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Cisco is top unified communications choice; UC spending rises

Cisco was picked as the most compelling unified communications (UC) vendor among respondents to SearchVoIP.com's VoIP and UC survey. The survey also found that many respondents' UC spending will increase next year.

Cisco's unified communications offerings are of the most interest to respondents of SearchVoIP.com's recent VoIP...

and unified communications survey, completed earlier this month.

Almost 82% of survey respondents said Cisco has the strongest and most interesting story and product offerings when it comes to unified communications (UC). Cisco was followed by Avaya, 48%; Microsoft, 44%; and Nortel, 38%. Rounding out the top ten were Alcatel-Lucent, IMB/Lotus, Siemens, 3Com, Polycom and ShoreTel.

The survey queried nearly 500 respondents in various roles within their organizations -- including IT/network/systems operations staff, mid-level IT managers, network engineers, consultants, telecommunications managers and other IT staff members -- about their plans for UC and VoIP.

Despite Cisco's claiming the top spot among respondents, many indicated that they are confused about Cisco's and Microsoft's positions in the UC market. The largest group, 30%, said they don't know where each of the major UC vendors fits. Just over 27% noted that Cisco and Microsoft offer different approaches and compete with each other, while 21% said the two vendors offer different approaches but maintain a partnership. In addition, 16% said Cisco and Microsoft offer similar approaches but compete with each other, while 6% said they believe the pair offer similar approaches and are partners.

When asked where they procure UC solutions, 29% of respondents said they go directly to a single manufacturer or vendor. A similar number, 28%, buy one solution through VARs, resellers or integrators. And 19% buy directly from multiple manufacturers or vendors.

For more on UC
Read what else our survey found about unified communications

Find out why you need VoIP for unified communications

Learn more about defining unified communications

Check out whether Microsoft OCS will change UC and VoIP
And although respondents believe that Cisco offers the most compelling UC story and products, the survey results show that Microsoft has a strong grip on the messaging space, with nearly 20% of respondents indicating that they have Microsoft Office Communicator installed as their primary messaging platform. Cisco's Unified Presence Server ranked second, with 17%, followed by Avaya SIP Enablement Services, 13%; IBM Lotus Sametime, 10%; and Nortel Multimedia Communications System 5100, 9%. The largest group of respondents, 35%, said that they have no messaging platform currently installed.

When it comes to various communications applications, what respondents have installed or planned runs the gamut. The following is a list of applications and where in the installation process respondents are:

  • Click to call/PC softphones: Installed, 28%; implementing within the next year, 16%; evaluating, 19%; not planned 31%
  • Find me/Follow me: Installed, 21%; implementing within the next year, 12%; evaluating, 24%; not planned 35%
  • Instant messaging and presence: Installed, 40%; implementing within the next year, 16%; evaluating, 21%; not planned 20%
  • Audio conferencing: Installed, 65%; implementing within the next year, 9%; evaluating, 15%; not planned 10%
  • Contact management: Installed, 33%; implementing within the next year, 17%; evaluating, 21%; not planned 21%
  • Web conferencing: Installed, 40%; implementing within the next year, 14%; evaluating, 26%; not planned 17%
  • IP videoconferencing: Installed, 32%; implementing within the next year, 17%; evaluating, 30%; not planned 17%
  • Telepresence systems: Installed, 12%; implementing within the next year, 12%; evaluating, 28%; not planned 38%
  • Application and documentation collaboration: Installed, 33%; implementing within the next year, 16%; evaluating, 25%; not planned 20%
  • Text-to-speech or interactive voice response: Installed, 17%; implementing within the next year, 11%; evaluating, 20%; not planned 43%
  • Call redirection for problem resolution: Installed, 24%; implementing within the next year, 15%; evaluating, 22%; not planned 30%
  • Communication-enabled portals: Installed, 18%; implementing within the next year, 15%; evaluating, 26%; not planned 31%

Even with the disparity among applications that are installed, pending installation or not planned, the majority of survey respondents indicated that they plan to increase their spending on UC and applications that enable it in the coming year.

According to the survey, 15% of respondents expect their UC spending to increase by 10% to 25% from 2007 to 2008. Another 15% expect to spend 25% to 50% more next year than this. And 11% expect to spend over 50% more on UC solutions next year than they did in 2007.

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