The competition for unified communications is strong and getting stronger, thanks to the increasing availability and affordability of IP communications and a glut of vendors that with everything from UC infrastructure platforms to UC-ready end points are trying to lay claim to UC supremacy.
But to Cisco, supremacy in products means nothing without the architecture to house them. It's Cisco's combination of UC products and UC architecture--a vision, a platform, a conduit and a set of end points-- that's convinced partners of Cisco's continued UC dominance. That's especially true in the category of Product Innovation, where Cisco outgunned Avaya and Microsoft.
Edison Peres, senior vice president of Cisco's worldwide partner organization, told CRN that Cisco had burrowed its way into UC a decade ago, changed the game, and is now looking to do the same with data center and virtualization. UC and VoIP, to Cisco, are part of a macro vision of the network at the center of everything from collaboration to cloud to data center functionality, and Cisco's aim, said Peres, is to enable partners to drive opportunity from that vision.
"It's incremental opportunity and new market spaces and verticals for customers, and our thought leadership role is to help them see what they don't see today," Peres told CRN in an interview at Everything Channel's XChange Americas in August.
"Any company that specializes in collaboration understands that truly unifying and simplifying today's dynamic work environment is an undertaking that cannot be taken lightly," said Michael Frangipane, senior solutions architect at BlueWater Communications, a New York-based Cisco Gold partner.
Both Cisco's acquisition of Tandberg and its collaboration platform, Quad, are two recent examples of Cisco underscoring its commitment to bigger-picture UC infrastructure, he said, and how the channel can profit from it.
Much has been said about Cisco's UC dominance against a widening range of UC competitors. And although Cisco did take overall honors in the category, it's Microsoft that may represent its fiercest UC challenger in the years to come.