Gartner considers the large enterprise UC market to be mature, though product capabilities, market focus and vendor strengths vary. As a result, enterprises should carefully match their own priorities to vendor strengths before committing to a solution.
Source: Gartner (August 2015
The focus of this research is large enterprise unified communications (UC) solutions that are intended for on-premises deployment. Midsize UC solutions are covered in “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications for Midsize Enterprises, North America.” Cloud UC products are covered in “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, North America With Additional Regional Presence.”
The primary goal of all unified communications (UC) solutions is to improve user productivity and to enhance business processes as related to communications and collaboration. Gartner defines UC products (equipment, software and services) as those that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communications methods to obtain that goal. This can include the control, management and integration of these methods. UC products integrate communications channels (media), and networks and systems, as well as IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.
UC offers the ability to significantly improve how individuals, groups and companies interact and perform. The UC products may be composed of a single vendor (stand-alone) suite, or enterprises may deploy a portfolio of integrated applications and platforms spanning multiple vendors. In many cases, UC is deployed to extend and add functionality to established communications investments.
UC products are used by individuals to facilitate personal communications, and by enterprises to support workgroup and collaborative communications and business workflows. Some UC products may extend UC outside company boundaries to enhance communications among organizations, and to support interactions among large public communities or for personal communications. UC applications are increasingly being integrated or offered in concert with collaboration applications to form unified communications and collaboration (UCC) and, in some cases, are being integrated with business applications and workflows or are being targeted at vertical user groups.
It is useful to divide UC into six broad communications product areas:
- Telephony — This area includes fixed, mobile and soft telephony, as well as the evolution of PBXs and IP PBXs. This category includes options for voice and video that bypass traditional connectivity methods, such as direct Internet-based connections.
- Conferencing — This area includes multiparty voice (audio) conferencing, videoconferencing, Web conferencing that includes document and application sharing capabilities, and various forms of unified conferencing capabilities.
- Messaging — This area includes email, which has become an indispensable business tool, voice mail and various approaches to unified messaging (UM).
- Presence and IM — Instant messaging allows individuals to send text and other information to others or to groups in real time. Presence services allow individuals to see the status of other people and resources.
- Clients — Unified clients enable access to multiple communications functions from a consistent interface. These may take different forms, including thick desktop clients, thin browser clients and clients for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as specialized clients embedded within business applications.
- Communications-enabled applications — Integrating communications directly with business applications and with a broader context is something Gartner calls “communications-enabled business processes (CEBP).” These integrations improve the accuracy and speed of processes and workflows, and, in some cases, enable new digital business opportunities. These also enable stronger targeted vertical solutions.
The stakes for vendors in the enterprise UC market are exceedingly high and, in some cases, existential. The stakes for enterprise decision makers are also high due to the significant costs, visibility and business impacts of their choice. Six UC characteristics will have an important effect on the success of a UC product and the satisfaction of users:
- User experience (UX) — The quality, intuitiveness and effectiveness of the overall UX across all devices will heavily influence the effectiveness of the solution, and its adoption rate, usage and, ultimately, enterprise productivity. While consolidated administration and management are important characteristics of a successful solution, it is the high-quality end-user experience that will drive adoption and productivity.
- Mobility — User expectations of how UC solutions leverage mobility continue to escalate. In addition to demanding full UC functionality on mobile devices, users are starting to expect mobile devices to be integrated with desktop devices to allow for a more powerful work environment and to integrate UC with mobile consumer applications. In this year’s Magic Quadrant evaluation, we again place extra weight on mobility as it remains a key differentiator and requirement. Gartner recommends that enterprises consider adopting a mobility-first strategy, where UC applications are designed first around the mobile UX and then extended for PCs.
- Interoperability — Enterprises wish to avoid “closed gardens” and vendor lock-in, while enabling intercompany B2B, business-to-partner (B2P) and business-to-consumer (B2C) federation. Additionally, many enterprises will find their needs best-served by using several vendors, either because of legacy investments or to enable a best-of-breed configuration. This research considers how vendors address these critical emerging interoperability requirements.
- Cloud and hybrid — Integration of on-premises UC with cloud and hybrid UC services continues to play an increasingly important role as these options mature.
- Broad solution appeal — Successful UC solutions must be attractive to a broad and diverse audience of decision influencers. Influencers span the traditional IT audiences, as well as, more recently, consumer-oriented departmental and internal project groups.
- Developer network — As communications becomes verticalized, integrated with business applications and moved to mobile devices, the role of developer partners will become increasingly critical.)
Vendor Strengths and Cautions
As of 1 October 2014, ALE, operating under the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise brand, has been operating as an independent company. The majority share of the company was acquired by China Huaxin, a Chinese investment company that had existing partnerships with Alcatel-Lucent. The separation of ALE from the parent company is largely completed, and full separation is expected by the end September 2015.
