CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

JohnRamz
JohnRamz used Ask the Experts™
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If you were asked why choosing CUC 8.X over OCS/Lync 2010 when the costs of setup and licensing for the MIcrosoft solution are much cheaper?. Please take my word about being cheaper due to particular circumstances in our company.
 
What would your reply be? . I read this document:
 
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns151/C11-604516-00_Evaluating_UC_Solutions_WP.pdf
 
I need a more objective and unbiased resource. If you believe you can still take a "jab" on the cost aspect, elaborate on it. But I am looking more on the benefits and robustness of the solution. A Hybrid solution is not an option. Either all CISCO or all Microsoft.
 
Not even CISCO partners in my area have been able to provide solid answers to this question.
 
Thanks
 
John
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Sr. Systems Engineer
Top Expert 2008
Commented:
Lots of good stuff in that whitepaper, but I'll throw out a few items for thought.

1. Microsoft is a software company new to telephony. Cisco will spend more $ in R&D in one year than the total worth of their next 5 competitors combined. It is the most deployed VoIP system in the world. It's good enough for AirForce One. There is a Cisco phone sitting on the President's desk aboard the airplane.

2. "A Hybrid solution is not an option" - last I heard, Microsoft does not make switches, phones, PRI gateways or analog POTS equipment. You cannot have an "all Microsoft" solution. Period. You have one vendors switches, another vendors voice gateway, another vendor's server hardware, maybe Microsoft's softphones, and who's desktop phones?  Who do you point the finger at when the quality doesn't work like you need it to or a specific feature doesn't work? Cisco is (or at least can be) absolutely 100% Cisco product solution end-end.

3. Based on the Microsoft hybrid solution, you won't find any qualified technical experts to help implement or support the system. Every system is going to be a "one-off" custom solution.  Most Microsoft engineers have never had any background in Voice or telephony, or routing and switching, so they have to learn something new. How many Microsoft engineers really understand Multicasting and the effects it has on the network? Most Cisco engineers simply enhance what they already know - data networking - with a new application of data. They don't have to become MCSE's, too. I would suggest that finding a competent Cisco voice expert to help implement and support your system would be much easier to find. If you don't get what you need, there's another one right behind him (or her) ready to help.  Do a quick Google search comparison for "microsoft voice engineer" and "cisco voice engineer" and see that you get MILLIONS more results with Cisco.. Not to mention the world-class Cisco TAC support with quality engineers available 24x7 at no additional cost to you.

4. Interoperability. There is no question that because Cisco is the "big kahuna" of Voice, other vendors clamor to be "Cisco compatible" with products that enhance the Cisco experience, or add even more functionality, or just plain interoperate. I have yet to see an iPhone app for Windows OCS, but there are several Cisco apps. Even works on iPad!

5. Do we really need to even touch on the security/vulnerability aspects of a Microsoft /Hybrid solution? How many patches come out each week? How many times do you have to reboot a Windows server? Quite often, actually. That means downtime for the whole system just to reboot the server to apply a new patch. Then you may have compatibility problems after the patch and have to roll back. I've seen Cisco implementations where nothing was rebooted in almost 4 years. Every component of a Cisco Voice solution was designed with security in mind, and maybe once a year there may be a security "fix" that may be applied, to a switch, a router, or voice server, based on a very specific combination of features that typically will not even apply to your solution. You would probably be upgrading to get new features at least once a year anyway...

6. Without more information on your exact requirements, it is impossible to say either one is better than the other for YOU. How large is the project? How much do you depend on Voice services? How many sites? What is the level of expertise in-house to support any solution? Do you need advanced Voice services such as Call Center, Auto Attendant, automatic call distribution? What kind of voice system do you have now? What are the end-users used to? One of the most difficult things about any VoIP deployment is getting the end-users to understand that their whole concepts of 1 phone-line = 1 phone button go completly out the window. When talking budget, consider the total Cost of Ownership and get a competent Cisco partner to help you do a ROI analysis of what your costs are today compared to a Cisco solution that can save a lot of money over time, even when the up-front investment appears to be more $ than a competitive, partial solution. Be sure to evaluate ALL costs for implementing and maintaining/supporting the total package from either vendor. You may see that a total Cisco solution is not as expensive as it seems.





