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Critical Capabilities for Unified Communications

Archived Published: 18 August 2015 ID: G00269472

Analyst(s):

Summary

Changes in the ways people work together are redefining how IT leaders should assess the product capabilities of unified communications providers. This is placing an increased focus on single-vendor platforms to meet the majority of core UC functional requirements.

Overview

Key Findings

  • Leading unified communications vendors' suite capabilities are maturing, such that many will satisfy IT leaders' requirements to deploy single-vendor solutions spanning on-premises and cloud infrastructures.

  • Client applications for PCs and mobile devices (such as tablets and smartphones) will still be required, because Web real-time communications is in its infancy.

  • Desktop and mobile videoconferencing are becoming increasingly key components of UC solutions, as is the integration of desktop solutions with group video systems.

  • End-of-support notices for legacy PBX platforms, as well as the desire not to invest in new IP-PBX platforms, are driving interest in UC suite solutions.

Recommendations

  • Determine whether your user groups would benefit more from a telephony-centric or a collaboration-centric approach when selecting a single UC platform.

  • Assess traditional communications practices to determine whether the telephony and conferencing capabilities offered by your proposed UC vendor are good enough to drive a single-platform approach.

  • Evaluate hybrid solutions of blended on-premises and cloud capabilities when there is greater demand for collaboration with external parties, or when WAN capacity limits the broader adoption of internal multiparty sessions.

What You Need to Know

This year's focus for Critical Capabilities in Unified Communications includes a reassessment of all capability ratings against revised definitions. Therefore, it's inappropriate to compare this year's performance with last year's ratings to define progress.

In our analysis, all of the vendors listed in the Magic Quadrant have all of the core unified communications (UC) capabilities:

  • Telephony

  • Conferencing

  • Instant messaging and presence

  • Clients

However, not all of these have been tightly integrated as a single suite. In some cases, vendors use partners to complete a total solution or, in other cases, they use standards to integrate their separate products together.

Although both of these have been useful strategies for adding capabilities to established platforms in place of a rip-and-replace approach, we are increasingly seeing a need for organizations to focus the vendor selection process on providers with more tightly integrated suite capabilities, to enable a more intuitive user experience, while addressing the challenges of reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for maintaining separate product platforms. In this year's Critical Capabilities research, the focus for rating favors all the core UC capabilities as a single unified suite.

Although the four use cases from last year remain, we have added a 10th critical capability: continuous unified communications and collaboration (UCC). This adds context-enabled, synchronous flows or projects. We do not yet regard this capability as one of the core requirements of a UC suite; however, we are seeing increased interest in some of these capabilities.

The need to blend on-premises capabilities with the cloud continues to be important. We see this offering of hybrid environments as satisfying organizations' requirements for more-managed service, as well as the need to fill in the gaps in networking capacity and the shortfalls in interoperability for external collaboration (see "Hype Cycle for Unified Communications and Collaboration, 2015" ). This is different from the requirements of a wholly cloud-based capability, in which the entire solution is satisfied by an externally hosted infrastructure (see "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, North America With Additional Regional Presence" ).

Organizations should continue to select an anchor vendor for their UC environments, because this will offer a more consistent user experience, with a lower TCO than maintaining integration with competing suppliers. However, taking into account how user requirements are different, it is equally important to consider integration and interoperability, where a multivendor environment is still required.

UC is, in most cases, a Mode 1 initiative within a bimodal IT strategy (see "Leverage Bimodal IT Methods to Advance UCC" ). UC platforms are sourced, managed and supported as a core IT responsibility. Although this is a formula that both suppliers and customers are comfortable with, the opportunity to address Mode 2 bimodal IT initiatives will be increasingly important in addressing user requirements and group collaboration requirements.

Analysis

This research is intended to help organizations define their requirements and select specific products that match their needs as aligned with one of the use cases. This research provides an overview of the UC products of the vendors included in the "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications." It evaluates their effectiveness in addressing users' needs in four use cases :

  • A full UCC environment with strong requirements for telephony

  • A full UCC environment with strong requirements for collaboration

  • An anchor vendor with the ability to integrate with complementary or competing vendors

  • A hybrid implementation to take advantage of on-premises and cloud capabilities, integrated as a common use case

This research differs from the "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications," in that the focus is on product capability, rather than on the broader set of evaluation criteria for vision and execution in a Magic Quadrant. This research is intended to help organizations assess product capabilities against a set of user requirements aligned with one or more of the defined use cases.

Critical Capabilities Use-Case Graphics

Figure 1. Vendors' Product Scores for the Full UC With Strong Telephony Requirement Use Case
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Figure 2. Vendors' Product Scores for the Full UC With Strong Collaboration Requirement Use Case
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Figure 3. Vendors' Product Scores for the Ability to Work With Complementary Vendors Use Case
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Figure 4. Vendors' Product Scores for the Ability to Offer Hybrid Solutions Use Case
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Vendors

ALE Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Suite

Paris-based ALE is 85% privately owned by China Huaxin and 15% owned by Alcatel-Lucent. ALE's Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Suite (OTS) is the flagship multidevice, multimedia UC suite. It supports the full range of core UC capabilities, from basic telephony to multiparty conferencing.

The OpenTouch platform (see Table 1) for enterprises was launched in 2011, followed by the cloud variant in 2013. OpenTouch is available through ALE's partner network, which has its strengths in Europe, but includes global representation.

Table 1.   Details on ALE Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Suite Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

OTS maintains a rich set of telephony features that support a range of users; however, it is limited in scale to 5,000 users. OmniPCX Enterprise (OXE) complements OTS for greater scale with just the enterprise telephony-centric requirements.

Conferencing

OTS fully supports audio, Web and videoconferencing requirements as a single application, employing session shift to move among devices and communication modalities. Partner Lifesize is required to scale videoconferencing to beyond 188 participants.

Messaging

Unified messaging (UM) is integrated into OTS, or it can be centralized as part of a scalable OXE Communications Server network. UM is a consistent experience across all ALE devices and applications, and it supports synchronized messaging with Microsoft Exchange Server and Google Mail.

Instant Messaging and Presence

IM and presence are native capabilities of OTS and are supported across all devices. Embedded federation supports XMPP and SIMPLE-compliant services.

Clients

Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Conversation is a strong user experience for OTS spanning PC clients, browsers and mobile devices. It supports all OTS UC capabilities securely, and it integrates with collaboration applications from Microsoft, IBM and Google. A "freemium" version, OpenTouch Conversation, Entry will be launched in 4Q15.

Interoperability/
Integration

OTS integration approach favors open standards, using published APIs where possible. REST is now the preferred flavor of Web services implementation.

Administration

OmniVista 8770 Network Management System (NMS) provides centralized administration and management for all ALE UC applications and Lifesize for videoconferencing. Alcatel-Lucent VitalSuite for analytics and business intelligence (BI) on network performance is now sourced from former parent company Alcatel-Lucent.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

OTS deployments span on-premises and hybrid cloud within the same logical deployment or network, with all components virtualized with VMware or Hyper-V. Availability of the cloud hybrid is constrained by a lack of partner deployment worldwide.

Mobility Support

The focus for mobility is on enabling smartphones and tablets to be used with OTS messaging and voice, and videoconferencing applications specifically with tablets. Development is limited to iOS and Android OSs.

Continuous UCC

There is no support for continuous UCC applications — either in-house development or with partners.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Avaya Aura Platform

Avaya is a U.S.-based, privately held company with headquarters in Santa Clara, California, with ownership by private equity firms TPG and Silver Lake Partners. Avaya offers a range of products targeting specific market segments, with scale varying by platform. Avaya Aura is the flagship solution that includes telephony and UC. It comprises Avaya Aura Platform (AAP), Applications, Engagement Development Platform (EDP) and Scopia Video Conferencing.

