This is a difficult update for me to right. I’ve previously authored an opinion piece with the belief that Cisco is exiting corporate telephony. With that being said, Cisco is still a dominant force in a business that appears to be winding down.
Cisco has a huge product portfolio of products, but they basically boil down to two product suites: Small Business Communications System (SBCS) and Unified Communications Manager (UCM).
SBCS is a pretty nifty product, supporting about 100 phones in an appliance (read: non-server) configuration. This is in direct contrast to all of the other Cisco products which are server based, and the number of ports on the SBCS means that it’s really not a competitive product when compared to the other small business offerings of other organizations.
UCM is the real flagship product of the Cisco Enterprise. UCM supports up to 80,000 users and it is one of the most powerful products in the communications world. It has fully integrated support for a truly end to end SIP Trunked experience. Like most on-premises solutions, UCM allows centralized trunking for reduced network complexity and cost. The two competitive differentiators for UCM are the reliance on Cisco networking technology and the integration of Telepresence.
UCM is part of the Cisco ecosystem, which, depending on your investment in their data networking technology, may or may not be a good thing. If you are an all Cisco shop, UCM is a fantastic product but I wouldn’t recommend running UCM on non-cisco hardware. Cisco Telepresence is fantastic in terms of quality but it is a market leader in cost.
Overall Cisco is a huge presence in the Unified Communications market but its push towards video may cost it with respect to telephony. It’s a great product but are its advantages large enough to ward off lower cost alternatives?