ALE’s UC solution remains the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Suite, which is a fully unified and integrated UC solution. It scales to 5,000 users and 15,000 endpoints. Above those limits, the components can be deployed physically separate, but as a single logical system. The Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise Communication Server scales from 100 users to 100,000 users in a single image, and can be deployed along with the OpenTouch Suite. ALE has introduced a universal client called Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Conversation that operates across leading devices, consolidating both user experience and licensing. The OpenTouch Suite can be deployed as an overlay on third-party telephony switches, providing a migration path for new customers.
Existing customers should evaluate the OpenTouch Suite if they are looking for a complete software UC suite. New potential customers should ensure that ALE has sufficient service and support presence in their market.
- OpenTouch offers a full multiparty, multidevice and multimedia UC suite with a competitive total cost of ownership. The solution can operate on-premises, in the cloud or with hybrid functions. OpenTouch can operate as a complete UC suite or as part of a broader multivendor environment.
- The vendor has a strong telephony market share in Europe from which to sustain continued investments in broader UC product and market development.
- Gartner believes that the acquisition by China Huaxin was a positive development, because it improves the clarity of ALE’s future, and allows it to more clearly focus on enterprise UC products and markets.
- While the independent ALE has a stable and experienced management team and is now an established independent company, it must prove that it can execute and grow in this highly competitive market.
- ALE lacks significant visibility in North America, limiting its appeal to those multinational companies with a strong need for support in that market.
Avaya’s lead UC product for enterprises is the Avaya Aura Platform, while Avaya IP Office Platform is the lead UC product targeted at small or midsize businesses (SMBs), with fewer than 2,500 endpoints. Other elements in the UC portfolio include Avaya Aura Conferencing and Scopia Video Conferencing, which Avaya plans to integrate into a single conferencing solution in the coming year. Additional UC elements include Avaya Aura Messaging, Avaya Multimedia Messaging and Avaya Engagement Development Platform (formerly Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment). Avaya also offers a broad range of UC desktop, mobile, phone and video clients and endpoints. Its lead contact center solutions are Avaya Aura Contact Center and Avaya Aura Call Center Elite. The vendor continued to advance its UC cloud and managed service offerings, which are based on the same solution as the on-premises version and are offered through partners as well as directly by Avaya. Avaya continues to reduce, simplify and clarify its pricing model, and now offers UC solutions in several suite configurations.
Consider the Avaya Aura platform if you need to bring together multivendor environments (systems, services and devices), have a focus on communications-enabling your business processes and applications, have significant investments in Avaya that you wish to migrate toward a next-generation UC solution or if the enterprise has significant contact center requirements.
- Telephony and contact center remain central elements in Avaya’s portfolio. The vendor’s strength and brand recognition in these areas help it retain market visibility while it continues to strengthen its overall UC portfolio.
- Avaya Engagement Development Platform (EDP) and Avaya Snap-ins enable developers to quickly create unique communications-enabled workflows and processes. The Esna Technologies acquisition, which closed on 28 May 2015, strengthens Avaya’s middleware capability and simplifies integration with business applications, such as Salesforce.
- Avaya continues to make progress on specific lead products and services, as well as in simplifying pricing and go-to-market strategy. Together, these changes make it easier for prospects to understand the offers and for partners to position the Avaya UC solution.
- The Avaya architecture provides customers with choice and flexibility; both its UC and contact center (CC) capabilities can be deployed on-site, in the cloud or in hybrid environments.
- The vendor must continue to demonstrate that it has increased adoption and market momentum for its broader UC portfolio, rather than solely for its telephony and contact center solutions.
- Avaya continues to lose market share to the broad range of competitors in this evolving market.
- While Avaya continues to consolidate its UC clients around Avaya Communicator, elements of the user experience remain fragmented.
- Avaya’s financial score remains at “Caution” under Gartner’s published methodology for rating IT vendors’ financials. Avaya deserves credit for posting positive cash from operations for the last three quarters, and its profitability metrics (gross margin, EBITDA margin and operating margin) stack up well with its peers. However, Avaya needs to stabilize its revenue, given that it has posted a year-over-year revenue decline in each of the last 13 quarters; also, the company’s debt level remains heavy, with a net debt-to-reported EBITDA ratio of 7.9x, which is significantly higher than its peer group.
Cisco offers a full UC suite of integrated on-premises and cloud-based applications and services. The solution is based on Cisco Unified Communications Manager and brings together voice, video, telepresence, messaging, presence and conferencing. Cisco packages these services into various configurations, which include the Cisco Business Edition 7000 (BE7000) series for large enterprises, the Cisco Business Edition 6000 (BE6000) series for SMBs of less than 1,000 users and as a cloud-based service called Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) offered by Cisco partners. Cisco also provides a full range of endpoints, including phones, desktop collaboration endpoints, room systems and immersive solutions, as well as Cisco Jabber, its mobile and desktop client.