The Avaya Aura architecture (see Table 2) was launched in 2009. It is available primarily through its global channel partner network or from Avaya directly.

Table 2.   Details on Avaya Aura Platform Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

Avaya Aura Communication Manager includes a rich set of enterprise telephony features as applications of AAP, which provides Session Manager, System Manager and Presence Services. Telephony is an integrated, scalable capability of Aura Platform.

Conferencing

Avaya Aura Conferencing supports audio, video and Web conferencing for as many as 15,000 concurrent sessions. It integrates with Communication Manager through SIP. Avaya Scopia is a separate videoconferencing solution that includes some integration with Avaya Conferencing for the sharing of system resources. A single unified platform for conferencing services is under development.

Messaging

Avaya Aura Messaging is a dedicated, SIP-based voice-messaging application that integrates with Avaya and third-party telephony platforms supporting as many as 30,000 users in a single system.

Instant Messaging and Presence

Avaya Aura Presence Services is a core entitlement of AAP for presence and IM services that scales to 125,000 users across Avaya clients and endpoints in multiple clusters. Avaya Multimedia Messaging extends services to files, pictures and video, and interoperates with Presence Services through XMPP and SIMPLE.

Clients

Avaya Communicator is the single client interface for accessing Avaya UC applications, a consolidation of earlier desktop and mobile clients (One-X and Flare Experience). Avaya Scopia has a separate set of clients, although these are planned to be integrated into Communicator as a future initiative. Avaya Communicator for Lync and Skype for Business is an updated version of Avaya Client Applications that integrates Avaya UC through the Microsoft Lync and Skype clients.

Interoperability/
Integration

Avaya Engagement Development Platform (formerly Avaya Collaboration Environment) is Avaya's core approach to integration, with "snap ins" for reusable integration capabilities. Avaya uses open standards and published APIs to integrate its own range of UC platforms, as well as other products. Avaya Video Gateway provides interoperability with competing immersive telepresence systems. The acquisition of Esna Technologies will boost its integration capabilities with Google and other Web-based applications.

Administration

Avaya Aura System Manager provides centralized administration and management for the Avaya Aura core, network and applications. Additional elements are available for performance and fault management. Separately, bandwidth management/access management is carried out with Aura Session Manager; Avaya Scopia Management is another administration platform for Scopia video.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

All applications in AAP can be virtualized with VMware for deployment between on-premises and hybrid cloud environments. Avaya's approach to hybrid relies on its partner network, as well as its own growing capabilities, and, because it was later to market with commercial offers for partners, the hybrid option is still maturing.

Mobility Support

The mobility focus is on enabling Aura Platform applications to work on smartphones and tablets. Avaya Engagement Development Platform provides server-side applications to enable voice calling on mobile devices that support HTML5/WebRTC. Avaya Communicator for mobile is limited to iOS and Android OSs.

Continuous UCC

There is limited support beyond some legacy capabilities for continuous UCC applications — either in-house development or with partners.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Cisco Business Edition 7000

Cisco is a U.S.-based public company with headquarters in San Jose, California. Its Unified Communication solution for enterprises centers primarily on the Business Edition 7000 (BE7K) a packaged collaboration solution. Cisco's UC solutions are built on Cisco Unified Call Manager (CUCM) as a single, multimodal architecture supporting all the core capabilities of a UC platform, meeting a range of user requirements, from basic telephony to multimodal conferencing and high-end telepresence capabilities.

CUCM was launched in 2006 as Cisco Unified Call Manager 5.0 and is available globally through Cisco's channel partner network (see Table 3).

Table 3.   Details on Cisco Business Edition 7000 Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

BE7K provides a rich set of enterprise telephony requirements, optimized for deployments of more than 1,000 users. Telephony is an integrated component of the UC suite.

Conferencing

A number of conferencing capabilities are supported by an integrated user experience. WebEx is primarily audio, video and Web conferencing, deployed mostly as a hybrid cloud; Immersive TelePresence uses the BE7K switching infrastructure and multipoint control units (MCUs). Cisco Collaboration Meeting Room connects third-party platforms and standard endpoints.

Messaging

Cisco Unity Connection is an application for voice and unified messaging accessible from Cisco devices, Web and mobile clients, and email. Unity Connection integrates with Microsoft Exchange and O365. Integration with Google uses HTML marked-up SMTP notification, Donoma Software or Esna.

Instant Messaging and Presence

Cisco Unified IM and Presence service is an integrated capability of BE7K. Cisco WebEx Messenger Presence and IM Service is a cloud delivery. Messages are accessible across the range of Jabber and XMPP-compliant clients.

Clients

Cisco Jabber is the flagship client supporting all core UC capabilities. It is available on Windows and Mac PC platforms, and is limited to iOS and Android mobile OSs. Cisco Expressway is required to connect remote clients securely to BE7K without a VPN. Jabber for Instant Messaging is available enterprisewide at no extra license cost to customers that have a CUCM platform deployed.

Interoperability/
Integration

BE7K favors open standards and published APIs for integration and interoperability of messaging, voice and video communications. Cisco Collaboration Edge Architecture supports connectivity to Cisco's UC applications from internal and third-party platforms.

Administration

Cisco Prime Collaboration Standard is the provisioning and administration platform included in CUCM licensing options. Prime Collaboration Advanced is an additional cost option designed for multisite deployments that expands the functionality found in Standard and includes Prime Collaboration Analytics for deeper diagnostic capabilities and long-term reporting.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

All of Cisco's UC software has been virtualized to run on VMware with the preferred Cisco Unified Computing System platform, although third-party server platforms are approved. All core UC capabilities are available as on-premises and hybrid cloud environments, with selected Cisco partners worldwide. The most common hybrid is premises-based BE7K, with cloud-based WebEx for conferencing.

Mobility Support

Focus for mobility is on enabling BE7K UC applications to be accessed by Cisco Jabber with smartphone and tablets. The strongest user experience is with iOS and Android OSs. There is no support for Windows Mobile.

Continuous UCC

Cisco Spark is the mobile-centric, secure group messaging and video calling platform for team work, enabling content to be shared in "Spark Rooms," with context and notification of new content and updates. Spark is a freemium offer that is cloud-based and supported in iOS and Android mobile OSs, as well as Windows PC, Mac and browser environments.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Huawei eSpace

Huawei is a privately owned company headquartered in China. Its flagship UC solution centers on eSpace, a carrier-grade platform that unifies the multiple communications channels of telephony, IM, Web conferencing, audioconferencing and videoconferencing. eSpace is an IMS-based architecture, powered by Huawei's intelligent media processing and transmission engine (HME). Its modular design makes it scalable to as many as 400,000 users.

eSpace 2.0 was launched in 2012 (see Table 4). More than 70% of Huawei's business is in the Asia/Pacific region and China; however, the company is increasing its presence in the emerging markets of Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. It sells directly and through distributors in most markets worldwide.

Table 4.   Details on Huawei eSpace Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

eSpace U series gateways and eSpace Unified Session Manager provide telephony features, call control and session management. Telephony is a dedicated application, but integrated with an enterprise version of IMS Core and eSpace UC suite.

Conferencing

eSpace Meeting Media Server (EMMS) is a dedicated application supporting audio, video and Web conferencing, accessed via eSpace UC endpoints and U series gateways for audio. EMMS connects with Huawei Telepresence System, using VP series MCU for immersive video. Videoconferencing supports standard protocols to interoperate with Cisco, Polycom, Avaya and Lifesize platforms.

