I saw an article in CRN titled Cisco VoIP VARs Feeling Microsoft Pressure and I found it interesting that Cisco VARs are having to deal with customer doubt regarding selling unified communications solutions.
Imagine this news is coming less than a month after I wrote Microsoft’s Big Unified Communications Launch which discussed Microsoft’s official entry into the space with a Bill Gates cameo appearance in San Francisco.
What amazes me most is that Cisco has shipping products and is such a dominant player and the threat of Microsoft entering the Unified Communications space is slowing down the networking giant’s telecom sales.
One wonders if Cisco VARs are having such problems are the VARs of other PBX players feeling the pain as well? Many of the other players in the market are doing their best to embrace the Microsoft Unified Communications strategy so perhaps this challenge is unique to Cisco and Avaya.
Why do I throw Avaya into the mix? Only because they haven’t tied themselves closely to the Microsoft UC strategy as of yet.
At the last ITEXPO this past September in Los Angles, CA, approximately one in five VARs I spoke with said Microsoft’s entry into the space would change the competitive landscape. Most were not concerned. Of course the event took place about a month before the official Microsoft launch so I will have to wait until January 23-25, 2008 in Miami – at the next ITEXPO to ask them again.
I believe Microsoft’s entry into the communications space may be as revolutionary as when Cisco purchased Dallas-based IP-PBX vendor Selsius back in 1998 to enter the IP-PBX market. The difference is, in the Microsoft model, you still need a separate IP-PBX. The good news for many PBX vendors is that they can coexist with Microsoft for some time to come. At some point in the future this may change but for now there seems to be more opportunity for PBX vendors working with Microsoft and trouble for those who don’t.