions are a work in progress, with some products lacking key features and functionality. Providers are continuing to enhance their UC portfolios to improve the traction of their SMB UC offers. From a solution portfolio perspective, providers continue to extend mobile device support, improving the reach of functionality being delivering to mobile devices (for example, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry) and tablets. Furthermore, providers have improved video capabilities and enhanced the back-end solution architecture to provide easier implementation and system management experiences. Some providers rolled out vertical-specific customization, and others improved language support capabilities to extend the product reach in specific geographies.
Providers display significant differences in their SMB UC portfolio positioning and in their abilities to support their partners in UC implementations. All providers continue to invest in marketing programs and channel training efforts to improve their SMB UC go-to-market success. UC providers are also continuing to improve software bundles, create attractive UC pricing and provide more simplified UC implementation quotes.
Overall, providers have room to improve their product, channel and market positioning — the market is still maturing. Providers with significant legacy telephony solutions in place continue to make progress training existing channel partners to sell and extend UC functionality to their installed base of clients. Providers lacking legacy installed-base clients continue to develop strategies to enhance newer platforms and demonstrate that elements are ready for prime time despite more limited maturity.
Table 1 shows the evaluation criteria, and Figure 1 shows the vendor ratings. Table 2 features the size segment target of the providers' SMB UC solutions.
Source: Gartner (August 2013)
Source: Gartner (August 2013)
Source: Gartner (August 2013)
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 OmniPCX Office RCE offering is appliance-based and provides support for voice; mobility (mobile UC, secure access control and teleworking); IM, rich presence, UM and fax capabilities; voice and data conferencing and videoconferencing; contact center capabilities; and social media federation. Videoconferencing and Web conferencing are available as premises-based or cloud-based offerings. The OmniPCX Office RCE supports all mobile devices with specific clients available for iOS and Android devices. The solution does not support virtualization, although the CPU can be hosted remotely.
For midsize businesses with between 100 and 1,500 employees, Alcatel-Lucent offers the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based OpenTouch Business Edition, which features telephony (via the OmniPCX Enterprise), conferencing (audio, video and Web), as well as messaging, mobility, contact center and presence/IM functionality. OpenTouch Business Edition features not only native video switching and multimedia collaboration, but also unified management of all UC elements. During the year, Alcatel-Lucent made mobile and video improvements to OpenTouch, including enhancements to support the iPad, iPhone and LifeSize devices. OpenTouch Business Edition supports virtualization.
During the first half of 2013, Alcatel-Lucent began the rollout of the OpenTouch Enterprise Cloud solution, which will provide the subscription-based delivery equivalent to its premises-based portfolio in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. Services are geared for organizations with between 50 and 5,000 users. It's too early to gauge the success of this new offering.
When to Consider Alcatel-Lucent
SMBs should consider Alcatel-Lucent if they are seeking a comprehensive UC offering that is competitively priced, reliable and easy to use, or if they are part of a company with European sites, because Alcatel-Lucent has strong delivery and support capabilities there.
- SMBs can acquire a full UC suite through Alcatel-Lucent at relatively lower price points versus most other UC competitors.
- Alcatel-Lucent's channel relationships with Icon Voice Networks (formerly Iwatsu), Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions (a business segment of Arrow Electronics) and AT&T are expanding the company's North American market reach. Alcatel-Lucent is actively certifying, training and engaging with its North American partner base to expand business opportunities.
- Unified management of the UC applications helps meet the need of IT-resource-constrained SMBs. The OpenTouch platform can be sold as a full suite with complete integration on the back end and unified management of the UC applications.
- Ongoing organizational changes create long-term uncertainty for the Enterprise group. In June 2013, Alcatel-Lucent announced a three-year plan to reposition the company and its business units. The future of the Enterprise portion of the business remains unclear.
- Despite posting significant year-over-year North American UC business and channel growth, Alcatel-Lucent has a small North American SMB UC market presence, and the company does not receive frequent consideration in bids. Customers should ensure there is channel partner geographic coverage across sites, along with expertise in OpenTouch, before moving forward with implementations.
- Growing SMBs migrating from the RCE solution to the OpenTouch Business Edition solution can reutilize most of their existing hardware, but they face a disruptive upgrade process.
