Can Microsoft Crack Telephony?

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A communications battle is quietly brewing in the UC and collaboration market. In one corner, you have traditional vendors who are gaining a reputation for being too hardware-centric in an increasingly virtualized world. In the other, Microsoft.

Microsoft is battling some negative perceptions about their ability to perform as a telephony alternative. Being the new face on the block means Lync must prove itself by addressing enterprise requirements for reliability and quality. This is no easy task.

At the same time, traditional PBX vendors have to step up their game. This isn't to say they should copy Lync. Rather, they need to focus on playing up the benefits of building their UC and collaboration interfaces on top of their hardware for tighter integration. Having a single vendor for UC and all telephony components simplifies the maintenance and management of communications infrastructure.

This integration is a plus, but some enterprises don't want to be tied down to a single vendor. After all, variety is the spice of life. Current studies estimate that 13% of enterprises are using Lync as a phone replacement. The main draw seems to be Lync's desktop instant messaging and Web conferencing abilities.

But by next year, Microsoft and Cisco are expected to have equal market share in North America, followed by Avaya in second place, according to Nemertes Research. The majority of companies using Lync today already have licenses for lots of Microsoft software, analysts say. 

Microsoft is closing the gap. Enterprises are realizing that Lync is a capable platform, and that by relying on other vendors, Microsoft can offer a reliable user experience that can be customized to the enterprise's needs (both today and tomorrow).

By relying on other vendors, Microsoft can bring similar features that the legacy platforms currently have in place. With third-party add-ons for reporting and recording, Lync becomes a solution capable of managing all communications modes. With a recording add-on, calls, video conferences, and instant messages can be logged, archived, and made searchable.

Not only does this allow Microsoft to crack telephony, but it also provides scalable options for enhanced compliance, as well as increased exposure to critical telecom details. 

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