Messaging

eSpace UMS is a unified messaging platform that supports voice mail, fax mail, and mobile-based SMS and MMS. It integrates with Movius UMS and synchronizes with Microsoft Exchange.

Instant Messaging and Presence

Presence is an application of the eSpace UC suite, and messaging is achieved using PC, mobile and Web clients. It includes bidirectional SMS-IM, and messages are encrypted for security. Chat history is retained between device logins, and rich presence supports location-based services. Only SIMPLE is supported for client access.

Clients

eSpace Desktop is the Windows PC client supporting the eSpace UC feature set. There is no support for Mac. eSpace Mobile is the app for iOS and Android smartphones. eSpace Mobile HD is the app for iOS and Android tablets. Mobile clients also support corporate sharing of pictures and documents. All access methods support encryption (TLS/SRTP). Languages are limited to Chinese, English, French, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

Interoperability/
Integration

eSDK Server provides a development mode based on Web APIs. It provides RESTful or Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) interfaces. There are preintegrated plug-ins for Microsoft Lync, Outlook and Internet Explorer, and IBM Sametime. eSDK for eSpace Mobile enables integration of UC features into Android and iOS mobile devices.

Administration

eSight UCC supports the management and maintenance of all elements of eSpace UC solution and the automated deployment of IP phones. It also shows entire network topology and monitoring of end-to-end quality of service (QoS), maintains and configures servers/endpoints, and supports integration with the third-party management system via open standards.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

All of eSpace UC software components can be virtualized. The MCU requires dedicated hardware. As a major supplier to communications service provider (CSP) markets, eSpace UC has been deployed in cloud and hybrid environments. The availability of cloud services is limited by market penetration.

Mobility Support

Mobility focus is on enabling eSpace UC applications to be used with eSpace mobile clients. There is also greater focus on integrating with mobile networks, location-based services and messaging protocols.

Continuous UCC

There is no focus on enabling continuous UCC, as an in-house development or with partners.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

IBM Sametime

IBM is a U.S.-based, publicly listed, global company with its headquarters in New York. IBM Sametime is its flagship UC product, providing scalable and secure enterprise communications and collaboration. It is available in a variety of deployment options for on-premises and cloud platforms and is increasingly being offered packaged with IBM Connections and its Social Business approach to collaboration.

Sametime 6.5 (see Table 5) was launched in February 2004 and is available globally through IBM directly and channel partners.

Table 5.   Details on IBM Sametime Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT) is a middleware capability that provides single number reach and intelligent call routing. SUT doesn't support broad enterprise telephony features for which a separate IP-PBX platform is required. Organizations could also consider, where available, IBM MobileFirst Collaboration Services. This cloud-based UC solution includes enterprise telephony from Unify.

Conferencing

IBM Sametime Conference is a multimodal capability supporting IM, voice, video and Web conferencing, accessed from Sametime clients on PCs, browsers and mobile devices. Sametime VMCU is H.264 and SIP-based and can support as many as 2,000 audioconference users. For room-based video systems, Sametime integrates with Avaya, Vidyo, Cisco and Polycom platforms.

Messaging

IBM Unified Messaging provides scalable voice mail and unified messaging that integrates with IBM Notes and IBM Sametime. It is also connected to multiple PBX platforms and supports integration to other voice mail platforms, as well as partner plug-ins from Avaya, Cisco, ThinkRite and ITboons.

Instant Messaging and Presence

IM and presence are core features of Sametime, which supports rich presence (including geographic location) across multiple devices in both online and offline mode. Sametime also supports group, broadcast and persistent chat sessions. Federation is supported by SIMPLE and XMPP.

Clients

Sametime Connect is the PC and Mac-based client that natively supports audio and video, as well as plug-ins from partners. Sametime Mobile supports iOS and Android. Sametime Web client runs in a REST services runtime on browser. For telephony integration, the SUT client is required for call control, in addition to Sametime clients. Third-party SIP devices cannot be connected to the SIP Proxy registrar, but must use SUT.

Interoperability/
Integration

There is a strong integration of Sametime with IBM Connections for deeper enterprise collaboration capabilities across the IBM portfolio. IBM relies on Web and communications standards for interoperability and vendor integration for federation (e.g., NextPlane and Blue Jeans). The Sametime software development kit (SDK) provides client- and service-side toolkits for more-complex integrations.

Administration

A number of separate products support the administration and management of the Sametime portfolio. Sametime System Console deploys and manages features, servers and policies. The IBM Serviceability Tool provides diagnostics and configuration validation. IBM Sametime Meetings Statistics Utility samples availability and activity of rooms and users. Sametime Bandwidth Manager provides network capacity and control. IBM Connections Suite includes BI powered by IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. The IBM Intelligent Operations Center and IBM Verse include analytics of channel activities.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

The IBM Sametime suite supports both VMware and KVM for virtualization, except SUT, which supports only VMware. IBM Connections Cloud is the primary offer for messaging and meetings, with Sametime delivered as a private cloud or an on-premises integrated solution. IBM MobileFirst Collaboration Services is a telephony and unified messaging solution with SUT call control for Cisco and Unify enterprise telephony environments.

Mobility Support

Mobility focus is on enabling IBM Chat (for messaging, voice and peer-to-peer video) and IBM meetings as separate mobile applications for Android and iOS. Sametime mobile clients for same OSs can be designated as preferred devices for SUT configurations.

Continuous UCC

IBM Connections is the platform for the support of continuous UCC, with content available in persistent meetings. The on-premises deployments can assign multiple meeting rooms per user, while the cloud is limited to just one meeting room per user.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center

Interactive Intelligence is a U.S.-headquartered, publicly held company, with shares traded on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. Interactive Intelligence's Customer Interaction Center (CIC) offers tight integration of UC with its suite of contact center applications and Microsoft Lync. The company is also gaining market traction with its Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) cloud-based product.

CIC (see Table 6) is an SIP-based, single software architecture that supports some UC capabilities natively and others through partnerships, particularly Microsoft. The company is best known for providing contact center solutions; however, its references have equal, if not larger, back-office and enterprise UC deployments. CIC was launched in 1997 and is available directly or through partners across the globe.

Table 6.   Details on Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

CIC includes a comprehensive set of enterprise telephony features and call control for enterprise and back-office communications needs, accessible through partner SIP devices, analog phones, SIP softphone, PC and mobile clients.

Conferencing

CIC includes built-in multiparty "meet me" audioconferencing with drag-and-drop capabilities for ad hoc sessions. For Web and videoconferencing, CIC supports tight integration to Microsoft Lync. There is interoperability with Polycom video rooms and customized services integration with Vidyo. CIC does not have its own MCU capability for transcoding video.

Messaging

CIC's unified messaging capability supports synchronization of voice mail, faxes, IM conversations and call recordings with Microsoft Exchange, IBM Notes and SMTP/IMAP compliant servers.

Instant Messaging and Presence

CIC has a native, proprietary IM capability, but relies more on integration with Microsoft Lync for a complete UC solution. CIC has a rich presence capability that can be embedded in third-party applications using APIs. There is no support for XMPP or SIMPLE.

Clients

Interaction Client (IC) is available as a .NET client application that is to be replaced by Interaction Desktop in CIC 2015 R3. It replaces .NET editing in CIC 2016. RI is the next-generation client, providing access to manage call direction and messaging features of CIC. There is also a browser edition for both PC and mobile devices (e.g., iPad, iPhone and Android). There is no video or voice over IP (VoIP) support in IC.