Avaya offers IP Office for the small- and low-end midsize-market segment and the Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise. These offers are described below:
- IP Office 8.1 software can run on an appliance (IP Office 500 V2), on a server (Server Edition) or a combination of servers and appliances. The IP Office 500 V2 appliance 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 or can be centrally managed across 32 locations. 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. Web conferencing functionality can be obtained through a certified DevConnect partner, as IP Office does not currently offer native Web conferencing. IP Office is sold in the following editions: Basic for simple telephony capabilities; Essential for fewer than 25 users who desire IP telephony and mobility; Preferred for more advanced UC functionality; and Advanced for SMBs with customer service departments requiring contact center and analytics applications. All versions support time division multiplexing (TDM) and IP (H.323 and SIP) endpoints and trunks on the same platform. Starting with release 7.0, IP Office supports most end-of-sale Nortel BCM and Norstar phones, as well as supports Partner and Integral. In 2012, Avaya released Lync, Microsoft Outlook and salesforce.com integrations as well as tight coupling of SMB-focused Ethernet Routing Switch (ERS) 3500 network switches with IP Office. In June 2013, Avaya released desktop, mobile and high-definition (HD) room-system video collaboration capabilities for IP Office.
- The Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise combines telephony, call center and UC elements, and it supports 250 to 2,400 users. Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise adds more native UC functionality than IP Office, including IM/presence, Web conferencing, notification and multivendor integration, as well as an add-on multichannel 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 Solution for Midsize Enterprise. Additionally, Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise supports desktop video and videoconferencing using the Avaya Desktop Video Device with the Avaya Flare Experience and Scopia video endpoints as well as Avaya B100 audioconferencing devices. Organizations can choose full virtualization with Avaya Aura Virtualized Environment (VE) or opt for dedicated hardware offered by Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise.
For cloud functionality, Avaya positions AvayaLive Connect. AvayaLive Connect provides voice, video, IM, presence, messaging and conferencing functionality and is geared for very small businesses with up to 25 employees. With Avaya's next release of IP Office, version 9.0, Avaya plans to support virtualization and offer SMBs pure cloud and hybrid premises/cloud delivery options.
When to Consider Avaya
SMBs should consider Avaya offers if their UC plans include telephony, audioconferencing or videoconferencing requirements, and they are looking for a solid telephony brand with an ample selection of UC channel partners.
- Avaya is successfully leveraging its video capabilities attained through its Radvision acquisition and bringing these capabilities down market to SMBs with the June 2013 release of the Avaya Video Collaboration Solution for IP Office offering. The solution directly integrates with IP Office 8.1 and includes a virtual eight-person conference room that participants can join via click-to-call using a mobile device, desktop device or room-based system.
- Avaya has strong brand recognition and a favorable reputation in the SMB telephony market. Furthermore, Avaya has a broad base of channel partners positioning communications solutions across North America as well as many regions globally. As a result of its reputation and coverage, Avaya is frequently included in voice-centric SMB UC bids.
- The company has a very large installed base of telephony users across North America, 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.
- Avaya's conferencing functionality and find-me/follow-me capabilities — available as out-of-the-box standard features on IP Office — are well-suited to meet many SMB audioconferencing and mobility requirements.
- According to channel partner feedback, Avaya obtains overall mixed ratings for channel partner support. Compared with some competitors, Avaya can be difficult to do business with. While many partners have the appropriate internal skill sets to support IP Office implementations throughout the implementation and ongoing support cycle, if escalated support is required, poor support to its partners can translate into lags that can negatively impact the customer experience. Avaya has rolled out IP Office Support Services to its partners that is intended to expedite support and implementation services and improve response times for escalation issues.
- While the Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise offers attractive functionality for users, the price and complexity of the solution may not be suitable for highly price-sensitive organizations with limited in-house IT staff.
- Avaya's financial picture needs to improve for the company to thrive in this market and to position itself to move forward with its initial public offering (IPO) and reduce its debt level. Avaya continues to be challenged from a revenue standpoint, with revenue declines in each of the last four quarters. Margins have remained relatively stable, as the company has reduced cost order to maintain profitability ratios. Debt levels remain high at $6.1 billion, but the company did successfully refinance its debt to push debt maturities out to a later period.
