Unified communications Battle Royale: Cisco, Avaya feel the heat from Microsoft Lync

By , Network World |  Unified Communications, Avaya, Cisco

Microsoft's Surface tablets and laptops compete against other hardware vendors, Cisco says, which poses a conflict of interest when it comes to supporting bring-your-own-device programs. Microsoft might restrict full Lync features to Microsoft devices rather than making them all available to all devices.

Cisco faults Microsoft for not supplying all the infrastructure elements needed to support unified communications and collaboration. This means involving integrators and a laundry list of vendors to flesh out Lync deployments.

A Cisco white paper criticizes Lync license structure, choice of video codecs and lack of full Lync support in Microsoft's cloud service Office 365.

Cisco attacks what it interprets as Microsoft's strategy for Skype. It says in the white paper that Skype will evolve to run better on Microsoft's own software platforms than on others, at least according to this statement from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: "We always want Skype to be first and best on Windows."

For its part Avaya raises these issues plus a few more. It questions whether Lync is resilient enough to provide 99.999% uptime for telephony services, long the industry standard among telecom carriers, says Vincenzo Signore, vice president of marketing at Avaya.

He says Microsoft's video collaboration in Lync won't support as many on-screen images of other participants as Avaya's Aura platform and by requiring longer contract commitments for enterprise support may force businesses to be locked in to Microsoft.

Signore cites a Nemertes study that finds Lync's first-year total costs are higher than those for any of the top contenders [see graphic]. While Lync client access licenses may be inexpensive other costs - capital, implementation, operational - jack up the price.

In presentations at Lync Conference 2013 Microsoft executives made several announcements that address some of these concerns. "Microsoft filled some major holes," Lazar says.

The most gaping of these is a lack of broad support for mobile devices. Microsoft announced support for voice and video over iPhones and Android devices, as well as the capability to handle voice over Wi-Fi, Lazar says, along with administration tools to use Wi-Fi when available vs. cellular connections as a cost saving measure. "That takes away one Cisco line of attack - 'Good luck using Lync on an iPad,'" Lazar says.

Microsoft needed a Web client that lets Mac devices participate in meetings, and having one takes a good talking point away from Cisco and other competitors, Lazar says.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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