What Gartner says about the sectors it covers matters, and its "Magic Quadrant" report about unified communications – which was written by Bern Elliot and Steve Blood and released last week – is good news for the sector.
The introduction to the long document paints a picture of a sector that is maturing – but is not quite there. The old tension of best-of-breed versus the one-vendor approach is slowly being settled in favor of the latter. Blood and Elliot write that UC “portfolios” are being replaced by “suites.”
The main difference is that suites are better integrated and the elements are more likely to work together seamlessly. The flip side, the introduction says, is that some of the elements of the suites are not optimum:
The emerging generation of UC suites poses a conflict for enterprise decision makers and planners. Although these UC suites offer the full spectrum of UC functionality, in most cases, they do not offer best-of-breed functionality in all areas and, in some UC areas, barely offer "good enough" functionality.
The decision, then, hasn't changed: Companies can go with unified communications platforms that are comprised of great individual tools that have trouble working together or platforms that interoperate seamlessly but are weak in some areas. In the big picture, however, the writers paint a picture of a sector that is on the way to solving that issue as the one-vendor approaches gradually improve.
The ratings of vendors are key, of course. Microsoft is scored as the leading vendor. Here are other highlights:
Leaders are Siemens Enterprise Communications, Microsoft, Cisco, Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent. Challengers are NEC and IBM. Niche players are Huawei Technologies, Aastra Technologies, ShoreTel, Interactive Intelligence, Digium, TeleWare and Toshiba. Finally, Mitel Networks is a visionary. The graphic positions each vendor on two axes: Ability to execute and completeness of vision.