The Cisco SMB portfolio that supports UC functionality comprises three platforms:
- For small businesses from 20 to 138 employees, Cisco has the Smart Business Communications 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, messaging, applications and voice gateway services on a single appliance. The solution supports Android and iPhone mobile clients but does not natively support iPad or BlackBerry devices. Support for IM and presence requires Cisco WebEx Connect, which is an optional subscription-based cloud service.
- Cisco Business Edition 6000 stands out as a virtualized platform designed for organizations with up to 1,000 employees. It supports UC on a single server and provides the same features offered with the Business Edition 3000, but it adds support for the Cisco Jabber mobile client, offers a contact center option and adds a redundancy option. Additionally, Business Edition 6000 supports a broader range of mobility options (beyond what the 3000 supports), including iPad and BlackBerry devices.
For cloud functionality, Cisco offers the Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), which is built on Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) and supports telephony, mobility, voice mail and UM. UC capabilities include IM, presence and conferencing, all of which users can access from the Cisco Jabber UC client. However, HCS is not currently a good fit for SMBs because it is available from mainly large service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, which target organizations with more than 500 subscribers.
When to Consider Cisco
SMBs should consider SBCS if they have up to 125 employees in a single site. They should consider Business Edition 6000 if looking to meet the needs of organizations with up to 1,000 users with advanced UC functionality requirements or with the ability to run in a VMware environment.
- Cisco continues to enhance its channel program to more effectively go after the SMB market. Cisco already has a broad base of North American channel partners. In 2012, Cisco created two new midmarket programs to help its partners specifically win UC bids. The Midmarket Collaboration Promotion provides partners with a predictable product discount structure. The Midmarket Collaboration Migration Program provides these partners with detailed guidance on migrating legacy Cisco customers to the Business Edition 6000.
- Cisco offers a 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. The Business Edition 6000 product features the most robust applications of the three Cisco solutions we are evaluating; enhancements associated with integration of IM and presence, as well as installation and configuration improvements (associated with the 9.x release), improve the broader appeal of this solution for a range of SMB environments.
- 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's channel reputation specific to network services is strong.
- Although Cisco SMB UC prices continue to decline, Cisco's solution price points are higher than the industry average price points, which can dissuade price-sensitive SMBs from Cisco UC investment initiatives.
- Depending on the platform and level of functionality required, solutions can be complex to configure, and the architecture could require a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) to support it — a resource many SMBs may not have available in-house.
- Growing organizations should evaluate the capacity limits of Cisco SBCS and Business Edition. For example, 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 require both IT and end-user retraining.
Rating: Strong Positive
Switchvox, Digium's packaged solution geared specifically for 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 a range of configurations that supports up to 600 users. The solution features telephony, audioconferencing, UM, IM/presence, call queues, fixed mobile convergence, recording, fax, salesforce.com and SugarCRM integration, as well as notification and collaboration functionality. Digium also offers a line of SIP standard phones that can be sold in conjunction with Switchvox and relies on third-party phone providers (Polycom or Snom) for other phone functionality, such as conferencing, or Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) requirements. Switchvox offers iPhone, Android, iPad and BlackBerry device support. Switchvox does not provide built-in Web conferencing or videoconferencing functionality.
In the first half of 2013, Digium released Switchvox Cloud, the hosted delivery version of its premises-based Switchvox. Switchvox Cloud is targeted to very small U.S.-based businesses and features unlimited local and long-distance minutes, local direct inward dialing (DID), unlimited extension-to-extension dialing, and HD voice, in addition to the premises-based Switchvox capabilities.
When to Consider Digium
Organizations with fewer than 500 employees 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.
- Digium enhanced the Switchvox API to extend additional customization with business applications. This shift is important to allow customers or integrators the opportunity to more easily tie in business-specific applications to improve processes. For example, easy integration between caller ID information and Google Maps can provide location-based information that is useful for organizations involved in dispatching services or product delivery.
- Digium utilizes effective channel practices to assist partners in growing their businesses. Digium assists with lead generation and marketing/promotion support to help partners generate new business or engage with the installed base of customers. This hands-on approach creates loyal partnerships that can funnel down to positively impact customers' Digium experiences.