Interoperability/
Integration

CIC has a set of Web services tools (e.g., SOAP, WSDL and XML) commonly used in its contact center solutions to integrate with business applications and other data sources. The ICELib API enables the CIC features available through the Interaction Client .NET edition to be accessible in third-party applications. It also has a broad range of out-of-the-box integrations with CRM software applications. Interactive Intelligence MarketPlace is an innovative, virtual storefront that offers applications and packaged integrations for CIC environment.

Administration

Users have a single interface for administration and reporting on all application modules applicable for UC capabilities. There is no administration or reporting of activity on partner products, such as Microsoft Lync. Analytics provided by Interaction Recorder and Interaction Analyzer are more commonly used for contact center applications.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

CIC components can be virtualized on Hyper-V and VMware platforms, except for media processing (e.g., audio, fax, conferencing, speech and call analysis). CIC is available as an on-premises or cloud solution. A hybrid capability locates media servers on-premises, but with call control centralized in the cloud.

Mobility Support

The focus for mobility is to support access to CIC call direction and messaging features via a mobile browser. Support for a VoIP call to the mobile device requires a third-party SIP client to be installed on the device. The Interaction Client provides only call direction. There is no support for video on mobile devices.

Continuous UCC

PureCloud Collaborate is a group chat, desktop-sharing, content management and videoconferencing capability that uses the Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. It includes integration with LinkedIn and connectors for Active Directory and enterprise email, content and HR applications, as well as integration with CIC. It is launched only in North America and Australia/New Zealand and is available as a freemium offer for Web, iOS and Android devices.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Microsoft Skype for Business

Microsoft is a U.S.-based, publicly listed, global company headquartered in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft Skype for Business (SfB) is an enterprise-ready UC platform that provides a consistent, single-client experience for presence, IM, voice, video and meeting on Android, iOS and Windows devices.

SfB is a component of Microsoft's UC approach, which combines strategies for a consistent experience across business and personal environments. SfB is a scalable, SIP-based architecture that evolved from Office Communications Server, which was launched in 2007. It is available directly from Microsoft and is supported by partners worldwide (see Table 7).

Table 7.   Details on Microsoft Skype for Business Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

Microsoft SfB includes a basic set of enterprise telephony features to satisfy back-office voice environments, but it depends on partners to satisfy some of the more-traditional operations (e.g., manager/administrator, switchboard and contact center).

Conferencing

Audio, video and Web conferencing are an integrated set of capabilities of SfB server, with ad hoc and scheduled conferences for as many as 1,000 participants, in addition to external Web and dial-in voice access via PSTN. Microsoft has released Surface Hub with Skype integrated and Skype Room Systems, providing a range of videoconferencing devices, including Polycom and Crestron. Polycom continues as the lead strategic partner for room-based video; however, the Video Interoperability Server provides integration with Cisco Unified Telepresence platforms.

Messaging

SfB unified messaging capability deposits voicemails directly into Exchange server, where they may be actioned and deleted as a single activity. Customers can operate unified messaging and have messages deposited in Exchange Online in Office 365. There is no support for non-Microsoft mail servers.

Instant Messaging and Presence

SfB provides a rich presence capability that includes Exchange calendar information. Presence can be federated with other SfB or Lync users across public and private domains. Users can connect with anyone in the Skype directory. There is a specification for limited federation with competitor IM and presence platforms with XMPP through SfB gateway.

Clients

SfB 2015 is available as a Windows PC client, and it will be rolled out across browser, Mac, Windows Mobile, iOS and Android platforms through 2H15. All clients support IM and presence, voice and video over IP and meetings. Smartphone clients support dial back in the event of poor Internet connectivity. It is anticipated that WebRTC won't be supported until 2016. SfB Basic is a free version of the client for Windows platform.

Interoperability/
Integration

Skype Developer Platform is a development environment with .NET and RESTful APIs and SDKs. APIs are implemented in HTML5 and JavaScript. The UC Web API has media stacks that include Lync and SfB codecs and transport protocols. The preferred development environment is Visual Studio 2013 or later, but other integrated development environments (IDEs) may be used. SfB includes direct SIP integration to qualified IP-PBX platforms, SIP trunking providers and media gateways, such as AudioCodes and Sonus. The "Call via Work" feature adds call-through for the PBX, while retaining call control on the SfB platform.

Administration

PowerShell is a scripting capability used to provide a single management interface to administer and manage multiple SfB services (including SfB Server 2015, System Center Operations and Watcher Nodes). Core to administering SfB is a consolidated Active Directory, with corporate information, configuration and authentication requests. There are also third-party management, provisioning and analytic tools. Microsoft has made investments in Nectar, Integrated Research and Unify Square. Microsoft has its own BI and analytics tools, which integrate with SfB.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

Skype for Business Server 2015 supports virtualization topologies for all workloads (IM and presence, conferencing, enterprise voice, monitoring, archiving and persistent chat) on Hyper-V platforms and other qualified third-party hypervisors, such as VMware. SfB supports split domains between on-premises and SfB Online to separate users or to separate functions (when PBX features are not provided in SfB Online). The capabilities between on-premises and the cloud are notably different by service feature and geography served.

Mobility Support

Mobility focus is on enabling the SfB UC feature set to be used across smartphone and tablet OSs; however, only Lync 2013 clients are available. There is a consistent user experience across iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms.

Continuous UCC

The functionality of continuous UCC can be seen in a number of product capabilities, in persistent group chat in SfB Server, persistent discussion groups in Office 365 Groups, Yammer (for private social networking, available as a cloud-based freemium option), and SfB clients for conferencing and presence. There is not yet a focus on a consolidated platform that encompasses all these capabilities.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Mitel MiCollab

Mitel is a global, publicly traded company, with headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario. Mitel's UC portfolio has a number of call control products; however, MiCollab remains the flagship product for integrated UC capabilities.

MiCollab is available as an on-premises or cloud proposition supporting the MiVoice platforms. MiCollab (see Table 8) has been available since 2013, previously as Mitel Application Suite, which was launched in 2008. It is a scalable appliance server architecture and is available mainly through partners on the global stage, although North America remains Mitel's largest market.

Table 8.   Details on Mitel MiCollab Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

MiCollab leverages tight integration with MiVoice Business and MiVoice MX-One to provide a deep feature set in a single configuration. MiVoice Business can scale to 128,000 users, whereas MiVoice MX-One reaches 500,000 users.

Conferencing

MiCollab enables scheduled and ad hoc conferences, desktop application sharing, limited multipoint videoconferencing, and Web-based collaboration for desktops, tablets and smartphones. The multiparty audioconferencing bridge built into MiCollab supports a maximum of 500 participants. The strategic partnership with Vidyo supports the integration of its virtual meeting rooms via the MiCollab Client. MiCollab also supports SIP-based desktop and mobile video for point to point. The Mitel MiVoice Videophone contains a four-party video bridge. Vidyo is required for extended, multiparty videoconferencing.

Messaging

MiCollab unified messaging provides integration with Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise, Microsoft Outlook, Office 365, Exchange 2013 and Google Mail with Message Waiting Indicator synchronization. When a high level of reliability is required, MiCollab Advanced Messaging is used to deliver a rich suite of UC applications beyond unified messaging (e.g., personal assistant, fax and speech). It also supports the same range of email server integration.

Instant Messaging and Presence

MiCollab provides secure IM with drag-and-drop document transfer, IM chat logging. MiCollab delivers presence status for voice, IM and video and enables users to manage presence status, based on calendar integration, time of day, day of week, or, for the mobile user, via location (e.g., GPS, 802.11 or Wi-Fi). The built-in presence proxy/aggregator uses the SIP/SIMPLE protocol with XMPP extensions.

