Dell UC Management Software Grows Microsoft, Cisco Support

The company's Unified Communications Command Suite adds analytics capabilities for Microsoft's Office 365 and Cisco's Unified Communications Manager.

Dell isn't taking any sides in the ongoing competition in the unified communications space between Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

The latest version of Dell's Unified Communications Command Suite diagnostic software not only adds analytics reporting for Microsoft's Office 365 for Exchange Online, but also for Cisco's Unified Communications Manager.

Dell's Unified Communications Command Suite 8.1, which is available now, gives organizations insight into what unified communications (UC) technology is being used, how it's being used and by what employees, enabling them to more easily decide what technologies to continue using and which ones to set aside. The result is increased productivity and reduced costs in such areas as support and software platform acquisitions and renewals.

Such information is important given the growing importance organizations are placing on UC in their businesses, according to Curtis Johnstone, senior product architect and Microsoft Lync MVP for Dell Software.

"Organizations are looking to Office 365 and Cisco UC, along with Microsoft Exchange and Lync/Skype for Business, to make life easier and enable better communication and collaboration among employees," Johnstone said in a statement. "To understand the true value and impact of all of these unified communications systems within the organization, it is critical to have a single source of truth that aggregates usage, trends and adoption data to enable better business decisions, enforce communication policies and rationalize and standardize the organization's UC investment."

Microsoft and Cisco are among the top vendors in a UC market that is highly competitive and shifting toward the cloud. According to a survey earlier this year by blog site No Jitter, 35 percent of the 246 respondents currently run at least one function of Microsoft Lync as well as Cisco's UC products, and almost half of those organizations expect that situation to run into the future, saying they need to run both, according to a post on the site by Eric Krapf, program co-chairman of the Enterprise Connect events and No Jitter editor.

Another 24 percent said they had already standardized on Microsoft, while 11 percent said they had standardized on Cisco.

"So, at least based on this survey, the bottom line on the main 'Cisco or Microsoft?' question seems to be that about half of enterprises are inclined to choose both, and that of those picking one or the other for UC, Microsoft has a slight edge," Krapf wrote. "This seems to resonate with most of what we see anecdotally."

Dell officials said that with Microsoft about to end support for Windows 2003, adoption of Office 365 growing and Exchange 2016 on the way, businesses are increasingly looking to multivendor UC platforms. This will enhance the need for a solution like Dell's Unified Communications Command Suite, which can help organizations better decide where to place their investments.

The offering's latest features include native support for Office 365, which officials said extends what native reports cover by delivering insights into email usage and trends to ensure communications policies are followed and that data in the most common form of communication—email—is easily available.

Support for Cisco's Unified Communications Manager offers information on conferences and peer-to-peer sessions, compares how the technology is being used in comparison with Microsoft Skype for Business and delivers data round usage and trends.

Dell's software also supports Skype for Business 2015, which will enable businesses to gauge employee adoption of the new technology.