Enterprise Connect, the industries largest business communications show, gets underway next week in Orlando. While the themes for the event have changed over the years, one that has not in over a decade is how to get Microsoft and Cisco UC solutions to work better together.
While there are many unified communications (UC) vendors, Cisco and Microsoft hold most of the market share and mindshare. Market data from Synergy Research shows Cisco maintaining a slight lead over Microsoft in the battle for UC supremacy with the two holding a healthy lead over the No.3 vendor, Avaya.
This doesn’t mean half the customers are choosing Cisco and the other half Microsoft. Most customers want to leverage both vendors. The problem is that running two systems means two sets of management tasks, two user databases to maintain, twice as many steps to provision features, two dial plans to maintain and the list goes on and on. Clearly, not an ideal scenario.
At Enterprise Connect, VOSS Solutions will be demonstrating its “single pane of glass” management platform for Cisco and Microsoft UC. VOSS has been one of the leading UC management vendors (also known as Business Communications Operations Management [BCOM]) for years and has provided a rich set of features to Cisco environments. This week it announced it has extended the scope of its flagship product, VOSS-4-UC to included Microsoft UC capabilities, specifically Skype for Business, Exchange on premises solutions as well as the red hot SaaS based Office 365.
The VOSS management platform offers a tightly integrated provisioning architecture with Active Directory integration as well as a highly customizable GUI and bulk loading configuration options.
Customers can use the VOSS-4-UC solution for the following:
- Automated fulfillment management. The company claims that this is six times faster than manual processes. Given the complexity of fulfillment management, I would suspect that 6x is the low end. Organizations that have poor internal processes are likely to see an improvement of at least 10x.
- Customized interface. VOSS shoots for 80% to 90% of the customer’s features to be “out of the box” with the other 10% to 20% being something the customer can easily customize through a flexible GUI.
- Non business disruptive. The VOSS solution can be added to current UC deployment with no impact to end users.
- Integration into other platforms. VOSS-4-UC is an open platform so customers can connect it to other IT systems and automate additional workflows.
- Complete management. VOSS manages 100% of the features of the underlying UC platform.
- Self service capabilities so users can “self manage” basic tasks.
- Rich UC analytics. This can monitor what features are being used. Businesses can use the data to understand what licenses to buy on a per-user basis instead of buying everything for everyone.
All of the above features and benefits have been in place for Cisco but now apply to Microsoft or hybrid Cisco/Microsoft deployments. These new capabilities offer the following benefits:
- Lower operational expenses with centralized multi-vendor management. IT now performs management tasks once instead of twice.
- The ability to easily move, add, change and delete users across both vendors.
- Standardized operations obviates the need for specialized Cisco and/or Microsoft training.
- Integrated analytics and reporting across both systems.
- Seamless movement of users between Cisco and Microsoft environments.
Historically, doing any kind of UC management across vendors has been hard, if not impossible. VOSS-4-UC brings “end to end” management across both leading UC solutions, enabling the IT department to spend more time doing strategic things, rather than spending hours managing disparate systems.