Clients

MiCollab Client provides access to the range of UC capabilities (IM/presence, audioconferencing, point-to-point video, and Web collaboration). The client is available for Windows PC, with a Web client for Mac. Mobile client support is for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10+. iOS, Android and Windows Phone clients support wireless phone and video calls, voice over data channel, voice calls over Wi-Fi and voice via callback.

Interoperability/
Integration

The Mitel Open Integration Gateway (OIG) for MiVoice Business provides telephony-centric API functionality for development with MiCollab. The MiCollab SDK is intended for programmers integrating clients into custom solutions. Based on Microsoft .NET 2 platform, it exposes classes and members through the Component Object Module (COM) platform. There are also native plug-in integrations for IBM Lotus Notes, Microsoft Lync, Salesforce and Google.

Administration

Mitel supports integrated provisioning, administration and maintenance of MiVoice and MiCollab through utilities that consolidate components into a single system. Data replication is automatically managed among multiple systems, and includes support for Active Directory, LDAP and SNMP. Support for other MiVoice products is not included. MiCollab's "collaboration statistics" provides reporting and remote notification of the overall collaboration usage by time of day, including usage and quality of MiCollab Clients. MiVoice Business Dashboard provides call statistics for enhancing call processing and trunk utilization by a business.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

All Mitel UC platforms can be virtualized on VMware vSphere infrastructure. MiVoice Business and MiCollab are also supported in Hyper-V server. MiCloud is Mitel's cloud approach for MiCollab with a common set of software for on-premises and cloud environments, but split by service or feature. Mitel's hybrid is only feasible with the MiVoice/MiCollab portfolio.

Mobility Support

The mobility focus for MiCollab is to support messaging and telephony features across multiple mobile operating platforms (e.g., iOS iPad and iPhone, Android; Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10). iOS and Android clients support voice and video over IP, as well as callback. GPS and location awareness enable an enhanced call treatment.

Continuous UCC

There is no focus on enabling continuous UCC as an in-house development or with partners.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

NEC Univerge 3C

NEC is a global provider of IT services and products that is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. NEC's flagship UC offering, Univerge 3C (previously Spericall, from the 2007 acquisition of Sphere Communications), is a SIP-based, distributed IT services platform that operates on a standards-based and virtualized infrastructure. It delivers a full set of UC capabilities in a single application platform.

Univerge 3C (see Table 9) operates across on-premises, cloud or hybrid environments and supports customers ranging from small or midsize businesses (SMBs) to large enterprises. Univerge 3C was launched in 2012, and has its strengths in North America and Western Europe; however, it is available worldwide, mostly through channel partners.

Table 9.   Details on NEC Univerge 3C Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

Univerge 3C (U3C) supports a rich feature set for enterprise telephony users on a SIP-based, scalable application platform. It supports its own range of handsets, as well as those from Polycom. It also supports integration with its SV series of IP-PBX platforms.

Conferencing

U3C Collaboration Meeting Manager (CMM) server supports as many as 500 simultaneous conference participants, active in any combination of meetings for screen sharing, group chat and remote desktop control. With the integrated multipoint audio and videoconferencing, users may join sessions from multiple devices with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android OSs. Video is displayed within Collaboration Manager and can include as many as 300 concurrent video sessions, with a maximum of 16 participants per session. U3C supports Polycom video devices, room systems, telepresence and MCUs.

Messaging

Unified messaging is integrated into the U3C software. It can also be integrated into email systems (e.g., Microsoft Exchange and Exchange Online) and can be distributed across an enterprise network. A user's calendar events can be input into a user's aggregated presence status on U3C.

Instant Messaging and Presence

IM and presence are integral to U3C software and are accessible from the desktop and mobile UC clients, as well as UC-enabled applications. The UC client provides secure, IM capabilities with other users on the 3C system. XMPP is supported for external federation.

Clients

UC clients are based on a thin-client architecture and use a Web-centric API layer. Although this delivers a common user experience across all OSs, it limits the ability of the client to provide a full set of UC services. Audio and Web media have been built on Adobe flash media technology, but they are in the process of migrating to HTML and WebRTC.

Interoperability/
Integration

The 3C system architecture offers a standards-based application delivery model. The full range of UCC services offered by 3C is available through published APIs, based on WSDL with SOAP XML.

Administration

The Univerge 3C software uses a single, unified configuration database, which is replicated across multiple server nodes of a large-scale 3C system. It provides access to administration and management capabilities across core UC and communications portfolio of products. Analytics capabilities recently added devices and application utilization to help administrators understand performance and capacity requirements.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

All U3C capabilities can be virtualized under VMware and Hyper-V platforms. U3C can operate in various hybrid configurations, but requires partners to fulfill on cloud offers. For enterprises that want to operate their distributed offices with a combination of cloud and on-premises systems, Univerge 3C software can operate as a single system. New cloud offerings — Cloud Contact Center, audio and collaboration and emergency notification — were launched as hybrid options. These services are provided to on-premises customers through C-LINK connection.

Mobility Support

The mobility focus is to support call control and messaging for U3C and SIP-based VoIP across iOS and Android OSs. There is a separate client for Collaboration Meeting Manager.

Continuous UCC

There is no focus on enabling continuous UCC as an in-house development or with partners.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

ShoreTel Connect

ShoreTel is a publicly traded company that is headquartered in California, U.S. Its flagship UC solution is ShoreTel Connect, which offers integrated IP telephony with IM, conferencing and collaboration, unified messaging, enterprise contact center, and mobility capabilities.

All ShoreTel Connect UC applications (see Table 10) can be virtualized on general-purpose servers or as an appliance-based architecture provided on ShoreTel hardware. ShoreTel's main market is North America; however, it has international capabilities in Europe and Asia. ShoreTel Connect is an evolution of its UC platform, which was launched in 2008 and is available exclusively through channel partners.

Table 10.   Details on ShoreTel Connect Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

ShoreTel voice switches (physical or virtual) enable call control, various advanced telephony and UC features, and access to PSTN/ITSP. ShoreTel Mobility enables UC applications on a variety of smartphones and tablets.

Conferencing

Multiparty audioconferencing is a native feature of ShoreTel Connect and can support up to 1,000 users in physical or virtual server configuration. The same architecture supports Web conferencing. There is no native support for multiparty videoconferencing, although there is support for interoperability with Polycom and Lifesize room-based systems and MCUs.

Messaging

ShoreTel Connect's native unified messaging capability provides a range of voice messaging needs, as well as support for fax and email integration with Outlook and Gmail. It also integrates as a stand-alone solution with other platforms. ShoreTel Scribe converts voice messages to text and sends them to the user's email address.

Instant Messaging and Presence

ShoreTel Connect's IM and presence solution is based on the XMPP protocol and provides peer-to-peer and multiparty IM, presence privacy, management, telephony presence, detailed presence and IM logging. Conversations that start in IM can now be escalated to voice or conference session.

Clients

ShoreTel Connect is the client experience for Windows, Mac, Web and mobile (iOS and Android). ShoreTel conferencing and the ShoreTel Connect Mobility clients incorporate audio media engine, using technology supported by the WebRTC.

Interoperability/
Integration

ShoreTel's portfolio of software applications enables customers to integrate core business processes with the telephony features of ShoreTel Connect. These offerings include automated call recording, emergency notification, Active Directory Import, and outbound campaign interactive voice response (IVR). It also supports integrations with CRM and business process integration solutions.