Key additions to the portfolio during the past year include a new WebEx user experience, WebEx Personal Rooms, significant video infrastructure scalability improvements, Collaboration Meeting Rooms (CMR) Cloud hosted video bridging service, and Spark, an enterprise mobile messaging application that supports chat, video and file sharing, and works with WebEx. In June 2015, Cisco acquired Tropo, a communications platform as a service (cPaaS) solution with a large developer community of 200,000 that will speed development of communications integrated with targeted vertical and mobile applications.
Cisco UC is an attractive solution for midsize, large and multinational corporations requiring strong voice, video or conferencing capabilities. It is also attractive to enterprises that require full UC client support on leading mobile platforms, including Apple, and those that wish to leverage Cisco’s networking infrastructure. Cisco UC is available on-premises, in the cloud and as a hybrid option through a network of global partners.
- Cisco offers a globally scalable, full UC suite, with good-quality user experience across all leading mobile devices, and strong telephony and market-leading conferencing capabilities.
- Prime Collaboration provides unified management for voice and video networks, including automated, accelerated deployment; provisioning; real-time monitoring; proactive troubleshooting; license management; and long-term trending and analytics. Prime Collaboration can scale to 150,000 endpoints per server instance.
- Over the last year, Cisco has expanded its existing cloud offerings, adding CMR Cloud and Spark, acquired Tropo, and executed the initial steps of its hybrid UC strategy.
- Through carrier and service provider partners, Cisco is advancing attractive hybrid options. Cisco HCS is based on the same software as Cisco’s on-premises offering, and both support the same Jabber client.
- Clients report that some user and administrator experiences across multiple UC functions are fragmented, rather than seamless; for example, VoIP, IM/presence and conferencing were not managed by Prime Collaboration.
- Cisco’s Unified Workspace Licensing (CUWL) is a useful package to profile user requirements. It offers attractive pricing, compared with buying competitive UC components separately. However, it’s important to size requirements accurately based on user needs, in order to avoid overinvesting in capabilities that then go unused.
- As the Collaboration Technology Group’s product mix shifts to software applications and cloud, Cisco has been slow in making the needed complementary changes in its channels and partner programs.
Headquartered in China, Huawei offers a comprehensive portfolio of communications products and services. The Huawei eSpace Unified Communications solution is made up of a broad set of applications, telephony, presence, messaging, multiple conferencing options, video, collaboration and contact center. In the last year, Huawei continued to expand its mobile workspace capabilities, adding social and collaboration mobile applications including WeChat-like features and functions, as well as a free-form doodle application that can enable or share whiteboard like capabilities. The eSpace solution runs on Huawei servers, standard servers and virtualized platforms. It also offers software APIs for integration with business applications (for example, IBM Sametime and Microsoft Lync integration via a single Ecosystem Software Development Kit [eSDK]).
Consider Huawei when looking for a comprehensive networking solution that includes UCC functionality. The vendor operates in many regions, although support in North America, Western Europe and Japan is limited. Ensure that any needed local support is available.
- Huawei had $46 billion in revenue in 2014, a year-over-year revenue gain of about 20%. Its solutions span the carrier, large-enterprise, SMB and consumer markets across the globe. These broad strengths provide a broad base across which to grow the vendor’s UC solutions.
- The vendor has a full UC product portfolio and continues to make progress expanding its presence and partners in emerging markets, including some countries in Europe.
- Huawei offers its extensive UC solution set both as part of broader bundles of IT services and technology, or incorporated into off-the-shelf products like UC and IP telephony.
- In many regions, Huawei controls project decision making and operations directly from its offices in China. As a result, this can pose communication challenges for engagements requiring extensive professional services or customization outside of China.
- The vendor faces political, trade and intellectual property trust issues in the U.S. market.
- Huawei has limited public references available in Western Europe and North America; customers in these regions should check with local sales or partners to determine the experience level of in-region partners.
IBM now uses the IBM Connections brand as a broad umbrella term, which can indicate different solutions when applied to its cloud offering than when applied to its on-premises offering. This research focuses on the IBM on-premises UC solution called IBM Sametime Complete, which is part of the broader IBM Connections Suite. In addition to Sametime, the broader Connections Suite includes social software, content management and social analytics.
IBM Sametime Complete offers rich presence, chat, meetings, a mobile client, real-time collaboration, HD video, and SIP-based telephony and video integration. Because IBM’s broader approach is to blend social business and UC functionality into a broader social communications solution, elements of IBM’s Sametime solution are also offered as separate solutions in order to meet a range of enterprise requirements.
Enterprises should consider IBM Sametime products if they have investments in IBM products or professional services that they wish to leverage, or if they are committed to the IBM Connections strategy. Additionally, enterprises that must operate in multivendor telephony environments and want a consolidated UC client should consider Sametime Unified Telephony.
- IBM has leading social software, Web conferencing, portal, business analytics and content management solutions, and is a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace.
- The IBM brand, partner network and professional services organization assist Sametime in obtaining account visibility and marketing presence, executing custom integrations, and delivering vertical-specific solutions.
