Watch out, Lync! There is a new kid on the block

This week has been a busy one at within the Cisco Collaboration space and a week that should have most Microsoft buyers stop in their tracks and take notice.

The problem:

In the latest permutation of the Microsoft Core Client Access License Suite (Core Cal Suite) Microsoft essentially added Lync Standard and upped the price by 10%. This caused a lot of angst with customers of mine who felt compelled to at least try Lync for voice and video since they had no choice but to pony up the 10% and get it. Of course, Microsoft would have you believe that you got Lync “for free”. It should be noted that this does not include the Lync Enterprise features (a higher degree of resiliency and Conferencing as examples) or ability to call outside the organization, which comes in the Plus Cal.

The issue is that Lync is terribly immature at the voice and video workloads, and we have seen many folks throw money at trying to make it work in the enterprise, with minimal success. In fact reference customers like Sprint (which was a reference back three years ago) are still being trotted out at major trade shows by Microsoft, despite Sprint using Cisco UC as the platform to deliver UC Services to it’s own customers in 2012.

In fact, Gartner has a paper published which specifically warns about “understand the market hype surrounding Lync PBX displacement”

Up till now, its been challenging for these customers to rationalize the additional investment in Enterprise and Plus CALs (let alone one they were forced to make with the Core Cal increase)  to reach what amounts to an immature Voice/Video solution still.

Technology always moves forward

As with all technology, all the solutions will continue to be invested in and deliver better and more complete offerings. This certainly includes Microsoft improving their solution, but it also includes the work that Cisco is wrapping up and shipping this year.

Cisco has not been sitting on it’s hands while Microsoft worked on their Lync product, and what we will see this year are the fruits of their labour over the last few years.


The latest “leapfrog” has been delivered from Cisco, which delivers the same great user experience for IM and Presence , at an even lower price than Lync Standard (At no additional cost) while also delivering their rock solid, interoperable Call Control, Voice and Video solution baked-in for the same type of “incremental” cost as the Microsoft Plus CAL.

In his blog post, Barry O’Sullivan outlined two major announcements:

  • Cisco had shipped its 50 millionth IP Phone, up 20 million in the last two years. (We are still waiting for customers to stop buying phones and move to deploy only soft clients – but even Microsoft has partnered with Snom and Polycom since customers still want sets)
  • Cisco is now enabling Cisco UC Manager customers to turn on IM and Presence services at no additional cost for their entire organization.

So for those who invested in Cisco’s UC solutions, they can now turn on Instant Messaging and Presence for all users in their org. Fantastic investment protection, but also innovation in the move from SIP/SIMPLE to XMPP (Which is the IM protocol of choice for folks like Google, Facebook, Apple and others use, allowing much more flexibility, scale etc).

On Monday Cisco also announced that Cisco Jabberfor Windows, their next-generation client on the OS began shipping. This fills out the portfolio across Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Nokia, Windows as well as in their Web SDK – all with not only IM and Presence capability, but Voice and in cases where the devices are capable enough, HiDef Video.

The client is highly optimized for HD Video and can deliver the same quality and framerate at about half the CPU of the competitors – which is a big deal unless you have Quad core processors deployed to everyone.

Liberation! Work using any devices, from basic services like No-cost IM/P all the way up to HD Telepresence

If your organization, like ours, has users with devices other than PCs (Our users have on average 2.4 devices) then clearly more than 60% are not running Windows. Thats well over half.

Cisco can enable all those devices to participate in IM and Presence at no cost, but can also enable all of them for Voice and full Web Collaboration. In addition a significant chunk of them (also around 60%) can be enabled for HD Video too (Think HD Video on tablets like iPad [Demo video here on iOS, here on android and again here on iOS and here] interoperating seamlessly with your corporate devices, or even free clients for your friends, family or partners so they can participate too).

And all the while, Microsoft is tying still to just figure out voice and video for their core strength only: Windows.


6 thoughts on “Watch out, Lync! There is a new kid on the block

  1. The Enterprise CAL has nothing to do with Resiliency. The Enterprise CAL is conferencing functionality (hey, my warehouse guy doesn’t need to host webinars). Lync Server Standard Edition allows up to 8,000 users and does offer some resiliency such as a backup registrar and survivable telephony. Lync Server Enterprise Edition allows you to scale to 80,000 users in a pool (and you can have multiple pools) and adds a higher degree of resiliency.

  2. Uh, so are you saying that Cisco’s response to the market moving to written/text based communications over voice (voice minutes are in decline worldwide) is to adopt the Microsoft strategy which has been consistent for over a decade? What about the Jabber/Skype integration story, will that come out in 2020? Everyone I know uses txt messages or IMs in preference to phone calls, relying on a PBX to have an IM strategy is rooted in 1982.

  3. As Roger mentioned above, Lync Standard can provide resiliency with DNS Load balancing and it’s nothing to do with the Enterprise CAL. Also Microsoft EA customers will any how get the Server License with Software Assurance. Lync can be still consider as an immature platform but, you should not forget that it’s far greater than the OCS, OCS R2 and will be better in CS 15.

  4. I think some MSFT guys are offended here. If a customer has a large CUCM deployment, they have invested heavily in this architecture. For many years, IM has been growing. The magic “bridge” for Presence of on/off status was almost there, then MSFT broke it with their closed architecture and code changes to Cisco for marketing reasons. Presence is not a Presence unless you include on/off hook status. If a customer ran CUCM and had OCS and Lync, you dont get on/off status at all. What good is it then? Now that Jabber is free, is compelling for customers to take the time to evaluate the IM environment. Can we change IM providers and add features we did not have? (Such as on/off status, SIP phone, phone control, HD video, etc) It does boil down to costs and features. Now that Jabber can do just about everything Lync can do natively and a little more (or less) for free, and leverage your existing Cisco UC platform.. I think thats pretty huge.

  5. Boy have you drank the Cisco CUWLaid. I agree with the posts above. This sounds more like a desperation move than I strategic move.

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