Lync VS the legacy PBX vendors – My take on the Cisco and Avaya blogs from last week! #Lync #Lyncconf13 #UCOMS #Cisco #Avaya

After a week of a great first and long sold-out Lync Conference, both Cisco and Avaya have tried to move out from the dust and shadows and are now trying to attack Microsoft Lync in a series of blog posts (or at least Cisco stated that they would publish a series of them)

After reading through them and some of the other tech journalists analysis of them I think that both Avaya and Cisco is starting to feel the heat now and are simply scared of being seen as legacy pbx vendors. And they show this by spreading FUD.

This post will try to answer the shortcomings that they stated that Lync supposedly have, from a technical point of view.

So what did they actually say? Let’s start with Cisco´s posts that can be found here and here and by digesting it point by point (or at least the interesting points that I can answer) and then look at how it really is!

Cisco statement:

Not all collaboration solutions are designed to help people engage the way they want to engage, and they’re also not architected from the ground up to cater to IT’s needs and requirements.

Answer: Let’s talk about design, modern devices are built to handle multi-touch, pens, mouse and keyboard. Lync 2013 is the only client I have seen so far that actually takes this into consideration on a PC (disclaimer: I do also consider an Apple Mac a PC, however being the closed manufacturer of so called “post-pc” devices that Apple really is, we can of course only use a mouse and a keyboard to control Lync on a Mac so far.)
When it comes to UI design, if that’s what they meant, I as a nonprogrammer can actually install Visual Studio and design my own UI for Lync in like 10 minutes and basically create a new client that better fit my needs if I actually would have any special considerations with the UI design.

When it comes to IT´s needs, and I smiled when I read this line, personally I’m an IT guy, specifically a Microsoft IT guy so I’m biased, but in my training session I meet aloooot of both IT guys and “telephony guys”. The common thing is that they both think that Lync is simple to manage, even simpler if they learn PowerShell.
When it comes to troubleshooting the telephony guys is always amazed by how easy it is to find information on Lync and how open the community is with sharing.
I guess they are used of calling the telephony service provider for everything, even when it comes to changing an extension on a user. (and getting billed for it)
With Lync they’ll do it from a simple web GUI. Or if they want to change 100 000 users they could do a get-csuser | set-csuser command in PowerShell and with one line they have changed something by themself that would have cost them hours or days in consultancy fees on their legacy system.

image

 

Cisco statement:

Customers tell us time and again that a modern collaboration platform needs to deliver more than the basics like IM, conferencing and VoIP.  It needs to offer flexibility and choice in support of trends such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), high-quality video, and cloud-based deployments (private, public, hybrid, and hosted).

Answer: First, why did they left out video from that first statement and then making it sound like Lync don’t have it but Cisco does???

With Lync 2013 you get cheap HD desktop video up to 1080p from a wide range of partners that sells web cams, without the need of expensive hardware investments from a single vendor, but they might mean room systems?
Well one of the things that got announced at the Lync Conference was just that.
Lync Room Systems from partners like Crestron, LifeSize, Polycom and SMART.

clip_image002

This slide is from the session where they introduced the Lync Room Systems and did the first public demos.

clip_image004

The one advantage that Lync has over legacy video conferencing systems is the ease of sharing content and to collaborate with content, it´s just Lync, one click sharing inside the meeting with no need to install and start a separate application.
I have even seen people printing a document and then holding it in front of the camera so that the people on the other end could see the same page because they didn’t know how to share the information. (no not in the 90s, like 6 months ago)

Now, let’s talk about BYOD, in this context I guess this means that the UC solution of choice should support all the popular devices that the employees use, at the Lync Conference Microsoft showed of Lync Mobile on iOS, Android & Windows Phone, in the demo they did a video call over 3g and showed meeting content on an iPad. Also there was a demo where one of the attendees was on a mac using only the browser, with full fidelity in the meeting.
In other words, Lync actually supports the three largest mobile platforms as well as the most commonly used browsers on “post-pc” devices running OSX and Windows (Mac & PC)

The last thing in that statement was regarding the cloud, with Lync you have the flexibility to choose your deployment model, either on-prem, hybrid or cloud, where cloud can be a private cloud, partner cloud or public cloud. Depending on requirements and design, you can build it so that the users have the full future set.
However, only Office 365 / Lync Online should NOT be seen as a legacy PBX replacement today, but with a hybrid setup you could build it to be that if you choose.
But I do give Cisco one point here for now.