- IBM’s approach offers an open framework for coexisting with legacy communications infrastructure, rather than competing with it.
- While IBM Notes and IBM Connections have a positive effect on Sametime in the market, they have not generated significant Sametime UC pull-through.
- IBM is focusing its strategy on social solutions and has not invested in its Sametime UC solution at the same pace as most competing UC vendors.
- There are significant differences between IBM Connections Suite, the on-premises offering, and IBM Connections Cloud, IBM’s SaaS platform for collaboration. This can lead to confusion and incorrect expectations by planners.
Interactive Intelligence’s Customer Interaction Center (CIC) is an all-in-one software solution that offers both contact center and UC functionality. The solution is particularly attractive to enterprises focused on contact centers that also wish to offer integrated UC functionality enterprisewide for back-office and support functions. The solution includes telephony, audioconferencing, UM, rich presence with IM, and a range of client and device options. CIC also integrates with leading third-party Web conferencing and video solutions, as well as with Microsoft Skype for Business. The solution is offered on-premises, in a cloud configuration or as a managed service.
In 2015, Interactive Intelligence introduced PureCloud Communicate, a multitenant, enterprise-grade, distributed cloud architecture that leverages Amazon Web Services. The offering includes real-time enterprise collaboration, content management and IP PBX capabilities. It is not a direct upgrade from the on-premises CIC solution, and is currently only a limited introduction in select markets, with more to follow later in 2015.
Enterprises should evaluate the Interactive Intelligence CIC solution when integrating UC with contact center functionality, or when looking to integrate Microsoft Lync with Interactive Intelligence’s contact center functionality.
- Interactive Intelligence has seen success with its innovative and attractive flexible deployment offering, which allows enterprises to convert on-premises deployments to cloud-based deployments, or vice versa. This flexibility eliminates many perceived risks of either approach, and can be conducted with minimal disruption to users.
- The vendor reports that, while it is known for its contact center product, it is finding that many of its customers purchase both UC and contact center solutions from it.
- Interactive Intelligence’s financials are good. It has had several years of very good growth and has managed its investor relations through changes to its profitability metrics as it transitions to a more cloud-based revenue stream. The vendor is profitable and generates cash from its operations.
- Interactive Intelligence and its UC product have limited visibility in a market that is dominated by larger vendors. Additionally, despite investments in its sales channel program, global coverage remains limited in some regions, such as parts of Eastern Europe and Asia.
- CIC’s Web and videoconferencing capabilities are not as robust as its competitors and may not meet the needs of an enterprise that has sophisticated conferencing requirements.
- CIC is best-suited for enterprises with the contact center as their primary need, but that also wish to have integrated, enterprisewide UC. As a result, CIC may not be a cost-effective solution for enterprises without strong contact center requirements.
Microsoft has rebranded its Lync UC solution as Skype for Business (SfB). As part of the rebranding, Microsoft released new clients with a redesign of the UI inspired by Skype to simplify adoption by users. The new SfB Server 2015 offers a full suite of UC functionality that Microsoft continues to improve with each release. Significant improvements this year are in the area of video, with the addition of the SfB Video Interop Server, which allows native integration with certain third-party video teleconferencing systems, the ability to make video calls over the Internet with Skype consumer users and the Surface Hub team collaboration device that integrates with SfB meetings.
In addition to the on-premises SfB Server solution, Microsoft advanced SfB Online as part of the broad Office 365 portfolio. The broader online suite includes Office applications such as Word, Excel, Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer, Office, Delve, Power BI and Dynamics CRM. Microsoft also continued to expand the range of client devices supported and the SfB capabilities on these devices. However, enterprises should be aware that SfB Online currently offers only a subset of the SfB Server capabilities, most notably with significant limitations in public switched telephone network (PSTN) connectivity. Microsoft has announced plans to introduce PSTN functionality to SfB Online later in 2015. The vendor also has partners capable of hosting and operating SfB Server for enterprises as part of an Office 365 configuration, and while this approach does overcome many of the limitations of SfB Online, it also introduces complexity and cost.
Enterprises with a significant number of employees who can benefit from the SfB collaboration model should consider how it might be leveraged into their business processes and to improve worker productivity. Enterprises considering deploying SfB telephony or video should understand the topology and infrastructure requirements, how they will support branch offices, and (if relevant) how they will deploy and obtain global third-party support. Enterprises with advanced telephony feature requirements should also ensure that the needed functions are supported.
- Microsoft continues to make significant gains in the UC market and is attractive to a broad range of enterprises. In many cases, it is initially deployed for its IM, presence and Web conferencing functionalities, with gradual incremental deployments of telephony and video added as follow-on phased deployments for specifically targeted groups or regions.
- Microsoft is able to bundle the SfB product with its well-established broad range of business and office products, enabling it to leverage its dominant position in enterprise IT.
- The vendor continues to advance a strong partner strategy, helping it to address the diverse range of enterprise requirements on a global basis.
