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Dell unveils UC tools for comparing Cisco UCM with Microsoft Skype

Dell's latest version of Unified Communications Command Suite has UC tools for comparing Cisco UC Manager and Microsoft Skype for Business.

Dell has introduced tools to help companies decide whether Cisco Unified Communications Manager or Microsoft Skype for Business meets their communication needs.

This week, Dell released version 8.1 of Unified Communications Command Suite (UCCS), a string of diagnostic tools for UC systems. The latest iteration includes support for Cisco UCM, an IP telephony platform that competes with Skype for Business.

Enterprises today use Cisco UCM, formerly called Unified CallManager, for voice over IP (VoIP), while employing Skype for Business -- formerly Lync -- for chat and presence. To promote Skype's use, Microsoft includes it with Office 365.

As a result, companies considering a communications upgrade are testing Skype to see if they can add voice communications to the platform and replace other vendors' software, said Dell product manager Michael Keenan. "A lot of companies today are really in this decision-making mode."

Comparing Cisco UCM and Skype for Business

To test Skype against Cisco UCM using Dell's UC tools, a company can run Skype through UCM or run the Microsoft software separately through a gateway to a SIP trunk, Keenan said.

Dell UCCS provides metrics on each of the Skype and UCM features that departments are using. To determine the return on investment of each platform, UCCS can produce chargeback reports that compare the costs of each product, said Keenan.

Chargeback is an accounting strategy that applies the costs of IT or UC services, hardware or software to the business unit in which they are used.

Almost 40% of enterprises are planning to adopt a single UC platform, rather than have products from multiple vendors, according to the 2015 Enterprise Technology Benchmark report from Nemertes Research. Of that group, 53% chose Microsoft and 35% chose Cisco.

"They're definitely the [market] leaders," Nemertes analyst Lisa Durant said, noting that the research firm has talked to many enterprises about the capabilities of the vendors' products.

Cisco accounts for 44% of VoIP platforms in production today, Durant said. Microsoft, however, is growing fast, increasing its share from 2% in 2014 to a projected 9% this year.

Microsoft's gains have come at the expense of vendors like Avaya, Inc., Mitel Networks Corp. and ShoreTel. Avaya's share of the VoIP market, for example, is expected to fall from 24% in 2014 to 16% this year.

Dell UCCS costs $15 per UC user registered in Microsoft Active Directory. The software is scheduled for release on July 24.

Next Steps

Deciding between Cisco and Microsoft UC

Comparing features of Cisco and Microsoft UC

What you need to know about Microsoft Skype for Business

Dig Deeper on Unified Communications ROI

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