Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor Solutions


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While unified communications can clearly enable more efficient and more consistent communications across any platform, for users in any location, there are different approaches to implementing a unified communications system. A single-vendor approach, such as Microsoft Exchange in combination with Microsoft Lync, can provide a robust unified communications experience and can make users more productive. However, an open approach that leverages cloud-based productivity applications, such as Google Apps integrated with a software and hardware agnostic unified communication platform like Esnatech Office-LinX, permits the re-use of existing PBXs and other systems, and provides the necessary flexibility to allow organizations to adopt a wider variety of less expensive on-premise and cloud-based applications.

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Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor Solutions

  1. 1. WHITE PAPER Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor Solutions An Osterman Research White Paper Published April 2012 sponsored by SPON sponsored by Osterman Research, Inc. P.O. Box 1058 • Black Diamond, Washington • 98010-1058 • USA Tel: +1 253 630 5839 • Fax: +1 253 458 0934 • info@ostermanresearch.com www.ostermanresearch.com • twitter.com/mosterman
  2. 2. Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor SolutionsEXECUTIVE SUMMARYUnified communications provides a number of benefits to any organization:• The ability for users to have an integrated experience that combines their email, voice, Web conferencing, mobile and real time communications and collaboration into a single, cohesive experience.• The ability to have available a consistent interface on any platform, from any location. This enables employees to work from home or while traveling and remain as productive as they are while in the office.• The ability for employees to make decisions more quickly by having all of the information and other tools necessary to communicate and collaborate, regardless of their location.• Significantly reduced IT and telephony costs by integrating various modes of communication into a single and consistent communications platform. An open approach to unified commun-THE MIGRATION TO UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONSOrganizations are migrating toward unified communications because of two key ications permits theissues with conventional communication systems: re-use of existing PBXs and other• Integration of data systems, and In a conventional communications scenario, users employ an email system on a desktop computer, laptop or mobile device; make telephone calls and access provides the email on a desktop telephone or on their mobile device; participate in instant necessary flexibility messaging conversations with a standalone client on their computing to allow organ- platform(s); participate in Web conferencing sessions with yet another standalone client, and so on. These tools allow users to be productive, but the izations to adopt a standalone nature of these applications negatively impacts productivity when wider variety of less users try to share data between the various communication modes or when they expensive on- are out of the office. Further, messaging and telephony are often managed by premise and cloud- separate groups, creating additional problems. based applications.• Organizational flexibility and agility Moreover, the use of Conventional communications tend to limit the flexibility that organizations have open solutions in allowing employees to work remotely. For example, while employees can provides more access corporate email from virtually any Web browser, accessing telephony, fax, Web conferencing and other systems is not as easily accomplished when users flexibility and lower are working remotely. This limits the ability of organizations to enable telework overall costs over and thereby drives up overall IT and telephony costs. the long term.KEY TAKEAWAYSWhile unified communications can clearly enable more efficient and more consistentcommunications across any platform, for users in any location, there are differentapproaches to implementing a unified communications system. A single-vendorapproach, such as Microsoft Exchange in combination with Microsoft Lync, canprovide a robust unified communications experience and can make users moreproductive. However, an open approach that leverages cloud-based productivityapplications, such as Google Apps integrated with a software and hardware agnosticunified communication platform like Esnatech Office-LinX, permits the re-use ofexisting PBXs and other systems, and provides the necessary flexibility to alloworganizations to adopt a wider variety of less expensive on-premise and cloud-basedapplications. Moreover, the use of best-of-breed solutions provides more flexibilityand lower overall costs over the long term.©2012 Osterman Research, Inc. 1
  3. 3. Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor SolutionsWHY UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS?The term “unified communications” is what its name implies – a set of communicationtools that are assembled into a single interface and integrated into a singlemanagement system. Unified communications includes a variety of communicationsand collaboration tools: email, calendaring and scheduling, voice/telephony and real-time communications capabilities that are presented to a user through a thick clientand/or a browser-based interface. Other functions that may be included in a unifiedcommunications system include text messaging/SMS capabilities, fax services,mobility services and Web conferencing. Many unified communications systems alsointegrate security capabilities like intrusion prevention, anti-spam services and anti-virus capabilities. CASE STUDYCOMMUNICATION SILOES LIMIT EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITYIn a conventional communications system in the typical workplace each computer The City ofuser normally has: Westerville, Ohio• An email client that includes calendaring and scheduling (usually Microsoft