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Commented:
lrmoore,

Man! man! you're so much in tune with technology that I believe you did not even have to think so hard to provide this reply. It just flows!. Very logical and helpful your reply. Great points you made and I agree with them all.

One more question, what does it justify replacing PBXs with a CISCO VOIP system? what are the greater benefits besides saving money on long distance calls between company sites?. If I could get another inspiring answer from you that would be awesome. If you want me to I could open another thread for this one.

Thanks

John

Les MooreSr. Systems Engineer
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
I think of it like this - a PBX is a phone system. Period. Phones are phones and nothing else.
A Cisco VOIP system is so much more. It is a total COMMUNICATION system. We communicate today in so many ways other than by simple telephone. We can fully integrate end-user productivity with the phones. The phone just becomes one of many communications methods within a fully integrated system.
It means I can have 1 phone number for "single number reach" that follows me everywhere I go. Whether it be to my cell phone, my beach house, or the local coffee shop. I can be on a cell phone, blackberry, iPhone, iPad even, laptop - anything and anywhere and I can fully collaborate with my peers/customers/whoever. I can call phone numbers, I can email, I can IM, I can video, WebeX desktop share, all with one integrated system and simple point/click intrface. It means I can use Extension mobility so if I'm working in another office, I log into the phone and my whole phone follows me. No moving hardware, no moving wires, no re-programming anything. It means I can keep track of my collegues with there Presence status. Bill's on the phone, so I'll fire off a quick IM and still get the answer I need without playing phone-tag. Bob's out with a client, so I'll leave him a voice mail. A fully integrated, automated in-out board without buying anything else.

I can integrate voice mail with email, so that if I do get a voice mail, it gets dropped as email in my inbox on my blackberry/smartphone and I never miss an important message.

I can integrate my  phones with my utilites and access-control system so that when I badge in the front door, my phone turns on and is ready to use. I can integrate my video surveillance with the phone and the access control so when someone walks up to the front entrance, the image is immediately sent to the receptionist's phone and she can press #123 to open the door, or pres #224 to alert security.  . . .

Let's see your old PBX do that! Let's see it do *anything* other than ring a number - a number that is hard-coded to a specific pair of real copper wires.

I had a customer with an old style phone system. They were attorneys, and if they were not in their office they would have to call their secretary, have her walk into the office and listen to the voice messages (old analog system from Wal-Mart), write them down, walk back to her desk and relay the message. Several secretaries had to cover for each other for lunch, etc. With a new Cisco VoIP system, the secretary is virtually obsolete. The attorneys get their voicemails automagically delivered right to their blackberry the instant someone leaves a message. Even in courtrooms, they can pull out the phone and fire off a quick text message to reply.  At $400 an hour bill rates for attorneys, anything that saves even 30 minutes out of a day is money in the bank. With increased billings alone, the system paid for itself in less than 6 months.
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Author

Commented:
Thanks lrmoore..500 points does not compensate your time and good answer. Can you also provide me a link to a OCS configuration example where it details that there is not such thing as "full MICROSOFT" showing all the different pieces needed from other vendors.?

Thanks again!

Author

Commented:
More than satisfied. He knocked it out of the park!
Les MooreSr. Systems Engineer
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Click on "Learn more about Telephony" link under Telephony section.
http://www.microsoft.com/uc/en/us/products.aspx

Page 11 has a picture of Polycom phone . .
Page 17 begins talk of "Partner Ecosystems" that talks about 3rd party integration products such as voice gateways, and "UC enabled PBX" systems
Nowhere in the document does it talk about anything infrastructure, things like PoE switches, network VLANs, network QoS, multicast control, desktop phone sets, etc..
VASTLY oversimplified in the graphics.

Author

Commented:
thanks again!

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