It's one of the longest unbroken win streaks in the Annual Report Card survey: VoIP and Unified Communications, a category where, once again, Cisco proved victorious, capturing each of the three subcategories and the overall category score. Cisco has continued to fine-tune its UC and collaboration offerings, doubling down in areas of strength, such as its choice earlier this year to make various features of its Jabber UC offering available at no additional licensing cost to Cisco partners, and pulling back quickly in areas that aren't delivering, such as its move to stop investing in its once-hyped Cius Android tablet.
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Overall, according to Cisco, collaboration represents at least a $42 billion addressable market for Cisco partners, and collaboration software alone is now a more than $1 billion business for the networking king, with more than 60 million Cisco UC licenses in use.
It will need those partner allies to battle some formidable threats. Nipping Cisco's heels in this year's ARC survey was scrappy upstart ShoreTel, which beat out Cisco in several individual scores, such as product quality and reliability, and revenue profit potential, even if it didn't capture any of the subcategories outright. ShoreTel has made some big moves lately around cloud, including the hosted VoIP platform it acquired with M5 Networks.
"There is always a competitor--that's what makes this industry exciting," said Richard McLeod, Cisco senior director, collaboration sales, worldwide partner group. "That competitor seems to change every few years, but we're staying nimble. We enjoy and welcome competitors because it keeps us sharp."