- Switchvox has some functionality limitations that might be incompatible for an organization with specific requirements. Switchvox does not offer Web conferencing or videoconferencing functionality. End users desiring these capabilities will have to integrate third-party solutions.
- Switchvox does not support centralized networking and administration, which means sites are administered individually as opposed to centrally, which can pose a management burden for organizations with limited IT resources.
The Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center (CIC) is an all-in-one SIP-based system with a preintegrated application suite that supports a range of business communications on one platform. The solution includes CIC's strong contact center applications, call processing, voice mail, fax server, UM and presence capabilities. CIC is well-suited for enterprises from 100 to 15,000 users for multisite deployments. The single-server software offering (with separate media application server) targets midsize businesses and large enterprises, and it provides the ability to integrate with contact center and other applications. The solution also integrates with third-party UC solutions, such as Microsoft Lync and IBM Sametime, and video solutions, such as those from Polycom. Features include support for mobile devices (such as Android, iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry) and SMS to desktop clients, which allows users to send and receive SMS directly from their desktop to smartphones and tablets. CIC provides native audioconferencing functionality but does not feature Web or native videoconferencing capabilities.
Interactive Intelligence's strong contact center solutions serve organizations with heavy requirements in markets that include insurance agencies, accounts receivable organizations (collections agencies), financial institutions, utilities, healthcare, government and outsourcers.
Interactive Intelligence has been successful with its cloud solutions that are located in its own network operating center. The cloud portfolio is sold directly and through channel partners with UC, multichannel ACD, workforce optimization and interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities. Options are available for users who have requirements that range from basic to advanced contact center functionality, which could include features such as reporting, workforce management and outbound dialing.
When to Consider Interactive Intelligence
SMB organizations with more than 100 employees should evaluate the CIC solution if they are looking for a strong contact-center-based UC offering and if they are seeking an integrated offering with the potential to satisfy custom sophisticated applications. Additionally, CIC could be considered when looking to augment Microsoft Lync with telephony or contact center functionality. CIC would not be suitable for highly price-sensitive organizations.
- Interactive Intelligence provides robust contact center functionality and business process automation functionality. The product is well-suited to integrating contact center functionality with UC functionality.
- CIC provides solid integration with Microsoft Lync. The latest release (CIC 4.0) continues integration efforts with an Outlook plug-in to provide presence contact information for employees identified in the email address fields. Furthermore, CIC 4.0 supports Lync 2013.
- Although this MarketScope evaluates the premises-based SMB UC market, Gartner notes that Interactive Intelligence offers flexible deployment options for UC functionality. The same software solution can be deployed in a premises-based or cloud environment via one of Interactive Intelligence's eight data centers. The company is demonstrating strong traction in cloud delivery.
- The company, which is publicly traded, is demonstrating staying power in the industry versus competition by growing total revenue more than 13% in 2012, compared with 2011, and gross profit by more than 9%. Additionally, orders increased 48% in 2012, with a healthy 60% coming from new customers.
- While Interactive Intelligence offers CIC without the contact center component, SMB users will find that the platform is most cost-effective when there is an integral business requirement for contact center capabilities. The overall price points may be unattractive to most price-sensitive SMBs.
- The company is known mainly as a contact center provider, which reduces its effectiveness and appeal in delivering its broader UC product to enterprises.
- Not all of Interactive Intelligence's channel partners are strong in designing, installing and supporting UC environments. Prospects should check channel partner references that match their UC needs, and they should verify that support resources have been trained and certified on current product releases.
Microsoft positions Lync 2013 for its premises-based UC offering in the above-250-employee segment. The solution scales to 5,000 users in a single-server environment; an additional server is added for redundancy purposes. Microsoft positions primarily Office 365, Lync Online and Exchange Online in the under-250-employee market segment. Lync Online has limitations in telephony and video provisioning, although some Microsoft partners (for example, AT&T and Vodafone) are offering PBX capabilities with Lync. For purposes of this evaluation, we are examining Microsoft's premises-based offers.
Microsoft Lync 2013, combined with Exchange, provides full conferencing capabilities (audio, Web and video), IM/presence, email, UM and telephony functionality. Lync 2013 features several enhancements over its Lync 2010 predecessor, including the following:
- Skype: Interoperability between Lync and Skype (Lync users can call Skype users, and Skype users can call Lync users).