- Microsoft’s SfB solution is most effective when a significant number of users do not require a desk phone.
- Enterprises regularly report dissatisfaction with the quality and capabilities of the audioconferencing and videoconferencing functionalities. As a result, these enterprises often maintain separate conferencing services that can be used when required.
- Microsoft has announced intentions to deliver PSTN and other services in Office 365, and to integrate these with on-premises telephony in some cases. However, the public roadmap today does not include the detail required for planning and for comparing the options. Additionally, in some cases, it appears that Microsoft will be directly competing with some partner offers in the near future.
- Enterprises deploying SfB with in-house staff find that multiple partners are required to obtain a complete deployment, and that this poses challenges (for example, different partners for telephones, gateways, survivable branch servers, remote support and network monitoring); additionally, this approach can lead to release-level incompatibilities. This approach also creates difficulty obtaining an accurate total cost for SfB service and support.
- Power telephony users such as executive administrators and receptionists find handling multiple calls simultaneously through SfB challenging, with transferring calls around taking more steps; certain related features are also limited (for example, providing music on hold to parked callers).
Mitel offers the MiCollab UC suite as the common UC solution across its multiple call management platforms. MiCollab 7, scheduled to be generally available in August 2015, will extend the new UC client beyond the current MiVoice Business platform, to include support for all Mitel’s enterprise call management platforms. Mitel’s primary call management platforms are MiVoice Business, which targets midsize to large enterprises, and MiVoice MX-One (of Aastra Technologies heritage), targeted at large and very large enterprises. Other Mitel call processing platforms that it is planned that MiCollab will support include MiVoice Office 400 and MiVoice 5000 (of Aastra heritage). Mitel supports video natively in MiCollab and on the Mitel MiVoice Video Phone. The vendor also offers integration with Vidyo virtual meeting rooms. Mitel intends to continue to maintain the platforms and upgrade the legacy base to MiCollab UC functionality. Mitel has two contact center offerings — MiContact Center Solidus, which scales for the midmarket and larger, and MiContact Center Enterprise Edition (former prairieFyre Software) which scales up to 1,200 agents. The vendor offers its UCaaS MiCloud service directly and through partners, based on MiCollab, MiVoice and MiContact Center, as well as private UC cloud offerings for these and other call control platforms.
Organizations looking for an integrated UC approach at an attractive price should consider the MiCollab and MiVoice call management platforms. Enterprises with existing Aastra investments should consult the MiCollab roadmap.
- Mitel has expanded its market reach significantly with the Aastra acquisition, and has leveraged the synergy across the two companies. This has increased the overall competitiveness of Mitel in both EMEA and North America, where, according to Gartner, in 4Q14, the combined company is the No. 1-ranked telephony vendor in Western Europe, No. 4 in North America and No. 4 worldwide.
- With the acquisition in April 2015 of Mavenir, which offers a software-based network solution for mobile carriers, Mitel positions itself into market adjacencies for offering value-added communications services, including UC, for mobile operators as voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) comes to market.
- The Mitel MiVoice, MiCollab, MiContact Center and MiCloud solutions provide a mature and comprehensive software suite. They are based on a common software architecture that can be distributed or centralized in a data center.
- Mitel supports multiple platforms under the MiVoice brand, and while these leverage the common MiCollab UC functions, each also requires its own Mitel development and marketing resources.
- To succeed, Mitel must advance and integrate its MiCollab and cloud solutions across a broad base of clients and products. It will be up against strong competition, and must ensure that its channel partners are able to sell more than the base PBX function.
- Mitel’s multiple call management platforms can cause uncertainty for prospects unfamiliar with the portfolio. Prospects should understand which of the options best meets their needs and select a Mitel partner that matches that platform.
- Using pro forma numbers (as if Aastra were part of the financials for the 12 months leading up to March 2015), Mitel’s financial rating comes out at “Positive” under Gartner’s published methodology for rating IT vendors’ financials. Also, now that the Mavenir acquisition is completed, Mitel has an annual pro forma revenue of more than $1 billion and a larger addressable market, but it added debt in the transaction and has a net debt-to-reported-EBITDA ratio of over 3.0x, which is higher than the 1.2x net debt-to-reported-EBITDA ratio it had prior to the deal, meaning that Mitel will need to deliver the growth and synergy savings expected from its combining with Mavenir.
Over the last year, NEC continued to situate its UC offering within the broader context of the smart enterprise. This enables NEC to accentuate its comprehensive IT portfolio and to expand its channel partner base, opening up discussions that encompass enterprise business and infrastructure, along with UC.
NEC’s Univerge 3C software offers a fully integrated, complete UC suite. It is based on a Web- and service-oriented architecture (SOA), and on open standards, with enterprise scalability, security and centralized administration. The suite functionality encompasses telephony, video and all forms of conferencing, presence, IM and messaging. It includes multiple client options, such as hard phones, softphones and SIP phones, as well as a full set of mobile capabilities for a broad range of mobile devices. The broader NEC portfolio includes integrated support for contact centers, and business application integration and cloud delivery options.