Administration

ShoreTel Connect Director is used to configure, manage and maintain all aspects of the ShoreTel Connect system. ShoreTel Connect Director also includes maintenance pages that let you view status and issue maintenance commands for system components, including remote servers. ShoreTel customers can perform administration, monitoring, diagnostics and reporting, using a single Web-based management interface. There is little focus on analytics outside call accounting.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

ShoreTel Connect fully supports VMware hypervisor for all UC system components. It also supports Hyper-V for its server-based applications (system administration, unified messaging, calendar integration and remote servers). ShoreTel Connect Hybrid offers the ability to combine on-premises and cloud deployments with a unified dial plan and feature transparency. ShoreTel Connect provides limited functions of a cloud platform to support hybrid working. These include ShoreTel Fax, ShoreTel Scribe and ShoreTel Mobility.

Mobility Support

ShoreTel Mobility is a multimodal UC client that integrates with the ShoreTel PBX/UC system, as well as the ShoreTel IM server and Microsoft Lync for IM and presence support. ShoreTel Mobility features consumer-easy video calling, client-to-client, client-to-desktop and client-to-conference room system. It supports a broad range of iOS, Android and BlackBerry mobile devices.

Continuous UCC

There is no focus on enabling continuous UCC as an in-house development or with partners.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Unify OpenScape

Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise Communications) is a Munich-headquartered, privately owned joint venture between private investor The Gores Group and Siemens. OpenScape Enterprise is the application suite for medium-to-large enterprises.

OpenScape Enterprise is a highly scalable, SIP-based architecture that provides a range of applications, including voice, UC, Web conferencing, unified messaging, video, mobility, contact center, branch solutions, security and management applications. The majority of Unify's business is with European customers; however, it is established in most regions worldwide. OpenScape (see Table 11) is available directly from Unify and through channel partners.

Table 11.   Details on Unify OpenScape Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

Details

Telephony

OpenScape Enterprise relies on tight integration with OpenScape Voice for the enterprise telephony feature set. It also provides integration with its own legacy PBX products, such as OpenScape 4000 and third-party PBX platforms.

Conferencing

OpenScape UC is an audioconferencing bridge that supports high-definition audio for scheduled or ad hoc sessions to more than 6,000 concurrent audio sessions. Integrated with OpenScape Media Server, it also provides multiparty videoconferencing. OpenScape Voice controls voice and video on the same platform. Openscape Web Collaboration is a secure, cloud-based Web collaboration platform that supports file sharing, co-browsing, IM, audio and videoconferencing from browser and mobile clients.

Messaging

OpenScape Xpressions is the unified messaging platform for synchronizing voice mail with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino and other IMAP4 or POP3 services with a connector. Messages can be retrieved from email inboxes, OpenScape UC clients or the OpenScape speech-enabled voice portal.

Instant Messaging and Presence

OpenScape includes peer-to-peer and multiparty IM capabilities, including the ability to federate with external XMPP-capable solutions. Rich presence includes the view of contacts, teams, location, time zone and busy/free notification. OpenScape also has NextPlane's UC Exchange services for federated presence.

Clients

OpenScape UC has a range of desktop, Web and mobile clients for different UC services. OpenScape Personal is a Windows-based SIP client for voice and as much as three-party videoconferencing on OpenScape Voice platform. Multiparty conferencing requires OpenScape UC Application client available as a PC or Web. OpenScape Mobile client supports multiparty voice and videoconferencing for iOS, Android Windows Mobile and BlackBerry mobile operating systems, while OpenScape Web Collaboration Mobile client is a separate interface for the OpenScape Web Collaboration platform.

Interoperability/
Integration

OpenScape Fusion is an approach to integrating with third-party environments. It contains prebuilt app plug-ins that support integration with Microsoft, IBM and Google applications. Custom integrations are feasible with the SDK and Unify's professional or OpenScape developer program and community.

Administration

OpenScape Common Management Platform provides a single point of entry to multiple applications used to provide configuration, administration, fault management and accounting for the OpenScape Enterprise suite of capabilities. It supports SOA-based interfaces for integration with third-party applications. Analytics and Business Intelligence is a professional service offered by Unify to assess user behavior and utilization of UC.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

All the components of OpenScape Enterprise can run in a VMware hypervisor. OpenScape Web Collaboration can be offered as a public or private cloud solution, and licenses can transition from on-premises to the cloud through the service portal. OpenScape Voice and OpenScape Enterprise are mainly deployed on-premises, and cloud availability is subject to partner hosting. The integration of hybrid offers is consolidated in the OpenScape clients.

Mobility Support

The mobility focus is to provide call control and SIP-based VoIP and video for the OpenScape Voice and a broader set of UC features with the OpenScape Enterprise platform. Mobile clients support iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone OSs. There is a separate client for the OpenScape Web Collaboration platform.

Continuous UCC

Circuit is Unify's cloud-based, continuous UCC capability, featuring high-definition audio and videoconferencing, screen sharing, group messaging and document coediting. It is supported in iOS and Android mobile OSs, as well as PC browser environments via WebRTC. Circuit is launched in U.S. and 26 countries in Europe, and is available as a 30-day free trial globally. A freemium offer is planned for September 2015.

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Context

Most IT organizations have two key strategies for UC:

  • To achieve product rationalization, replacing discrete communications services with a more integrated and easier-to-use management capability

  • To enable their users to work in different ways, challenge traditional processes and procedures, and collaborate more effectively, while adopting more-flexible working

Gartner client inquiry trends show that product and vendor consolidation continues to be a key theme in managing IT expenditures. Increasingly importantly, when extending UC to multiple groups and teams, it represents an increase in expenditures over less-functional, stand-alone, discrete platforms. Cost savings in product rationalization can only be achieved if the proposed vendor or vendors collectively meet all of the users' requirements. Understanding the capabilities of vendors and how they compare with their competitors helps organizations decide whether they can pursue a single-vendor strategy. However, limitations in capabilities, given the use-case scenarios, may mean they will need to pursue a multivendor strategy that will lead to higher administration and management costs for supporting multiple and, sometimes, competing vendors.

The drive to support organizational change in working practices and to enable more-effective collaboration among remote coworkers will have a higher profile with business leaders than product rationalization. Here, the IT organization's focus shifts from saving money in the infrastructure to enabling better business capabilities, for which the benefit justifies additional expenditure on technology. Integration with business processes and applications becomes more important, as speed and ease of user adoption become essential to maximize the benefit of the change in operating practices. Evaluating product capabilities is essential input to both strategies and to developing a roadmap for UC.

Product/Service Class Definition

Gartner defines UC products (i.e., equipment, software and services) as those that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communication methods. This can include the control, management and integration of these methods. UC products integrate communication 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. These products often make up a stand-alone suite, or they may be a portfolio of integrated applications and platforms spanning multiple vendors. Historically, UC has been deployed to extend and add functionality to communication investments. Increasingly, we are seeing it deployed to replace legacy investments — hence, the shift of focus in this research in favor of UC suite solutions, addressing all enterprise users' communications requirements.

Some UC products may extend UC outside company boundaries. This can enhance communication among organizations and support interactions among large public communities, as well as for personal communications.

Critical Capabilities Definition

UC comprises a wide range of functionalities. This research examines 10 critical UC capabilities that can be provided as one of three offers:

  • An all-encompassing suite solution comprising all core UC capabilities

  • Integration of discrete, core UC capabilities from the same vendor

  • Integration capability for partner or competitor UC capabilities

Call control or, more relevant, session control is the focus for all competitors in the UC market. Integrations work best when one supplier owns session control and others integrate with it. When two or more suppliers compete for session control, we have found that the overall optimum solution is deficient in all integrated product sets. Consequently, this year's critical capabilities have been revised to focus on providing all capabilities with a single suite product. As organizations look to consolidate legacy product portfolios (see "Start 2015 With Your PBX Retirement Strategy to Help Focus on UC Requirements" ), the importance of the UC suite to meet all user requirements, from the most basic of back-office workers to the more-complex needs of the digital workplace employee (see "Digital Workplace Employees Need an Enriched Voice to Collaborate More Effectively" ), is growing.