migrated to Google Outlook) Apps and needed a• Customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage and new phone system communicate with customers and prospects that would provide• A desktop telephone• An instant messaging client full unified• A mobile phone that, among other things, offers text messaging/SMS services communications• Availability of a departmental fax machine services within Google Apps. TheNON-UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS CREATES PROBLEMS city selected a MitelThis configuration of separate communications tools and interfaces works reasonablywell while the user is in the office, but there are some significant limitations. For phone system thatexample, email messages are accessed in an email client on the computer, calls are was SIP integratedmade and voicemail messages are accessed through the telephone, and instant to the Esnatechmessaging conversations are conducted in a separate client. When faxes are sent orreceived, users must walk to the fax machine and process individual pieces of paper. UC&C applicationHowever, when users need to work remotely, their desktop telephone cannot be server. Thisused, and faxes are largely inaccessible without the assistance of someone else in the extended Miteloffice who can re-send or read the faxed information. The only communication mode dialing, presencethat works more or less like that of the in-office experience is email, normallyaccessed through a Webmail interface. and messaging services directly intoAlthough this conventional and widely used approach to communications allows users Gmail and Googleto be productive to a point, consider the benefits of a unified communications Apps, enablingsystem: employees to access• Users can send or receive email, make calls, access voicemail, conduct instant voice and fax messaging conversations, and send or receive faxes from a single interface. messages from Moreover, data can be shared digitally between all of these communication modes. Gmail and initiate calls off the Mitel• All of these capabilities are accessible on any platform, regardless of location – a phone system desktop computer, a laptop or a mobile device – and also using a thick client or a directly from Google Web browser. Apps.UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS MAKES PEOPLE ANDCOMPANIES MORE EFFICIENTObviously, the unified communications scenario is preferable for users who need towork more efficiently, particularly when traveling or when they must work fromhome. However, such a unified communications system is also preferable for the ITand telephony groups in a company because they are not managing individualcommunication silos, but instead are managing a single, integrated system. This©2012 Osterman Research, Inc. 2
  4. 4. Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor Solutionsresults in synergies that would not be possible in a conventional communicationsscenario.Organizations that deploy unified communications systems also benefit in severalother important ways:• Users with access to all of their communication tools from a single interface can THE “HOTELING” be just as productive when on the road or when working from home (e.g., during periods of inclement weather) as when they are in the office. This gives CONCEPT decision makers the flexibility to allow their employees to work from anywhere, If a 500-employee resulting in an enhanced user experience and potentially greater retention of employees. company has a teleworking plan, it• From a more strategic perspective, however, because employees who have can reduce its office access to all of their communication modes from a single interface can be highly productive, this allows organizations to operate with much less office space than space by 20% if would otherwise be required if an office or cubicle must be made available for each employee every employee. Osterman Research estimates that the typical organization can works at home just save $600 per employee per year in just facilities costs when employees can one day per week. work from home just one day per week – the “hoteling” concept used by many companies, including Boeing and IBM. This reduces office space by an averageTOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP CAN BE DRAMATICALLY LOWER of 150 square feetWITH AN OPEN SOLUTION per teleworkerMore important, however, are the costs associated with the particular unified (cubicle, commoncommunications solutions that will be deployed. For example, an organization of5,000 users that deploys a combination of on-premise Microsoft Exchange and space, etc.).Microsoft Lync will spend roughly $4.8 million for basic unified communicationsfunctionality, but could spend up to $9.5 million for a fully configured system that If office space is $20includes compliance-focused archiving, Lync Online Voice and voicemail. This per square foot pertranslates to a per user cost, assuming a three-year lifecycle, of $27 to $53 permonth. year (typical cost in an urban area), theHowever, using an open approach – such as Google Apps in combination with cost savings areEsnatech solutions – the annual cost would be $65 to $120 per year, or $5.40 to $600 per employee:$10.00 per user per month. Without telework:TAKING A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO Space for 500 employees x 150sfUNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS each x $20/sf = $1.5Once the decision has been made to adopt unified communications and to realize the millioncost and efficiency benefits that it can provide, the next decision comes down to whattype of unified communications system should be deployed. While there are anumber of unified communications vendors offering a variety of solutions, the With telework:decision really comes down to whether a single vendor or open approach should be Space for 400followed. employees x 150sf each x $20/sfUSE OF A SINGLE VENDOR APPROACHThe use of a single vendor unified communications system does offer some = $1.2 millionadvantages. For example, Lync – Microsoft’s unified communications platform –integrates instant messaging, voice, audio, video and Web conferencing services via a Savings:single interface. Lync also integrates presence management so that ad hoc voice $300,000 or $600calls and video meetings can be initiated quickly between team members and otherson Lync. Lync integrates with non-Microsoft services as well, such as AOL Instant per employeeMessenger and Yahoo! Messenger. ($300,000 ÷ 500 employees = $600)Although Lync provides solid functionality, perhaps its most important benefit is thatit comes from a leading vendor. Given Microsoft’s position in the communications,©2012 Osterman Research, Inc. 3