- Lync 2013 expands mobile device support to include Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android. VoIP and video are available over the applications.
- Lync room conference systems — Partnerships with LifeSize, Polycom, Smart and Crestron to provide collaboration-enabled conference rooms.
Microsoft positions various versions of Office 365 and Lync Online, as well as Exchange Online, to provide cloud UC functionality across both small- and large-market segments.
When to Consider Microsoft
Midsize businesses (organizations with more than 250 employees, as defined by Microsoft) should consider Lync if they currently rely on or have significant investments in Microsoft Office applications and Exchange for email, and if they have a collaboration-centric workforce. Organizations should ensure they have the required IT resources in place to integrate and manage the offering and that the more limited telephony capabilities of Lync can meet their needs.
- Microsoft continues to invest in marketing and sales initiatives to promote and position Lync as a full UC and collaboration solution. These efforts, combined with Microsoft's significant installed base of email and desktop users, means Microsoft frequently registers as a UC bid contender — even outside of its midsize- to large-enterprise "sweet spot."
- Lync 2013's evolving integration with Skype enables the company to position not only business-to-business collaboration capabilities, but also business-to-consumer capabilities. This integration will further embrace social collaboration.
- Microsoft's dominance in the email market and its ability to tie in business applications across the desktop to improve business processes strengthen the value Microsoft can offer prospects.
- Telephony is a significant lead-in to UC, and Microsoft Lync is most commonly deployed alongside an existing PBX instead of in place of the PBX. Microsoft has gained some experience positioning Lync as a telephony replacement, but Lync voice functionality is still maturing. Gartner expects the Lync server will reside alongside a PBX, with most users maintaining a DID associated with the existing PBX for several years.
- Microsoft is focused primarily on a service-based UC approach (Lync Online as part of Office 365) for the SMB market, as opposed to a premises-based approach (through Lync 2013). This strategy means that the architecture and positioning of Lync can be more applicable for larger organizations.
- Lync implementations can be complex and require significant IT staff resources and channel partner integration expertise.
In May 2013, Mitel rebranded its UC architecture to enhance the ease of positioning of its UC suite. Under the new branding, Mitel positions three solutions for the SMB market:
- Mitel MiVoice Business: Call control platforms and endpoints (formerly Mitel Communications Director, UC360 and Mitel Desktop). Mitel also positions MiVoice Office (formerly Mitel 5000 Communications Platform). MiVoice Office features a simplified package designed specifically to address smaller businesses (20- to 99-employee segment) with telephony, basic audioconferencing and messaging capabilities.
- MiCollab: 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).
- Mitel MiContact Center Solutions: Formerly Customer Interaction Solutions, Contact Center Business Edition/Enterprise Edition, Multimedia Contact Center and Workforce Scheduling.
Mitel extends UC capabilities to mobile workers on BlackBerry, Android, iPhone and iPad devices.
During the year, Mitel made several enhancements to its core MiVoice Business and MiCollab solutions. Version 6.0 of MiVoice Business offers improved twinning and device-independent SIP "hot desking," as well as improvements associated with the administration console (fewer input requirements). MiCollab 5.0 enhancements include out-of-the-box integration with Google and Office 365. New packaging option combines Mitel MiVoice Business and MiCollab into a single virtual machine for deployment on VMware's vSphere ESXi hypervisor.
Mitel offers three UC bundles based on tiered user requirements:
- Entry: For deskbound office workers who need messaging and some in-office mobility
- Standard: For knowledge workers who need to collaborate, share documents and have some mobility requirements within their corporate environment
- Premium: For fully mobile or remote workers who need an in-office experience, regardless of location
Mitel MiVoice Business can be purchased as an appliance on the Mitel 3300 hardware. It is the same software packaged on hardware for easy deployment. It can also be deployed on an industry-standard dedicated server, or as a virtual instance on VMware. For redundancy, these options can be mixed and matched.
Mitel offers a range of MiCloud alternatives for the delivery of cloud-based UC for the SMB market. Service providers and Mitel dealers can build and deploy their own MiCloud capabilities using the same UC software that supports Mitel's enterprise-based platform. Mitel can also build and operate the core UC platform for integration with a service provider's product portfolio. A UCaaS version uses Mitel applications and is compatible with a VMware environment.
