Microsoft vs. Cisco – Which Platform to Choose?

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When choosing which Unified Communications (UC) solutions your business needs, consideration might be given to what types of analytics might come from your chosen platform. Knowing what business intelligence will assist in your company’s success could also determine the purchase. Both Cisco and Microsoft are leaders in the field for different reasons and have different strengths. When a company is deciding which system to go with it must consider the collaboration and communication needs of its employees, so that the acquisition is based on real usage statistics and not corporate planning alone. Money spent on solutions that go unused is money wasted. For either solution to succeed, it must not only align with the business objectives but place user interactivity into that equation.

Consider the following facets related to adoption when looking at either solution.


Does the platform offer a user experience that the majority in the workplace know? When the end users are already well-versed in the platform and its various collaborative solutions, they will seek out that platform and work together in teams with better productivity. One reason Skype for Business (SfB) took off in the enterprise was because of its familiarity. If users have to be trained in depth on usage of a particular platform, you have to adjust for the learning curve and be prepared for the possibility of rejection of the technology. Usability as a factor, is one of the most important indicators of technology adoption. Which platform to go with could come down to simple end-user preference.

Integration and Interoperability

Best of breed approaches to UC can sometimes work, but more often leave users frustrated by a lack of integration or interoperability between disparate vendor software. Systems that work great in the enterprise may fall apart when mobility is introduced. IT administrators may also face challenges with deploying and managing separate solutions. The tighter the integration, the more seamless the usage between technologies and devices. Lowering complexity lowers the costs of piecing together solutions. Microsoft’s Collaboration suite, Office 365 works as one integrated unit with SfB across multiple venues, from desktop to mobile and offers federation between customers. However, even with cloud PBX, or their softphone, they don’t compete with Cisco for physical endpoints for video or voice.

Cisco has been successful with integrating their video/conferencing client Web Ex, and Jabber IM client with the Cisco voice to achieve results for enterprises with preexisting Cisco architecture. When Cisco infrastructure exists already, it’s simple for IT to integrate newer Cisco into the system. If a company decides to switch to Microsoft or add their solutions, additional integration will need to be performed. Both platforms can excel when the environment is fully one or the other. Mixing the two may present pain points for a company. Which platform is chosen might ultimately be determined by who got their first, or what is most important to collaboration, or perhaps, what can be added or removed painlessly.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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