Cisco Launches UC Blitz vs. Microsoft
Cisco officials argue that in a rapidly changing business environment that is dealing with significant trends such as cloud computing, increased mobility, more mobile devices and bring-your-own-device (BYOD), their approach fits best. Laying the groundwork, Michael Smith, senior director of collaboration solutions at Cisco, noted the growth in cloud (80 percent of new applications will be cloud-based), video (by 2015, 1.2 million minutes of video will be sent each second) and mobility (4.6 iPhones are sold every second worldwide, compared with 4.2 births every second). “As a species, we are making more iPhones than people,” Smith told eWEEK. In its collaboration survey, Cisco got responses from 3,320 IT leaders—full-time employees with procurement responsibilities—in nine countries, and asked them questions regarding mobility, cloud, quality and reliability and support. The responses validated Cisco’s approach when compared with Microsoft’s, Smith said.He said Microsoft’s Windows-first approach to collaboration would limit the flexibility that enterprises need in a BYOD world, noting that 72 percent of respondents agreed. Cisco has been working in the BYOD field for several years, and supports a range of operating systems.“Microsoft is Windows-centric,” Smith said. “It remains to be seen if Office will support other platforms. … [Businesses] need to find a multi-platform vendor.” He also said Microsoft is playing catch-up in cloud-based communications, giving Cisco an edge. He noted that in the survey, 80 percent said they expect to get enterprise-grade voice and video from the cloud. Cisco is working with carriers to bring voice and video to the cloud, while some of the features found in Lync—such as persistent group chat, dial-in audio conferencing and interoperability with on-premises video conferencing solutions—are not yet seen in Lync Online, the company’s cloud offering. “Customers don’t want to have to compromise between on-premises [solutions] and the cloud,” Smith said. However, Microsoft is making a strong push into the cloud with Office 365, a cloud-based suite of office solutions that was launched less than two years ago, and is still maturing. In addition, the company released Lync 2013 in November 2012 as part of Office 2013 with various enhancements designed to make communications manageable and reliable, Microsoft’s Mezgec said. “Communications is a very personal, human experience,” he said. “We want to let people do what they want to do.” However, Cisco’s Smith said that according to the survey, many businesses are not yet ready to rely heavily on Lync. About 47 percent of respondents said they don’t use Lync for business-critical external communications, while most—87 percent—want a single number to call for support. Microsoft’s multi-vendor approach—such as relying on Polycom for video conferencing—makes that difficult, Smith said. “This is one of those areas where Cisco and Microsoft differ,” Smith said.