When to Consider Mitel
SMBs will find Mitel a very strong choice if they want a single software stream, a choice of commercial off-the-shelf servers running in a VMware environment, the ability to deploy premises-based, cloud-based or hybrid solutions, or the ability to interoperate with Microsoft Lync. With Mitel's purchase of its former supplier, prairieFyre, Mitel is now positioned to provide its own contact center platform that is fully compatible with all versions of Mitel MiVoice Business.
- Mitel's financial performance is positive, compared with many of its competitors. 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's product rebranding and bundling initiatives should make the solutions more attractive to SMBs and easier for channel partners to position to SMBs.
- Mitel's expertise and early leadership in UC virtualization offers customers the ability to streamline communications infrastructure costs and provides flexible application consumption options (private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud — delivered with a single software stream).
- Mitel lacks the UC brand awareness that some of its competitors enjoy. This means Mitel is not as frequently in the SMB UC consideration pool as some providers.
- Prospects should confirm Mitel channel partner expertise and references match their UC and geographical requirements. Some partners may not have the appropriate expertise for full UC suite implementations.
NEC offers four UC solutions for the SMB market under its Univerge portfolio. The first is the UC Desktop Suite, which runs on the Univerge SV8100 platform. The solution is ideally suited for organizations with between 20 and 100 users. The next offering is the UC for Business (UCB), which is available in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, and it can be used across the SV8000 series of platforms. UCB can be deployed on a virtualized server and is ideally suited for customers that have multiple SV platforms. NEC's Business ConneCT (BCT) UC solution is positioned for organizations in EMEA. In the U.S., BCT is offered as an option for contact center and operator consoles. BCT supports virtualization through VMware, XenServer or Hyper-V. Although UCB and BCT solutions are scalable, they have a sweet spot supporting small businesses with between 50 and 500 users. NEC also positions the Univerge 3C (roots from NEC's acquisition of Sphere Communications) software solution. The 3C is positioned in both SMB and large-enterprise market segments.
The solutions offer broad conferencing capabilities (audio, Web and video), as well as IM and presence functionality. Additionally, the solutions support Android, iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry devices.
NEC launched its Univerge Cloud Services UCaaS offer in early 2013. The UCaaS solution leverages NEC's Univerge 3C platform that can interwork with existing SV8300 and SV8500 environments. The solution leverages many of the same tools that NEC's partner base uses to sell premises-based UC solutions. Rollouts are starting in North America, and NEC plans to expand outside of North America in 2014.
When to Consider NEC
Organizations should consider NEC if they have up to 500 users or are part of one of the key vertical markets that NEC addresses and are looking for affordable UC functionality.
- According to channel feedback, NEC obtains above-average ratings for channel partner support. NEC receives positive marks for providing effective and personalized presales and postsales partner support, which helps translate into a positive customer experience for NEC's customer base.
- NEC is continuing to build on its vertical-specific market expertise to offer productized UC solutions with tailored features to help meet specific business needs within industry segments. NEC offers in-a-box solutions for the education, government, healthcare, hospitality, retail, auto and manufacturing sectors (this is an expanded list of verticals from the previous MarketScope update). Furthermore, NEC has internal vertical leads and engages with vertically oriented dealers to address these industry sectors.
- NEC leverages unique assurances and license models to encourage UC adoption. NEC eliminated mobile client license fees (previously customers paid $8.95 per device license), and now a single license allows support for up to five devices. Furthermore, NEC offers trial UC licenses during traditional system sales to encourage UC adoption and offers a standard five-year warranty.
- NEC's SMB product portfolio lacks cohesion and a consistent architecture, which means NEC's product development, marketing and channel resources are stretched across a broad range of solutions. Currently, NEC positions the following solutions: UCB, BCT, the UC Desktop Suite and Univerge 3C across various SMB markets.
- NEC's go-to-market structure is better-suited for single-region organizations as opposed to multinational SMBs, because the products offered, the customer experience and the channel support will be different by region, which can create planning and integration challenges. NEC does, however, offer centralized support based in Japan and the U.S. (depending on geographic location) to coordinate multinational deployments, and it has built-in technologies for its platforms to operate across multisite deployments.
