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Cisco Squeaks Past Microsoft In Gartner UC Ranking

Despite its strength in networking and telephony, Cisco has been chasing Microsoft in unified communications. Now, mobile emphasis may be giving it an edge.

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For the first time, Cisco Systems has inched past Microsoft in the Gartner Magic Quadrant analysis of the unified communications market.

The Gartner analysis isn't really a linear ranking, instead showing major vendors mapped out on a chart composed of four quadrants (niche players, challengers, visionaries, and leaders). Still, placement in the upper right hand corner of the chart reserved for leaders is a prized position. Despite its strong position in networking and Internet telephony, Cisco until now has been lagging slightly behind Microsoft in unified communications--that is, the ability to deliver a bundle of communication and collaboration services that includes voice, video, online presence indicators, instant messaging, and conferencing.

"This is a big change," said Michael Smith, director of marketing for collaboration solutions at Cisco.

Well, maybe not that big. Last year, Gartner showed Cisco and Microsoft virtually neck and neck, but gave the edge to Microsoft. This year, they are still neck and neck, but Cisco has inched ahead.

Microsoft has staked out a strong position by making synchronous collaboration an extension of the product family that includes Microsoft Office and SharePoint. The Microsoft Lync UC product has proven attractive to major corporations like AstraZeneca, as well as smaller businesses. Gartner continues to give the Microsoft product a strong rating, saying it is improving all the time.

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The other vendors Gartner classifies as leaders are Avaya and Siemens Enterprise Communications. Leaders are considered to have the best combination of vision and ability to execute. The report also evaluated vendors classified as challengers (including IBM, Alcatel-Lucent, and NEC), meaning that they are strong enterprise players who are still developing their product vision. Gartner recognized Mitel as a visionary for its strategy of combining UC and virtualization.

Gartner said four factors that were important to this year's rankings were support for a variety of mobile devices and operating systems, support for open standards, cloud deployment options, and broad appeal to the corporate constituencies affected by the choice of a UC solution.

Smith believes Cisco's support for devices like the iPad counted in its favor, in contrast to Microsoft's more limited and tentative support for non-Windows devices. Gartner did cite broad mobile OS support as one area of concern for Microsoft customers.

Gartner credited Cisco with "full UC functionality, including video and telephony, on a broad range of clients, including Apple laptops, iPads, and iPhones, as well as on Android platforms." Cisco also won praise for attractive hybrid cloud and on-premises deployment options. On the other hand, Gartner said Cisco offers a complex portfolio of products that remains "complex to understand and manage."

You can read the full report by following the link from Cisco's blog post on the ranking.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

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User Rank: Apprentice
9/2/2012 | 3:26:19 PM
re: Cisco Squeaks Past Microsoft In Gartner UC Ranking
It is about time Cisco passed Microsoft,joining and passing them in the leaders quadrant. I personally am a little shocked that it took this long, with CiscoGÇÖs dominance in the communications field already. Despite Cisco being able to understand and manage being a little difficult are definitely valid points. I would like to see who they classified as the visionaries and leaders in this report. I like how they promote o[en source by evaluating the companies in this area as well. Cisco might have squeaked by Microsoft in this one but I foresee Cisco not having to squeak by any leaders in the future, I see them leaping past.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
User Rank: Apprentice
9/6/2012 | 5:44:43 AM
re: Cisco Squeaks Past Microsoft In Gartner UC Ranking
This is laughable. Cisco is not ahead of Microsoft by any means.

The last paragraph in this post sums it up:

1.) Gartner credited Cisco with "full UC functionality, including video and telephony, on a broad range of clients, including Apple laptops, iPads, and iPhones, as well as on Android platforms." [Which is not true, Cisco does not have "full" UC functionality for Apple or mobile]

Followed by:

2.) On the other hand, Gartner said Cisco offers a complex portfolio of products that remains "complex to understand and manage."

Cisco does not have FULL UCC, they have FRAGMENTED UC and maybe C with a host of different applications and solutions that they bundle to sell.

Microsoft has a FULL UCC solution, it is one application, and now they have FULL MOBILE UCC thanks to their newly announced partner: Damaka

When I say FULL, I mean the ability to do desktop sharing, application sharing, white boarding, file sharing, audio/video, and chat with PCs and mobile devices. I have Damaka's Xavy app installed on my iPad. I can hold white boarding sessions or desktop/application sharing sessions where I can even take control of another user's PC on the iPad. Also note that Xavy is available for iOS as well as Android for both tablets and smartphones. Who else offers this solution; and with everything packaged in ONE convenient app? No one except Microsoft and Damaka!

Press Release w/ Demo Video of Microsoft's new partner, Damaka:


Microsoft is also slated to launch MS Office support for iOS this Fall. If I were Cisco or IBM, I would be very worried. Microsoft is going to be eating their market-share for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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