We continue to evolve the ways we interact and communicate. Still, telephony remains a foundation element of business communications.  Even as we bring technologies into the collaboration mix, telephony is still a default option for many situations. It’s ubiquitous. It provides real-time, personal, human interaction that’s critical to communications with peers, customers, partners.

Given the importance of telephony, we’re always pleased when recognized for having powerful technology products. Continuing a history of recognition that goes back 12  years, Gartner named Cisco a leader in the 2014 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony.  Gartner maps companies in the telephony space according to their “ability to execute” and “completeness of vision.” Cisco lands in the top-right of that grid.

Gartner 2014 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony
Gartner 2014 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony

Our unified communications and telephony products are the most prevalent of our collaboration portfolio. The core of our corporate telephony platform, Unified Communications Manager is often the gateway product (pardon the nerdy pun), that brings companies to Cisco collaboration.

For companies reviewing corporate telephony platforms, Gartner advises a focus on:

  • High-availability, scalable solutions
  • Support for Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
  • Desktop and softphone functionality
  • The ability to integrate with enterprise IT applications
  • Toll-grade voice quality

Gartner’s report provides much deeper detail on corporate telephony overall and how it positions Cisco and other vendors.

Cisco has been a leader Gartner’s Telephony Magic Quadrant since 2002.* Gaining this position is never an easy feat, and maintaining position means that we have to constantly innovate to meet the ever-evolving demands of business. As I look back, I thought I’d share some of the milestones that mark the journey to where we are today.

How We Got Here

Cisco started in IP telephony with toll-bypass solutions in the late 1990s. Cisco TDM Gateways helped enterprises lower costs by using WAN instead of the PSTN for voice traffic between office locations.  Our TDM Gateways now have 85% global market share. (Synergy Research Group, 2014)

Cisco had many firsts in IP telephony. Cisco was the first vendor to:

  • Put XML applications on the phone
  • Integrate in-line power for phones
  • Provide branch telephony survivability
  • Support E911
  • Provide clustering
  • Scale VoIP

We shipped our 1 millionth IP phone in 2002. Today, we’ve shipped more than 70 million IP phones.

Adding QSIG helped drive IP telephony adoption. In 2003, we added QSIG–an ISDN signaling protocol–to Cisco Unified Communications Manager, which improved interoperability with legacy systems. QSIG allowed IT teams to deploy Cisco telephony while maintaining their legacy (TDM) PBXs until they were ready to replace them. Meanwhile, users could access services such as caller ID and message-waiting indicator even when calling between systems. 

Where We Are Now

Interoperability: New capabilities include H.264 SVC support, and RDP interoperability with Microsoft is coming next year.

Analog Solutions: Our portfolio includes a whole suite of analog gateways, called Cisco VG Series Gateways, to connect analog phones, faxes, and other devices to IP telephony networks.

Enterprise Session Border Control: Service providers are shifting their offers from TDM to SIP trunking. Cisco is the market share leader in this category and Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE) is the session border controller of choice for most enterprises today (Infonetics Research 2014)

Cloud Options: Today, you can get the same benefits and capabilities of on-premises Cisco telephony (including UC and collaboration) from the cloud by working with Cisco Powered Cloud Services providers.

A lot has happened over the years. We have expanded our portfolio and integrated telephony into a suite of full collaboration experiences.  And we’ll keep innovating and evolving to develop the collaboration solutions that meet your needs – and beyond.

*Previous Titles include: Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony in North America, Magic Quadrant for North American Telephony, North American Enterprise Telephony Magic Quadrant.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Cisco.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


Thomas McCafferty

No Longer with Cisco