Consider the NEC Univerge 3C solution if you want a complete software UC suite based on SOA that can be extended with the broader portfolio offered by a major global telecommunications infrastructure provider. Enterprises with existing NEC telephony platforms may consider Univerge 3C as a migration path.
- NEC is a financially strong, global firm with established UC sales and support channels in several regions.
- The vendor’s broader market message, along with a shift toward global market programs, should help it to advance in worldwide markets.
- NEC has a forward-looking UCC architecture that includes a rich set of UC functions in a standards-based SOA environment, backed by a broad communications portfolio. The platform’s virtualization capabilities and software architecture, along with the increased software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined data center (SDDC) capabilities of the broader NEC portfolio, make it a good fit for data center environments.
- NEC is still building on its global brand identity in the market and, as a result, may not be as well-known compared with some of its competitors. To succeed, the vendor needs to continue advancing its global brand marketing.
- Some of NEC’s channel partners in the North American and European markets, and many outside of those markets, are not enabled to support Univerge 3C. To succeed, NEC needs to continue to expand its partner base and its partner enablement programs. Buyers interested in Univerge 3C should work with the vendor to ensure they will be working with a partner that has the needed competencies.
In June 2015, ShoreTel introduced its new Connect product. While Connect draws from the existing ShoreTel 14 distributed architecture, it incorporates significant upgrades, enabling the same software to be used in both customer on-premises deployments and in ShoreTel’s own cloud UCaaS offering.
The on-premises offering, branded Connect Onsite, uses the existing appliance approach and can be deployed at multiple physical enterprise sites, eliminating a single point of failure. The cloud version, branded ShoreTel Connect Cloud, leverages the same software, but is offered as a UCaaS service. The ShoreTel cloud service can also serve as an active backup for an on-premises deployment. ShoreTel also offers additional on-demand functionality that can be leveraged into on-premises or cloud deployments.
The ShoreTel UC solution is well-suited to distributed organizations, and is known for its simplicity of installation and administration. The Connect solution supports the full set of UC functionality, from peer-to-peer video and support for communications to room-based systems from strategic partners. The vendor supports its own IP phones and ShoreTel Dock for iPad and iPhone users, as well as SIP phones, SIP trunking and a full set of mobile options. The vendor offers basic and advanced contact center functionality, as well as Google Gmail and Microsoft Exchange UM integrations.
Consider the ShoreTel offering if your company is a distributed organization with multiple small or midsize locations and wants cost-effective UC functions. ShoreTel is well-established in North America; enterprises planning deployments in other regions should validate service availability.
- The new ShoreTel Connect Onsite solution is based on the existing distributed appliance architecture. The same software is now also the basis for ShoreTel’s UCaaS solution, Connect Cloud. Together, these enable hybrid deployments as well as redundant appliance deployments as desired.
- Users of earlier ShoreTel solutions report high customer satisfaction because the solution is easy to use, has intuitive user and management interfaces, and has simple, transparent pricing and licensing structures. These characteristics have been incorporated into its new product.
- ShoreTel’s financial results have generally been stable since the acquisition of M5 Networks, and it has posted top-line growth and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) profitability in each of the last eight quarters. Also, ShoreTel has been generating positive cash from operations.
- The ShoreTel Connect product is new to the market. While the vendor does have references, Connect has not been in the market long enough to establish a track record. Additionally, while the sales and support channels have had training, their level of experience with the new product will vary.
- The vendor does not have enterprise visibility outside the telecommunications area, which will make it difficult for ShoreTel to gain acceptance in enterprises as a full UCC provider, especially as it is competing with more established providers.
- The solution is primarily geared toward small and midsize organizations of under 2,000 users.
In the last two years, Unify has gone through several significant transformations. These transformations include rebranding itself as Unify, undertaking a complete turnover of senior management, introducing a new cloud-based solution called Circuit, making significant changes in its go-to-market approach and undertaking major staff reductions.
The Unify OpenScape UC portfolio offers a full and integrated suite of UC functionality. OpenScape is offered in three configurations, targeted at different market segments and requirements. OpenScape Enterprise is for midsize to very large enterprises (200 to 500,000 users), OpenScape Enterprise Express is an all-in-one UC solution targeted at midsize enterprises (200 to 2,000 users), and OpenScape Business is targeted at single and multisite SMBs (five to 2,000 users).
Unify also continues to advance several forward-looking initiatives. The OpenScape Fusion integration allows the OpenScape client to be embedded within other application environments, including Microsoft, IBM, Google Apps and social media tools (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). Another significant Unify initiative is Circuit. Circuit is a SaaS-based collaboration solution that leverages an individual’s “conversational” context, which is to say the individual’s history of communication and conferencing activities, as well as topics that have been tagged as relevant. In addition to the contextual information, Circuit supports video, conferencing, file and screen sharing, and other collaborative functions. Unify’s roadmap is to provide deeper integration of Circuit into the OpenScape portfolio and into third-party communications solutions.