Telephony

Telephony incorporates an extended set of voice features used by different groups of employees to manage telephone calls in an office environment. Historically, this assessment has been more focused on just the telephony features required by UC users.

As organizations start to plan the retirement of PBXs, it will become increasingly important that the UC platform meet the most basic needs of the back-office worker, as well as provide front-office features, such as operator switchboard and shared-line appearances for personal assistants supporting executives, in addition to the mobility requirements of UC users.

A high score here reflects a strong feature set for telephony as a component of the UC suite. Lower scores reflect missing key features, the need to supplement the UC platform with an IP-PBX for functionality or simply telephony that is provided with a stand-alone platform.

Conferencing

Conferencing incorporates an integrated capability to support audio, video and Web conferencing in the same UC suite, supporting a wide range of devices and connectivity options. This is a key area of focus for organizations in their UC planning and implementation.

The value of conferencing is its ease of use; the ability of users to schedule, as well as set up, ad hoc conferencing sessions, adding colleagues, content and desktop sharing. Conferencing includes meeting room technologies, multipoint webcam approaches, and integrated conferencing solutions that integrate room-based and desktop users. Users should be able to move between the different conferencing modes (e.g., audio, video, Web and IM) without having to restart conference sessions.

A high score here reflects full support for all conferencing modalities in a single platform, accessible across a consistent range of desktop and mobile applications. Lower scores reflect a best-of-breed approach with different products, partner products or some components of videoconferencing not in the product portfolio.

Messaging

Messaging tightly integrates voice messages with email and calendars, including synchronization of message stores. Video and short message service are recent additions to UC suites. Unified messaging has become a legacy product.

Unified messaging is included in UC bundles, because it can't be justified as a stand-alone product. It is critically important that messaging exists as part of a UC suite, but it has decreasing importance in the mindset of users, causing some organizations to remove it altogether for nonessential use. Access to messages through a consistent set of desktop and mobile clients, as well as email client applications, is essential. Some organizations need to separate voice messages from email to minimize compliance exposure.

A high score reflects support for integration with a range of email platforms, although Microsoft Exchange and Google Mail are regarded the most important. Notification and accessibility are key through a range of clients. Lower scores reflect minimal integration.

Instant Messaging and Presence

This is the ability to provide IM, presence and rich presence aggregation, while publishing presence and location information from multiple sources. Presence is available from multiple sources.

As a core competence of a UC suite, presence is an essential tool for reporting the status of all users and devices through client, mobile and Web applications. It is increasingly important that IM and presence federate with other platforms and external organizations, even though support for standards is starting to wane, as cloud providers give up on supporting XMPP.

A high score here reflects the ability to federate rich presence services internally and externally. Storing and archiving content are key requirements for some market segments. Lower scores reflect a limited product focus and limited presence services.

Clients

Clients are a critical deliverable for a high-quality user experience, with support for multiple channels through a single, consistent interface for PC, Mac and mobile OSs. The UC client is the primary UC interface from which users manage multimodal communications sessions.

The UC client enables an IM to be modified to a voice or video session with content sharing in many cases. The client user interface should be simple to operate, work across public and private networks, and have a consistent look and feel across PC, mobile and Web environments.

A high score here reflects a consistent look and feel, with a single client portfolio for all communications types. Lower scores reflect multiple clients, or more investment in desk phone user experiences than software clients.

Interoperability/Integration

This enables business and collaboration applications to directly integrate with and manage communication functionality. This is done by offering APIs, service interfaces and development tools to facilitate customized and productized integration of a range of applications with communications.

For example, the ability to establish a conference call with colleagues to share desktop content for a second opinion can be achieved more efficiently with the integration of the UC communications stack. This enables groups of users to identify the value of communications integrated with business applications. In some cases, applications may offer preintegrated communications functionality. For instance, collaboration and notification applications may be preconfigured to work with well-known communication environments. Interoperability with external organizations (e.g., suppliers, partners and customers) is also a requirement.

A high score here reflects a strong approach toward partnering and investment in APIs and development platforms that enable integration. Lower scores reflect a sole reliance on standards and minimal productized integrations.

Administration

Administration covers centralized configuration, reporting and analytics across all communication elements and partner platforms, where required. Administering a network of UC users is becoming increasingly challenging, as the network grows in size and complexity.

Demand for higher bandwidth in voice and video applications is stressing network deployments and architectures. Predeployment assessment and postdeployment monitoring are key requirements, provided directly or in partnership with specialized players. Equally important is the need to understand adoption and usage characteristics and to identify where services may be improved or extended to create greater impact for user groups.

A high score reflects the ability to administrate and manage all core UC capabilities through a single administration platform, including partner products, where required. Lower scores reflect a lack of automation for configuration and limited support for analytics.

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

This is the ability to integrate some UC components on-premises (or located in a data center) and other UC components in the cloud. User requirements to seamlessly work between the two models of on-premises and the cloud are increasingly key, as organizations demand flexibility in UC solutions.

Flexibility includes the ability of organizations to change their deployment models and licensing terms to meet the needs of agility and operational flexibility. All UC applications should support virtualization and the ability to move application loads among different computing resources, while the user experience remains consistent, regardless of application location.

A high score here reflects a fully virtualized infrastructure that supports a consistent client experience among on-premises, private and public cloud deployments. Lower scores reflect incomplete virtualization and limited public cloud infrastructure.

Mobility Support

This involves the support of communications on mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets, including presence, IM, voice and videoconferencing. The profile of UC users demands that they communicate across multiple devices in different locations across a range of wireless and wired networks.

Networks range from QoS-controlled private networks to the Internet and mobile. This capability needs to support company-supplied and personally owned devices.

High scores reflect a single, consistent use of mobility client across all PC and mobile OSs for all core UC capabilities. A lower score reflects the need for multiple clients, with inconsistent user experiences across the UC portfolio.

Continuous UCC

This integrates content sharing, mobile messaging and real-time communications into persistent sessions where users track collaboration and content shared in workgroups. New attendees review prior meetings, and provide data management used to determine who has participated over a period of time.

Solutions are just emerging in the market, and they're leveraging the cloud to lower the processing and storage costs associated with persistent sessions, along with leveraging the emerging WebRTC standard, where voice and video are embedded in a browser. This enables users to employ a continuous UCC application from any device.

We don't yet regard continuous UCC as a core UC product capability. However, it is an innovative area of development in support of collaboration that it warrants inclusion in this research as part of the broader portfolio of capabilities.

High scores reflect low barriers (technical and commercial) to the utilization and adoption of WebRTC. Lower scores reflect minimal or lack of presence of this development.

Use Cases

Enterprises develop their communication infrastructures at different rates in response to differing requirements, and within the context of varying infrastructure investments. As a result, the UC market is driven by a wide range of user needs and environments. However, enterprises typically focus on one of the following use cases.

Full UC With Strong Telephony Requirement

Midsize or large organizations are looking to enhance their telephony infrastructures, and IT leaders need solutions with strong telephony capabilities and other UC functions.

In this use case, the organization recognizes that users have strong, telephony-centric requirements. Here, the UC suite needs to replicate legacy PBX functionality, as well as meet conferencing and mobility requirements.

Full UC With Strong Collaboration Requirement

Midsize or large organizations are looking to enhance their ability to support collaboration activities and applications.

