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What are the benefits of vendor-agnostic UC hardware?

Organizations that want to switch UC platforms without sacrificing hardware investments can find benefits in vendor-agnostic UC hardware. But the benefits can come with tradeoffs.

The topic of proprietary versus vendor-agnostic endpoints often bubbles to the top of budget conversations for businesses trying to squeeze every last ounce out of their unified communications, or UC, hardware purchases.

At one time, it was common for vendors to create UC platforms that forced customers to use proprietary voice and video endpoints. Cisco was perhaps most famous for this practice as early iterations of its CallManager platform required endpoints use the proprietary Skinny Client Control Protocol (SCCP) to connect to voice and video services.

However, as time went on, other voice over IP and UC vendors began heavily promoting the use of the standards-based Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to connect endpoints to communications services. Standards-compliant UC hardware meant they could often be used seamlessly on other UC platforms that support SIP.

The idea of universal endpoints resonated with many organizations -- especially those planning to switch UC platforms only to realize they would have to abandon their proprietary endpoints.

The benefit of using vendor-agnostic UC hardware rests in the fact that businesses aren't locked into a specific vendor or platform. Instead, communications endpoints can be reused if the organization decides to switch UC platforms down the road.

That said, it's important to note that some vendors offer endpoints that run both proprietary and standards-based protocols. In some cases, these devices offer features and capabilities that are only available when using proprietary protocols. Thus, while some phones and video conferencing hardware may tout their ability to work with third-party UC platforms using SIP, understand there may be some feature limitations. That's why an important step in selecting UC endpoints is to be certain they provide the features and benefits the business demands when using a standard like SIP.

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