Evaluate the OpenScape UC suite if your company is looking for a standards-based, complete and cost-effective UC software suite that can, as needed, be extended via integration with third-party solutions. Enterprises with HiPath 4000 can also consider OpenScape as a migration path.
- The OpenScape family of UC solutions is mature and offers a full suite of UC functionality. It is available in a variety of configurations targeted at different market segments, and is able to operate with various existing telephony deployments.
- Unify continues to emphasize an open and interoperable approach, offering multiple integration options; it is being integrated with leading collaboration and business applications, such as those from IBM, Microsoft and Google.
- The vendor is proactively addressing the changes occurring in the telecommunications and communications industry. This includes making organizational and market decisions that allow it to better compete in growth segments, while reducing commitment to markets in decline.
- Unify must continue the year-over-year growth it experienced in 2014 in the large North American market; as a point of reference, in the previous four years (2010 through 2013), Unify has shown year-over-year declines.
- While continuing to enhance its OpenScape portfolio, Unify has placed significant resources on Circuit as its next-generation UCaaS solution. The market demand for this type of solution has yet to be determined.
- Unify’s restructuring has likely put the vendor in a better position to become profitable, but because it is privately held, its lack of financial disclosure makes it difficult for industry analysts and customers to assess whether the company is making progress. Earlier in 2015, there were publicly available financial analyses from credit rating agencies that contemplated a redemption of the company’s debt. This redemption has occurred, which is a positive development as far as the company’s liquidity through early 2016 is concerned. Nevertheless, despite the debt redemption, end users should take note that Unify’s transformation plan remains subject to a high degree of execution risk and will be challenged by a difficult competitive environment.
Vendors Added and Dropped
We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor.
No vendors were added to this Magic Quadrant. However, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Division was acquired by China Huaxin and rebranded as ALE.
No vendors were dropped from this Magic Quadrant.
Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
To be included in this Magic Quadrant, solution providers must meet the following criteria:
- Offer a unified solution in all six core communications areas defined in Gartner’s UC model. Briefly stated, the six areas are: (1) telephony; (2) conferencing (including audio, Web and video, which can be offered via partnerships); (3) IM and presence; (4) messaging (which can be offered via integration with email, voice mail and various forms of UM); (5) clients for multiple environments; and (6) the ability to be integrated with other business and communications applications, such as collaboration software, contact centers and CEBPs.
- Integrate the UC functionality in each area into a complete solution presented via a consistent interface; nonintegrated functionality is not considered part of a unified solution.
- Have a significant market presence in telephony and in three or more of the six core communications areas defined in Gartner’s UC model; market presence can be demonstrated by significant market share or differentiating innovation. Vendor must have minimum revenue of $150 million from enterprise communications.
- Offer the UC solution in multiple global market regions, including North America, Europe and Asia.
- Provide evidence of sales, revenue and operational investments that support market objectives — this research focuses on the large and very large enterprise market (vendors focused primarily on SMBs are not included).
- Provide five references (three end users and two distribution partners) for enterprise on-premises UC portfolio/products. These references should involve the complete portfolio; references for portions of the UC portfolio are considered, but do not carry as much weight as references with complete solutions.
Ability to Execute
Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers based on the quality, efficacy and overall maturity of the products, systems, tools and procedures that enhance individual, group and enterprise communications. Ultimately, UC providers are judged on their ability and success in capitalizing on their vision.
Source: Gartner (August 2015)
Completeness of Vision
Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers on their ability to convincingly articulate logical statements about current and future market directions, innovations, customer needs, and competitive forces, and how well these map to Gartner’s overall evaluation of the market. Ultimately, UC product providers are rated on their understanding over a multiyear time frame of how market forces can be exploited to create opportunities for themselves and their clients.
Source: Gartner (August 2015)
Leaders have a full UC offering and strong market presence, and demonstrate success in the field. They have a strong presence in related markets to expand their footprint in UC. These vendors and their channel partners have experience delivering UC to a broad range of enterprise types and into most geographic regions.
Vendors in the Challengers quadrant offer solutions and capabilities with the potential to move into a leadership position, but are lacking in one or more critical areas. Typically, this lack is in the area of market presence or in not being successfully sold in key regions. In other cases, the vendor is strong in all regions, but has elements of its portfolio that are not selling.
Vendors in the Visionaries quadrant offer a strong and differentiating approach to one or more core areas. However, these vendors have a limited ability to execute across the entire set of requirements and markets, or have marketing and distribution limits to their ability to challenge the leading providers.
Vendors in the Niche Players quadrant offer solutions that are particularly strong in some, but not all, UC areas, or they have a solution that has limited market reach or appeal.