- NEC's UC solutions do not have as much brand recognition due to NEC's limited marketing investments as compared with some competitors. As a result, NEC isn't frequently in the North American UC consideration set.
ShoreTel positions the Small Business Edition 100 with ShoreTel 14 for the SMB UC market up to 100 users. This is a special discounted package of a ShoreTel switch appliance, user licenses and optional server. It can be expanded to the Enterprise Edition to support more users by adding licenses and switch appliances.
ShoreTel's architecture is an appliance-based distributed design. 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, audioconferencing (supports 200 audio users), Web conferencing and collaboration (application sharing for Windows, iPad and iPhone), video (point to point and point to third party) and mobility.
ShoreTel has efforts underway to launch ShoreTel Connect (slated for North American availability in early 2014), which will enable ShoreTel's premises customers to acquire integrated UC application services via the cloud. Currently, the ShoreTel Sky Cloud Division (voice-as-a-service delivery capabilities obtained through its March 2012 acquisition of M5 Networks) offerings remain mostly separate from ShoreTel's premises-based offerings, with the exception of the ShoreTel Mobility functionality.
When to Consider ShoreTel
SMBs should consider ShoreTel if they have a distributed office environment and 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.
- ShoreTel's solution 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 14, is well-suited for most SMBs' UC needs and resource limitations.
- End-user feedback indicates ShoreTel is generally easy to do business with. ShoreTel receives higher-than-average feedback on being easy to work with as a UC provider. This means ShoreTel's partners can resolve issues related to presales or postsales support relatively easily, which helps translate into generally positive customer satisfaction ratings.
- ShoreTel's mobility enhancements enable broad reach across a range of devices. Furthermore, in May 2013, ShoreTel released the ShoreTel Dock — a docking station — that supports iPads and iPhones, enabling desk phone capabilities through these devices.
- ShoreTel continues to grow its base of North American customers. Although ShoreTel's base of customers is smaller than many providers, its shipments and share are growing faster than the market average, and ShoreTel has been demonstrating positive customer growth momentum on a consecutive annual basis during the past several years.
- ShoreTel has more limited human and financial resources to leverage than some of its competitors. As of year-end 2012, ShoreTel had just under 1,000 employees globally and $246.6 million in revenue (ShoreTel's year-end 30 June 2012), which means the company doesn't have as many resources to leverage for product development, support and marketing purposes.
- ShoreTel is undergoing some internal management changes that could impact the direction of the company.
- ShoreTel has a broad base of distribution partners across North America, but it has more limited geographic coverage outside of North America. ShoreTel has grown its international business to 14% of total revenue; however, Gartner recommends evaluating in-country support services early on during the sales cycle for international deployments.
- ShoreTel's UC features will satisfy most SMB organizations' functionality requirements; however, the ShoreTel solution is not as feature-rich as some offers of competitors. For example, ShoreTel's conferencing capabilities (video, audio and Web) might not meet certain requirements.
Rating: Strong Positive
OpenScape Office is Siemens Enterprise Communications' (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 audio, Web and video collaboration functionality, and a suite of collaboration applications for SEN's OpenStage phones.
Three versions of OpenScape Office 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 MX, HX and LX platforms can be networked together for up to 1,000 users. SEN's mobile client capabilities include support for a wide range of mobile devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian. In addition, during 2013 SEN introduced OpenScape Business for up to 500 users (general North American availability expected in September 2013) and OpenScape Enterprise Express for up to 1,000 users. By supporting reuse of existing components and telephones, these two systems are intended to provide a cost-effective transition from TDM to IP for users of older SEN TDM systems such as the HiPath 3000 and HiPath 4000.
SEN offers cloud-based versions of its OpenScape UC portfolio that are available from a limited number of its dealers.
When to Consider Siemens
SMBs should evaluate SEN's OpenScape Office, OpenScape Business or OpenScape Enterprise Express products 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. Typically, license credits and other incentives are available to current SEN customers.
- The financial backing of The Gores Group has enabled the company to invest in UC-focused strategic initiatives.
