Unified Communications Complexity Baffles Buyers

Cisco, Microsoft and other major vendors are pushing hard on converged communications platforms. But IT shops are stymied when it comes to integration.


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Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) may be leading the charge in unified communications, but the titans and their competitors face high hurdles in their quest persuade IT buyers to sign up.

A new Infonetics Research report released this week reveals that while top players -- a list that also includes Avaya (NYSE: AV), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Nortel (NYSE: NT) -- are pushing UC products, enterprises are pushing back.

Beyond having to convince enterprises to kick legacy PBX boxes to the curb in favor of VoIP solutions, they also need to address IT shops' serious concerns over product integration.

For many buyers, the looming complexity of ensuring interoperability with existing offerings has emerged as a critical barrier to adoption.

"It's no secret Microsoft is predicting the death of the PBX, to be replaced by a software-based communication approach like [Office Communications Server] 2007; but we didn't find many people convinced that this is yet the way to go," Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst at Infonetics, said in a statement.

The study found companies are keeping IP-based PBXs in play and layering UC software on top. The approach is one reason Microsoft has attained some early success and why IP telephony providers are also gaining traction.

But for the most part, the study found that most enterprises are wrestling with issues around interoperability. While some vendors' offerings support standards and integration with third-party products, others are designed to operate on their own IP-PBX or presence environments.

Recent research from Gartner seconded that finding, reporting that UC architectures will become the biggest challenges given multi-vendor environments and offerings that feature large number of servers acting as gateways -- requiring further, complex integration work.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com. To read the full article, click here.

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