Enterprises developing UC plans face difficult choices. At a high level, they must choose between a longer-term commitment to an on-premises approach versus a cloud strategy. This will have a significant effect on defining their roadmap and on selecting the specific vendors and solutions. Developing a UC deployment roadmap is often complicated because planners will often need to leverage existing telephony and video investments, and because the specific needs will vary between different groups within an organization.
Gartner considers UC to be an “early mainstream solution,” which means that, while solutions are available from multiple vendors, the best practices for UC users, administrators and system integrators have not yet matured. Key solution deficiencies include lack of important features, lack of integration options, lack of client functionality or missing functions on mobile devices, or lack of scaling for more-demanding environments. Key best practices that are still maturing include those for selecting, pricing and deploying solutions, and those needed for increasing end-user adoption. Gartner believes it will take several years of incremental improvements to address these early mainstream issues.
Enterprise planners must also expect considerable change in technology and requirements as they seek not only to leverage UC investments to make their employees more effective, but also to leverage these investments into new work processes. Areas to consider include:
- Business process integration — Significant advances, such as Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), are making it easier to integrate communications directly into business applications.
- Hybrid UC — Many vendors are advancing solutions that allow mixing of on-premises and cloud options, making the migration choices better.
- Federated UC — Federation will provide some enterprises with significant competitive advantage, as they are able to collaborate more effectively with partners and customers.
- Tactical use of point conferencing solutions — Enterprises are finding that using UC enables considerable savings in conferencing. This is then coupled with specific video solutions for functions that are lacking in the UC solution.
- New generation of UC clients — Many vendors are now working on a new generation of UC client that leverages context, analytics and persistent omnichannel meetings, and which is highly effective on mobile platforms.
- Real-time workgroup extensions for UC — Increasingly, Gartner is seeing enterprise interest in extending their UC functionality with a range of functions that include project-focused interactions, activity streams, contextual file storage and the ability to stay in continuous communication.
The last year saw several significant changes in the vendor positioning in this Magic Quadrant — some driven by strategy, some driven by market performance and some driven by changes in technology. In the Leaders quadrant, Microsoft and Cisco maintained their strong leads in the market. Cisco executed well in the market and on its strategy for evolving its next generation of UC services. Microsoft’s solution continues to attract significant market growth. However, the rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business created confusion for many users. The confusion has been exacerbated by the mixed messages Microsoft is delivering regarding what Skype for Business functionality will be available as part of Office 365 and when it will be available, versus what will be delivered through partners and how long before that partner functionality will be displaced by Microsoft’s own offer. The result is a lack of clarity regarding Microsoft’s UC roadmap.
Avaya remained in the Leaders quadrant. It made year-over-year improvements in its portfolio and market execution. However, it continues to be selected on the basis of its telephony, rather than the other elements of the portfolio, which keeps it from advancing in the broader UC market. Mitel remained in the Leaders quadrant with both a good UC vision and market execution. Its acquisition of Mavenir provides a longer-term vision and potential as a cloud solution provider with strong mobile capabilities.
This year, ShoreTel moved into the Visionaries quadrant based on its Connect product’s ability to handle distributed and hybrid cloud deployment. IBM remained in the Visionaries quadrant based on its positioning of UC as part of a broader collaboration and social portfolio.
NEC and ALE maintained their positions year over year in the Challengers quadrant. Both vendors have full UC solutions, and now need to execute better to advance.
Niche Player vendors typically offer strong solutions in specific markets, but not across the broader spectrum of UC markets. Unify moved from the Visionaries quadrant to the Niche Players quadrant. While Unify has made significant organizational, rebranding and product changes, including the release of the Circuit cloud product, it has not grown its UC market share at a pace with the broader market and in North America. Huawei, while strong in certain markets, is not established in other key markets. Interactive Intelligence continues to excel where its UC solution can be coupled with its contact center offering.
Several vendors offer strong UC functionality in specific areas, but were not included in this Magic Quadrant, because the inclusion criteria required that vendors have a full on-premises UC solution. In the area of conferencing, Polycom and several other vendors offer strong solutions, but were not included because they do not offer solutions in other technology areas. In the area of UM, Applied Voice & Speech Technologies (AVST) offers a best-of-breed solution, but not a full UC suite. Esna (recently acquired by Avaya) and gUnify (recently acquired by Vonage) offer a useful middleware approach for integrating disparate UC environments, including the integration of Google with enterprise telephony and video. Finally, UC service providers (e.g., AT&T, Google, Verizon, Orange Business Services and HP) were not included in this research, because they do not offer on-premises solutions, but rather offer UCaaS or UC on a leased basis; those types of UC service solutions are evaluated in “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, North America With Additional Regional Presence.”
Ability to Execute
Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.
Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization’s financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization’s portfolio of products.
Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor’s capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.
Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor’s history of responsiveness.
Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization’s message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This “mind share” can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.
Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.
Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.
Completeness of Vision
Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers’ wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers’ wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.
Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.
Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.
Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor’s approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.
Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor’s underlying business proposition.
Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.
Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.
Geographic Strategy: The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the “home” or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.