- SEN has visionary UC technology developments in the works. In July 2013, SEN introduced Project Ansible, its next-generation enterprise communications and collaboration platform that is positioned with inherent analytic, video and business application capabilities. While the solution is in the very early launch stages, the concept shows industry-leading technology vision.
- 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. Additionally, OpenScape Office receives positive scores for ease of implementation. Built-in wizards make OpenScape Office relatively straightforward to configure and deploy.
- SEN's channel coverage is less extensive in the North American market than it is in many other regions. For high-level problem resolution, some SEN dealers have their own network operation centers to minimize coordination with resources based in Germany.
- With the introduction of OpenScape Business and OpenScape Enterprise Express, prospective SEN customers should get clarification from their SEN dealers about how SEN will provide investment protection for users of the various OpenScape Office solutions.
- Prospects should confirm that channel partner references match their UC and regional needs, and verify that support resources have been trained and certified on all available SEN products and releases.
Toshiba positions two offerings in the premises-based SMB UC market. The first is based on the IP-capable Strata CIX telephony platform combined with the IPedge Application Server (which adds voice messaging/UM, notification, presence/IM and basic contact center functionality). The Strata CIX is available in multiple versions to accommodate different size segments.
Toshiba's IPedge is the newer UC offer, which is available in three versions: IPedge EP (sweet spot is at eight to 40 users); IPedge EC (sweet spot is at 20 to 100 users); and the IPedge EM (sweet spot is at 100 to 500 users, although the solution scales up to 1,000 users). IPedge is a pure IP solution built on a Linux-based platform featuring telephony, voice messaging/UM, IM/presence, conferencing and collaboration, and SIP trunking capabilities in a single-server architecture.
The Strata CIX and IPedge solutions are positioned to customers in the same size segments. The CIX solution supports digital and IP devices, while the IPedge is a pure IP-based solution. The solutions can be networked together as necessary.
The IPedge IP-PBX provides complete survivability with failover to another member node server for voice/telephony, UM and UC client. It provides voice mail replication across nodes via direct cluster networking technology. The IPedge EC supports redundant array of independent disks (RAID) 1. The IPedge EM supports RAID 1/RAID 5, redundant network interface cards and redundant power supplies. The IPedge Application Server for CIX also supports voice mail replication across nodes. The VIPedge is a virtualized instance of IPedge delivered as a cloud telephony service that has inherent redundancy via virtualized container instances with configuration and data backup.
For cloud-based communications, Toshiba positions the VIPedge solution, which became available in July 2012. VIPedge is a virtualized version of its IPedge product and provides similar capabilities as the IPedge, but users acquire functionality through a monthly service-based subscription fee.
When to Consider Toshiba
Small businesses should consider Toshiba if they are looking for a reliable, more telephony-centric offering geared specifically for smaller environments.
- Toshiba is continuing to enhance its portfolio to bring UC functionality to its legacy installed base of customers. In April 2013, Toshiba released the availability of its IPedge as an application server to extend functionality to CIX users. This also positions customers with an easy migration path if they are ready to migrate to the full IPedge solution (requires call processing license).
- Toshiba is realigning its standard licensing options to increasingly extend out to users more UC functionality versus basic capabilities. For example, Toshiba eliminated its voice-mail-only license and reduced the license fee on its UM to make UM a standard application. Toshiba also expanded the applications available in its standard Call Manager PC package.
- Toshiba focuses on the SMB market and is known for offering affordable, reliable voice-oriented solutions to SMBs.
- Compared with most vendors featured in this MarketScope evaluation, Toshiba is behind in terms of mobile device support. Neither the IPedge (EC or EM) nor the IPedge Application Server support BlackBerry, iPad or Symbian devices. The solutions, however, do offer full support for iPhone and Android clients. Support for the iPad is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2013.
- Toshiba's Strata CIX-based UC solution requires the integration of various servers to achieve full UC functionality. While Toshiba's prices for basic voice functionality are price-competitive within the SMB market, a modular approach that requires the integration of multiple servers to obtain UC functionality and separate license fees for each element can add significant cost and complexity for customers and partners.
- While most of Toshiba's authorized dealers have received or are in the process of receiving IPedge certification, prospects should ensure a specific partner has the expertise to install an IPedge solution before moving forward with an IPedge deployment.
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.