The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications was officially unveiled this month for 2017, leaving many of the leading companies in the sector wondering whether they’d managed to make the cut. If you’re new to the Magic Quadrant, it’s simply an assessment by an analysis company, Gartner, based on evaluating UC companies according to their “completeness of vision”, and “ability to execute” new ideas.
Though the Gartner Magic Quadrant is often considered to be a key indicator of the potential of companies in the UC space, it’s also worth noting that it’s a highly restrictive evaluation, that distils a huge industry into a consideration of 9 key vendors. Here, we’ll be looking at the players in Gartner’s UC magic quadrant, and asking whether the MQ really offers a complete view of the unified Comms market.
The Gartner UC Magic Quadrant
The Gartner Magic Quadrant works to separate 9 industry vendors from the Unified Communications sector, into four distinct categories. These are:
- Leaders: Vendors that provide a full UC offering and powerful market presence. Leaders can show their success in the UC field, and deliver exceptional services to a broad range of enterprises
- Challengers: Vendors that provide solutions that represent the ability to move into a leadership position, but may be lacking in various critical areas. Most challengers have strong solutions to offer but are lacking in market presence
- Visionaries: Vendors that offer a different and strong approach to one or multiple core areas in unified communications. These vendors might have a limited ability to execute new ideas across all markets, which make it hard for them to enter the “leader” segment
- Niche Players: Vendors that offer solutions particularly powerful in some UC areas, or have solutions with limited market reach
The leaders for this year’s UC Magic Quadrant were:
- Cisco: Based in California, Cisco is known for offering a comprehensive range of UC solutions designed to span across cloud, on-premise, and hybrid options. Cisco also offers UCM for large enterprises with up to 80,000 users, helping to organise, simplify, and manage large, distributed workforces. Cisco also provides UCM as part of its cloud-based service portfolio, complemented by WebEx. For collaboration, Cisco offers its UCaaS creation, “Cisco Spark“
- Microsoft: A global company based in Washington, Microsoft offers a holistic view into UC under the Skype for Business The on-premise solution is the Skype for Business Server, while the cloud UC solution comes in the form of Skype for Business (SfB) online. The Skype for Business offering has proven itself to be an IP PBX replacement for a range of organisations. Microsoft continues to enhance the SfB portfolio today, forging new partnerships with companies like Creston, Logitech, and Polycom
- Mitel: A publicly-traded global company based in Ottawa, Canada, Mitel offers UC through its “MiCollab” UC Suite, which aligns with a range of unique meeting solutions through its MiVoice telephony platforms. MiTeam features collaboration services for chat, document sharing, and group meetings. Mitel has a powerful presence within the virtualisation space and offers a range of unique delivery approaches for UC, combined with a significant base of new solutions deployed across virtual systems
The challengers in the UC Magic Quadrant for 2017 are:
- Huawei: A privately-owned company based in China, Huawei provides its customers with a wide range of communication services and products. For instance, the Huawei “eSpace” solution for Unified Communications supports presence, telephony, messaging, video collaboration, and more. The Huawei UC architecture is based on a virtualised platform called the “Unified Session Manager”, which allows the eSpace solution to run on a range of servers. Over the last year, Huawei has introduced public and private cloud deployment to the market, using the Unified Session Manager platform. The brand has also introduced a soft multipoint control unit to serve enterprises in search of scalable and flexible services
- NEC: Based in Tokyo, Japan, NEC is a worldwide provider of communication and IT services. Its aim is to “empower the smart enterprise” with a versatile range of services and products. Today, NEC offers two UC options: Univerge SV9500, and Univerge 3C (U3C). The U3C solution provides a fully-integrated UC suite, based on service-oriented and web-oriented architecture and open standards, along with enterprise scalability, centralised administration, and security. The Univerge SV9500 has similar capabilities, with strengths in the world of hybrid time division multiplexing and IP
The visionaries for the UC Magic Quadrant in 2017 are:
- Avaya: A privately held company in Santa Clara, California, Avaya is owned by private equity firms Silver Lake and TPG. Though Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2017, it still offers an exceptional solution for unified communications. Avaya’s lead UC product is the Aura platform, which includes a Session Manager, Communication Manager, Presence services, and System Manager, as well as a range of Aura applications. Avaya Breeze and the Avaya Breeze Client SDK are the primary Avaya development platforms. Additionally, Zang Spaces provides workstream collaboration services
- Unify: A subsidiary of Atos, a system integration, and outsourcing company, Unify is based in Munich, Germany, and offers the “Unify OpenScape” portfolio. This UC solution comes with a fully integrated suite of functionality solutions offered in three separate configurations, including OpenScape Enterprise for large organisations, OpenScape Enterprise Express for organisations with up to 5,000 users, and OpenScape Business for smaller companies. Unify OpenScape Fusion integration also allows for OpenScape to be embedded within other environments, including those offered by IBM, Microsoft, Google, and more
UC Niche Players
The niche players for the UC Magic Quadrant 2017 are:
- ALE: Based in Paris, ALE operate under the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise brand. ALE’s “OpenTouch suite” is its flagship solution for UC, available through the ALE partner network. The OTS provides a fully integrated and unified solution for UC that scales for up to 15,000 endpoints and 5,000 users. Over those limits, components can be deployed separately and as a single logical service for up to 20,000 users. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Rainbow is a cloud-based service offered by ALE, incorporating workstream collaboration services including presence, video, and voice conversation
- ShoreTel: A publicly-traded company based in California, within the United States, ShoreTel competes in the UC market with “ShoreTel Connect“, a service with a consistent user interface across three distinct versions. Connect is available as a premises-based solution in Connect Onsite, a hybrid solution in Connect Hybrid, and a cloud solution in Connect Cloud. ShoreTel connect offers the UC services that most companies need, featuring telephony, peer-to-peer video, audio/video conferencing, and collaboration
Is the Magic Quadrant Really Fair?
If the Magic Quadrant seems a little restricted from your perspective – that’s because it may well be too limiting for the UC sector. The Magic Quadrant is designed by big enterprises, for big enterprises, which means that if you’re looking for a comprehensive market assessment, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
In fact, the Quadrant’s approach to analysis is so controversial, that it has prompted numerous lawsuits, including a recent challenge by NetScout. According to NetScout, the Gartner report is not unbiased, objective, or independent. Instead, the Magic Quadrant features a pay-to-play business model that fails to consider those who don’t buy their way in.
We’ve questioned the nature of the Magic Quadrant in the past here at UC Today, as it’s hard to know whether the opinion of a company focused on boosting enterprise clients can be entirely trusted. In our opinion, there may be a need for deeper research when it comes to evaluating the top vendors of the day. What do you think?
Share your feelings and thoughts with us below and vote for your 2017 favourite vendor here:
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