  5. 5. Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor Solutionsapplications and server markets, the decision to implement Microsoft’s single vendortechnology approach can be easily defended.However, the disadvantage of using any single vendor technology, particularly for acritical infrastructure backbone like unified communications, is that it providesminimal interoperability with solutions from other vendors. Whether for corporatepolitics or other reasons, quite often a single vendor technology simply will notinteroperate with leading competitive solutions, thereby limiting the utility of thetechnology to a reasonably small subset of the user environment. Also, many singlevendor solutions like Lync require significant investments to deploy and manage.They do not allow full value to be extracted from existing solutions because of the“rip-and-replace” nature of their deployment and they permit less organizationalflexibility than most organizations prefer.USING A BEST-OF-BREED APPROACHUsing an open approach to unified communications, on the other hand, providesmore flexibility because adopters are not wedded to a single vendor approach. Otherimportant advantages of an open approach to unified communications include: Open solutions are better suited to help• As with many leading, single vendor solutions, an open unified communications technology can provide the same high level of robust functionality. organizations realize the full value• There are several vendors in the space that have a long track record in providing from their existing cloud services, presence and interoperability – vendors that have expertise and experience in offering highly scalable and efficient unified communications hardware and platforms. software deployments.• Open approaches are consistently less expensive than single vendor solutions Because the right and offer much lower total cost of ownership initially and over the long term. open solutions can• For example, when the vendor of a single vendor solution is selected to provide be integrated into unified communications or other functionality, the customer is more or less existing infra- locked in to that vendor and the associated third-party ecosystem unless they structure, this opt to undergo an expensive rip-and-replace exercise to switch to another vendor. However, when an open vendor is used, this provides “forward further drives down flexibility” that enables switching to another vendor’s underlying technology the total cost of without a complete rip-and-replace. This offers decision makers a somewhat ownership because safer decision, a less costly migration path, and the ability to change vendor of the extended life direction much more easily. of existing systems.• Open solutions are better suited to help organizations realize the full value from their existing hardware and software deployments. Because the right open solutions can be integrated into existing infrastructure, this further drives down the total cost of ownership because of the extended life of existing systems.• The net result is much greater organizational flexibility because of the wider interoperability of open solutions and the longer life of the existing infrastructure.PRICING COMPARISONA comparison of the costs of Microsoft Lync with Google Apps/Esnatech will varybased on the size of the organization, the specific features to be deployed and otherfactors. However, a review of the following table demonstrates the dramaticallylower cost of ownership when using a combination of Google Apps and EsnatechUnified Communications for Google™ Apps compared to Microsoft Exchange incombination with Microsoft Lync or Microsoft Office 365 in combination with MicrosoftLync or Microsoft Lync Online.Just using these rough comparisons, a 1,000-user organization will save $246 peruser, per year using a combination of Google Apps and Esnatech UnifiedCommunications for Google™ Apps compared to on-premise offerings from Microsoft;©2012 Osterman Research, Inc. 4
  6. 6. Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor Solutionssavings will be lower when comparing Office 365 to Google Apps/Esnatech, but arestill substantial at $150 per user per year. It is important to note that there are othercost savings, as well, including:• Avoiding the cost of replacing a PBX by extending its life until it needs to be replaced instead of replacing it prematurely.• Avoidance of rip-and-replace costs in mixed environments.• Power costs, which can total several thousand dollars per year in larger environments.• No need to purchase mobile phones for users because of the ability of Google Apps/Esnatech to interoperate with any mobile OS.Three-Year Cost Comparison of On-Premise Microsoft Exchange/Lync vs. Esnatech/Google AppsAnnual Costs per User Google Apps/ Exchange Microsoft Esnatech Server (Dell PowerEdge T510) $9,512 - Three-year 24x7 support, four-hour response $8,796 - AV/AS appliance (Barracuda Spam & Virus $4,397 - Firewall 200) Exchange Server software $15,996 - Exchange Client access licenses, 1,000 $67,000 - Exchange software maintenance for 1,000 clients $105,000 - Windows Server 2008 $14,796 - Exchange Server OS software client access $38,951 - licenses or equivalent Outlook, 1,000 $100,000 - Google Apps - $150,000 Google Apps/ Lync Microsoft Esnatech Server (Dell PowerEdge T510) $9,512 - Three-year 24x7 support, four-hour response $8,796 - Lync Server Software $3,999 - Lync Instant Messaging and Presence $138,000 - Lync software maintenance for 1,000 clients $69,397 - Unified Communications for Google™ Apps - $210,000 Google Apps/ Labor Microsoft Esnatech IT admin cost (Year 1) $160,000 - IT admin cost (Year 2) $168,000 - IT admin cost (Year 3) $176,400 - TOTAL $1,098,552 $360,000 TOTAL PER USER PER YEAR $366 $120 Note: 2.0 FTE IT admins required to support the Microsoft environment Source: Osterman Research estimates and published data©2012 Osterman Research, Inc. 5
