Unified communications is a rapidly growing and evolving market, with new products and solutions announced on what seems to be a daily basis. The unified communications (UC) market is composed of various elements and components, provided by a variety of vendors. There are several groups of players in the enterprise UC arena, all coming from different directions: the switch, enterprise IM and presence, messaging, mobile devices, conferencing/collaboration, applications and so on.
The vendors are approaching UC from various angles, and enterprises need to figure out which approach makes the most sense for their particular environment. For example, most of the switch vendors view the IP PBX as the starting point for UC capabilities. Cisco's approach is based on the converged IP network, while IBM views presence as the starting point, and Microsoft sees the desktop as the heart of UC. All of these approaches make sense and have pros and cons, and companies need to determine which fits best with their philosophy.
Each month, SearchUnifiedCommunications.com will profile a key UC vendor to help you better understand the company's business model and how it may fit into your UC strategy.
Cisco defines UC as voice, video, data and mobile applications unified on fixed and mobile networks that enhance business productivity and facilitate agility by accelerating decision time and reducing transaction time. Cisco notes that its UC solutions are architected to be open in order to ensure interoperability from the physical infrastructure to the application layer and to be secure in order to protect users and businesses. The Cisco solution uses the network as the platform to deliver an open and inclusive experience to users across disparate workspaces.
Cisco offers various delivery models for UC services, including on-premises, on-demand, hybrid on-premises/on-demand, and managed. Cisco has an end-to-end UC solution spanning from the network infrastructure to applications, services and devices/endpoints, enabling the company to deliver control of the end-to-end user experience as well as security and reliability at the application, call control, device/endpoint, and network infrastructure levels.
Cisco's UC offerings include:
- Cisco Unified Presence, which delivers IM and click-to-call features, serving as an integration point for presence published by other applications, including IBM Sametime and Microsoft LCS/OCS.
- Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, a software client providing a single user interface for IM, telephony, presence, collaboration, messaging and video.
- Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator, for a mobile collaboration client with presence.
- Cisco Unified MeetingPlace and Unified MeetingPlace Express for audio, video and Web conferencing.
- Cisco Unity and Unity Connection, for unified messaging.
In addition, Cisco offers Web conferencing and collaboration services, based on its acquisition of WebEx. Cisco WebEx provides Software as a Service (SaaS) Web collaboration, and Cisco WebEx Connect provides what Cisco describes as "everything a business needs to securely instant message, share files, collaborate, launch meetings, and manage projects." Cisco is leveraging the WebEx service and network to get into the SaaS space, focusing on collaboration.
About the author:
Blair Pleasant provides consulting and market research analysis on voice/data convergence markets and technologies, aimed at helping end-user and vendor clients both strategically and tactically. Prior to COMMfusion, she was director of communications analysis for The PELORUS Group, a market research and consulting firm, and president of Lower Falls Consulting.