 

Cisco statement:

The modern collaboration platform needs to be usable not just by office workers but by anyone, from physicians to customer care agents, executives, mobile and desk-less workers. And it needs to be as complete of a solution as possible — including the underlying infrastructure, a wide choice of compatible endpoints, and world-class support and maintenance — to maximize business and IT value.

Answer: Lync works from most devices and you can invite a partner/customer to join a meeting with one click. External users joins from the browser and there is a small 7.5mb user level plugin that needs to be run for the two way voice and video to work in the browser.
But when you have that plugin running, it’s impossible to notice any difference from the full Lync client from a meeting perspective.

Lync also has one of the largest echo system when it comes to compatible devices. There are all sorts of certified device partners. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/gg278164

Support, well I guess that most of you knows how to find the event viewer, its windows and half of the skills needed to support Lync is to know Windows and there must be a lot more people that know Windows than there is that knows Cisco?
Supporting Lync does not have to be so much different from supporting Exchange or SQL, you start with some basic Windows Server knowledge, you know how to find the event viewer and the performance monitor. Then there are the Lync specific tools. (By the way, I happen to run a training class, if you in fact really want to learn some more of Lync Server. Check out: www.lynclab.org – just saying :)

 

Cisco Statement:

We believe that a solution that’s primarily been developed for a desktop PC user experience is less able to meet these wider post-PC requirements than one that has been designed and optimized for them from the outset.

Answer: Now this is funny, if Cisco had tried the current mobile clients for Lync they would have known that the iOS client are a bit better than the current Windows Phone client, from reading some other posts it got clear to me that Cisco refers to this statement from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: “We always want Skype to be first and best on Windows.” But the thing is that Steve Ballmer and Microsoft have long used that saying, and it originally was: ”First and best on Windows and best in breed on every other devices.” So I think it’s more that Cisco is starting to feel the heat on that last part…

 

Cisco statement:

For instance, Microsoft’s approach with Lync leaves out several important collaboration elements many enterprise organizations find critical today — such as phones, video endpoints, voice and video gateways, networking and cloud PSTN connections. These components need to be procured, integrated and supported separately for those who choose to use Lync.

Answer: I’m confused, first they said “And it needs to be as complete of a solution as possible — including the underlying infrastructure, a wide choice of compatible endpoints”  and now they say that phones are missing?
When I read this I’m starting to think about where Cisco makes its money from?
Well they are mostly known to me as a networking company, then a legacy pbx vendor and after they acquired Tandberg they do now also sell video (ok they did that before Tandberg) But the thing is that all of the above is the things that Cisco makes a lot of money from.
Microsoft is taking another approach where they have partners that manufactures the phones, video in Lync is pretty cheap compared to Cisco and there is no need for a separate expensive video gateways when its software based but you can buy a Lync Room System as the endpoint, Lync is developed to run well on broken and uncontrolled networks like the internet. (not saying that you don’t need to care about the network)
So what I’m thinking here is, YES Lync is in a way really missing some of those features,  but that’s the whole point of Lync in a way.
But why do they list them?
Is it really that much harder to support a Polycom CX600 than a Cisco phone?
When it’s broken you’ll send it to the one you bought it from anyway so in my opinion it’s about the same!

My conclusion of Cisco´s posts are simply that they are really starting to feel the heat from Microsoft, where more and more of Cisco´s customers have already deployed Lync for some parts like IM/P. And now they are starting to consider it for voice and video as well, and that is one of Cisco´s main business and its going to hurt for them when the customers starting to realize that Cisco actually is not really needed.

 

Now some finishing lines on that Avaya post, which can be found here

The whole post is about a research report that Nemertes Research did that concluded in how expensive Lync is compared to Avaya?

They found “facts” that Lync would be costlier to support because of IT will probably need to troubleshoot Quality Of Service and then they did a comparison of the bandwidth requirements between a lot of video conferencing systems and somehow put a price tag on that.

My conclusion of this is: If you find Lync expensive, please give me a call!!!!!

..

….

….

..

It feels like waiting for that girl that was supposed to call when I was 15…