  7. 7. Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor SolutionsBasic Pricing Comparison of Microsoft Office 365/Lync vs. Esnatech/Google AppsAnnual Costs per User Google Google Apps/ Apps/ Function Microsoft Esnatech Microsoft Esnatech Email, word processing, Microsoft Office Google Apps $168 $50 spreadsheet, 365 Plan E2 presentations Unified Unified communications Microsoft Lync Communications $66 $70 (mobility, speech and Online Plan 2 for Google™ presence services) Apps TOTAL PER USER PER YEAR $234 $120 CASE STUDYAnother consideration when comparing the cost of competing on-premise solutions is Township Highthe complexity of the architecture required to support unified communications. While School District 214Microsoft’s unified communications solutions offer robust functionality, they require in Illinois migratedthe use of multiple servers to perform the various roles associated with unifiedmessaging, fax services, speech services and other critical roles. Moreover, the cost to Google Apps inof the Microsoft stack is relatively expensive compared to other solutions, particularly 2009. They neededfor video functionality. Some solutions, such as Esnatech’s, can satisfy these roles a UC solution thatusing a much less complex, single-server approach. In fact, a hybrid approach that would improve theallows enterprises to connect to third-party applications can provide additionalbenefits and potential cost savings. While Lync integrates with a variety of third- current system inparty applications, services and systems, it may not satisfy all of an organization’s place, but maintainintegration requirements. the functionality that was alreadyTHE IMPORTANCE OF INNOVATIONAnother important issue to consider is not only the current offerings from a particular available. Esnatechprovider or the cost of obtaining these solutions, but also the innovation that a Office-LinXprovider can offer that will add value over time. For example, in the context of seamlesslyunified communications, Google offers Hangouts, a video conferencing service that connected theirenables up to nine people to participate in a group video session. Google+ is arapidly growing social network that provides a number of innovative features like phone system togrouping particular users into “circles”, or affinity groups with whom users can share Google Apps andonly certain types of information. Google is one of the top two mobile platform provided the staffproviders and continues to provide innovative solutions to integrate unified with single inboxcommunications and other technologies into the mobile experience. access to all voiceEsnatech is working closely with Google to enable new and innovative applications and email messages,that will expand the envelope of unified communications. For example, Esnatech presencefederates live phone status and federates presence into the Google cloud which, in information sharedturn, can feed into any new Google applications. This enables Gmail to become a fullcollaboration interface using a completely Web-based set of applications. across Google Talk and Calendar and fixed-to-mobileSUMMARY convergence.Unified communications offers any organization a wide range of benefits, not least ofwhich is the ability to enable telework and other remote work more effectively byproviding users with a consistent interface to all of their communication andcollaboration functions. However, there are various ways of deploying unifiedcommunications, using single vendor approaches or those that are based on opensystems. The latter, while providing more flexibility in how systems are deployed, isalso significantly less expensive than single vendor solutions. While the combinationof Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Lync, and other single-vendor solutions, offerrobust functionality, the single vendor approach is much more expensive than a©2012 Osterman Research, Inc. 6
  8. 8. Taking a Strategic Approach to Unified Communications: Best of Breed vs. Single Vendor Solutionsmulti-vendor, open approach such as the combination of Google Apps and EsnatechUnified Communications for Google™ Apps.ABOUT ESNATECHEsnatech is a global leader in cloud-enabled Integrated Unified Communicationsolutions. The award-winning Office-LinX™ platform integrates cloud, mobile andsocial communications with traditional voice and messaging to give informationworkers the freedom to choose how, when and where they communicate. No costlyhardware upgrades, no new learning curve —just simple and easy access tocommunicate and collaborate.For more information, please visit www.esnatech.com.© 2012 Osterman Research, Inc. All rights reserved.No part of this document may be reproduced in any form by any means, nor may it bedistributed without the permission of Osterman Research, Inc., nor may it be resold ordistributed by any entity other than Osterman Research, Inc., without prior written authorizationof Osterman Research, Inc.Osterman Research, Inc. does not provide legal advice. Nothing in this document constituteslegal advice, nor shall this document or any software product or other offering referenced hereinserve as a substitute for the reader’s compliance with any laws (including but not limited to anyact, statue, regulation, rule, directive, administrative order, executive order, etc. (collectively,“Laws”)) referenced in this document. If necessary, the reader should consult with competentlegal counsel regarding any Laws referenced herein. Osterman Research, Inc. makes norepresentation or warranty regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information containedin this document.THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. ALL EXPRESS ORIMPLIED REPRESENTATIONS, CONDITIONS AND WARRANTIES, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIEDWARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AREDISCLAIMED, EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH DISCLAIMERS ARE DETERMINED TO BEILLEGAL.©2012 Osterman Research, Inc. 7