IT leaders are looking for solutions with strong conferencing, email and IM abilities that can integrate well with key collaboration applications, in some cases, via communications-enabled business process (CEBP) tools and APIs. Continuous UCC capabilities are emerging as key to organizations that are focused on strengthening collaboration capabilities. Although traditional telephony requirements are useful, they are not the focus of these types of organizations.

Ability to Work With Complementary Vendors

Multivendor solutions with multiple anchor vendors, in which integration capabilities play a critical role in providing a complete UCC solution, must be built.

This involves integration among communications modalities of the core UC capabilities, as well as integration into collaboration and other business applications to enhance real-time communications and collaboration. In this use case, organizations often take multivendor approaches to meeting all user requirements.

Ability to Offer Hybrid Solutions

When organizations need IT infrastructures to support UC capabilities, the ability to source components via cloud and more-traditional on-premises solutions is essential.

This enables users to take advantage, without having to wait for the IT infrastructure to be refreshed. Gartner expects organizations to look for ways to move UC capabilities between private and public cloud infrastructures to maximize the flexibility and durability of their communications environments.

Vendors Added and Dropped

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has changed its name to ALE.

Inclusion Criteria

We have included UC solutions based on the following criteria:

  • The vendor must have a significant market presence in four or more of the critical capabilities outlined above. Market presence can be demonstrated in one of two ways — by significant market share or by differentiating innovation.

  • The product must have enterprise deployments with references (as captured for the "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications" ).

  • The solution set must enable a complete portfolio, even if some components are offered via partnerships.

Table 12.   Weighting for Critical Capabilities in Use Cases

Critical Capabilities

Full UC With Strong Telephony Requirement

Full UC With Strong Collaboration Requirement

Ability to Work With Complementary Vendors

Ability to Offer Hybrid Solutions

Telephony

40%

5%

5%

5%

Conferencing

10%

20%

5%

5%

Messaging

15%

0%

5%

5%

Instant Messaging and Presence

5%

10%

5%

5%

Clients

5%

15%

10%

5%

Interoperability/
Integration

10%

5%

40%

5%

Administration

5%

10%

10%

10%

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

5%

10%

5%

40%

Mobility Support

5%

10%

10%

10%

Continuous UCC

0%

15%

5%

10%

Total

100%

100%

100%

100%

As of August 2015

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

This methodology requires analysts to identify the critical capabilities for a class of products/services. Each capability is then weighed in terms of its relative importance for specific product/service use cases.

Critical Capabilities Rating

Each of the products/services has been evaluated on the critical capabilities (see Table 13) on a scale of 1 to 5; a score of 1 = Poor (most or all defined requirements are not achieved), while 5 = Outstanding (significantly exceeds requirements).

Table 13.   Product/Service Rating on Critical Capabilities

Critical Capabilities

ALE Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Suite

Avaya Aura Platform

Cisco Business Edition 7000

Huawei eSpace

IBM Sametime

Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center

Microsoft Skype for Business

Mitel MiCollab

NEC Univerge 3C

ShoreTel Connect

Unify OpenScape

Telephony

3.8

3.8

4.5

3.5

2.0

3.0

2.5

4.0

4.0

4.0

3.8

Conferencing

3.5

3.0

4.5

3.5

3.0

2.5

4.5

3.5

3.0

2.5

3.5

Messaging

3.5

4.5

4.0

3.0

4.0

3.0

4.0

4.0

4.0

3.5

4.0

Instant Messaging and Presence

3.0

3.0

4.0

2.5

5.0

3.0

5.0

3.5

3.0

3.5

3.5

Clients

4.0

3.5

4.5

3.0

3.5

2.0

4.0

3.5

3.0

4.0

3.5

Interoperability/Integration

3.5

4.5

3.0

3.0

4.5

4.5

3.0

3.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

Administration

4.0

3.0

4.0

3.5

3.0

3.0

3.0

3.5

3.5

3.5

3.5

Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud

3.0

2.5

4.0

2.5

3.0

2.0

3.5

3.0

3.0

3.0

3.0

Mobility Support

3.0

3.5

4.0

3.5

3.0

2.5

4.0

4.0

3.0

4.0

3.0

Continuous UCC

1.0

1.5

3.0

1.0

2.5

3.5

2.5

1.0

1.0

1.0

3.0

As of August 2015

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

Table 14 shows the product/service scores for each use case. The scores, which are generated by multiplying the use-case weightings by the product/service ratings, summarize how well the critical capabilities are met for each use case.

Table 14.   Product/Service Score in Use Cases

Use Cases

ALE Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Suite

Avaya Aura Platform

Cisco Business Edition 7000

Huawei eSpace

IBM Sametime

Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center

Microsoft Skype for Business

Mitel MiCollab

NEC Univerge 3C

ShoreTel Connect

Unify OpenScape

Full UC With Strong
Telephony Requirement

3.60

3.72

4.18

3.25

3.03

2.98

3.33

3.78

3.58

3.63

3.70

Full UC With Strong Collaboration Requirement

3.12

2.97

4.00

2.83

3.23

2.75

3.70

3.15

2.80

3.03

3.37

Ability to Work With Complementary Vendors

3.39

3.72

3.65

3.00

3.73

3.40

3.40

3.45

3.05

3.43

3.64

Ability to Offer
Hybrid Solutions

3.07

2.92

3.93

2.73

3.15

2.60

3.50

3.15

2.95

3.10

3.27

As of August 2015

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

To determine an overall score for each product/service in the use cases, multiply the ratings in Table 13 by the weightings shown in Table 12.

Evidence

Scoring for the nine critical capabilities was derived largely from the following sources:

  • Gartner analysts' conducted collective research and regular internal collaboration sessions.

  • Each vendor in this research responded in detail to a comprehensive, annual primary-research survey questionnaire administered by the authors.

  • Feedback was sourced from our end-user clients during telephone or face-to-face inquiry sessions.

  • Feedback from vendor references was provided as part of the Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities research methodologies.

Critical Capabilities Methodology

This methodology requires analysts to identify the critical capabilities for a class of products or services. Each capability is then weighted in terms of its relative importance for specific product or service use cases. Next, products/services are rated in terms of how well they achieve each of the critical capabilities. A score that summarizes how well they meet the critical capabilities for each use case is then calculated for each product/service.

"Critical capabilities" are attributes that differentiate products/services in a class in terms of their quality and performance. Gartner recommends that users consider the set of critical capabilities as some of the most important criteria for acquisition decisions.

In defining the product/service category for evaluation, the analyst first identifies the leading uses for the products/services in this market. What needs are end-users looking to fulfill, when considering products/services in this market? Use cases should match common client deployment scenarios. These distinct client scenarios define the Use Cases.

The analyst then identifies the critical capabilities. These capabilities are generalized groups of features commonly required by this class of products/services. Each capability is assigned a level of importance in fulfilling that particular need; some sets of features are more important than others, depending on the use case being evaluated.

Each vendor’s product or service is evaluated in terms of how well it delivers each capability, on a five-point scale. These ratings are displayed side-by-side for all vendors, allowing easy comparisons between the different sets of features.

Ratings and summary scores range from 1.0 to 5.0:

1 = Poor: most or all defined requirements not achieved

2 = Fair: some requirements not achieved

3 = Good: meets requirements

4 = Excellent: meets or exceeds some requirements

5 = Outstanding: significantly exceeds requirements

To determine an overall score for each product in the use cases, the product ratings are multiplied by the weightings to come up with the product score in use cases.

The critical capabilities Gartner has selected do not represent all capabilities for any product; therefore, may not represent those most important for a specific use situation or business objective. Clients should use a critical capabilities analysis as one of several sources of input about a product before making a product/service decision.