Cisco Blogs

Survey Reveals Key Considerations in Collaboration and It’s Not First and Best on Windows

February 18, 2013 - 15 Comments

Every day I hear from customers who want to make collaboration more pervasive across their organizations. How do they take advantage of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)? Does it make sense to move some solutions to the cloud? What about video?

Those are all good questions, but as my colleague Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, said today, this is just the beginning. Cisco commissioned a global survey of 3,320 IT leaders from nine countries (U.S., Canada, U.K., Sweden, Germany, India, Russia, New Zealand and Australia) to find out what’s really top of mind for them. The survey, conducted by Redshift Research, revealed some interesting observations, not only about what matters to IT leaders, but about the differences between Cisco’s and Microsoft’s approach to collaboration. Here are some of the top findings:


Nearly three out of four say Microsoft’s “First and Best on Windows” strategy will have at least some negative impact on the survey respondent’s business.

As some of you may know, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer was quoted as saying that Skype will always be “first and best on Windows,” and then he acknowledged that cross-platform is good too. But, we’d argue that it needs to be the other way around. And we feel that the survey data clearly supports this as well. A resounding 72% of survey respondents said Microsoft’s “Windows first” strategy will have at least some negative impact on their business — since it is BYOD that’s here to stay, not BYOWD (Bring Your Own Windows Device). Our own statistics highlight why being device and operating system agnostic is crucial. The latest numbers we’ve recorded show there have been 3.7 million downloads of the Cisco WebEx Meetings mobile app for smartphones and tablets. We’ve seen 72% year-over-year growth in application downloads on Apple devices and 248% year-over-year growth for Android devices. While a BYOWD world might be good for Microsoft, IT leaders know that it’s not good for business.


An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents expect to get voice and video from the cloud with features and quality on par with what’s offered on premises.

This is a pretty significant change from what we saw in the market just a few short years ago, when expectations of real-time communications from the cloud were far short of those expected on premises. These days, customers not only want a consistent experience, but feature parity between cloud and on premises solutions. At Cisco, we get that. We’ve made it our business to bring Cisco Unified Communications Manager to the cloud with our Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) offering. HCS gives cloud service providers the ability to offer the same capabilities and user experiences in the cloud as we offer on premise with no compromises. Telecom service providers and partners globally are taking notice, with 40 signed to date. Microsoft is playing catch-up in both areas; they do not have a strong global telecom provider network in place, and, as you’ll see in the next set of results, there are concerns with quality and reliability.

Voice and Video Quality and Reliability

A significant number of those who have deployed Lync do not use it for business-critical external communications, and an even higher percentage maintain a proven communications system for their most important communications.

Nearly half (47%) of the IT leaders who said they have deployed Microsoft Lync in their organization indicated they do not use it for business-critical external communications, and nearly eight in 10 (77%) say they maintain a separate proven communications system since it is “important for users and calls requiring high quality/reliability.” When it comes to business-critical collaboration — a contact center agent talking to a customer, executive discussions or an earnings call — communications must go off without a hitch. Smart customers know that they have to be able to provide a collaboration solution for all employees and not just those that sit at a Windows PC all day — something Cisco does day in and day out.


Nearly four out of five IT leaders say that not having a single point of accountability for the whole UC solution negatively impacts business.

Whether it’s phones, gateways, contact centers or video endpoints — IT leaders want a single point of accountability for today’s UC environment. Eighty seven percent said that they want a single point of accountability, and 78% said that without one, time is wasted, productivity falls or revenue can be lost. Cisco believes customers should seek vendors who can provide that single point of accountability. From our vantage point, Microsoft’s multi-vendor approach involves a patch quilt of vendors, and finding out “who’s on first?” when support is needed can be like finding a needle in a haystack. This can result in increased costs and reduced productivity for customers as they try to figure out how to troubleshoot and resolve problems across many different technology vendors.

It’s clear that cloud, mobility, voice and video are all key market drivers in collaboration.  However, as IT managers consider collaboration vendors and solutions, we think it’s critical these requirements garner even more attention in the decision-making process. Collaboration is too important to an organization’s business to sacrifice any of these success factors.

To learn more about these considerations, check out the wealth of information on our microsite.


In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Carl –
    Appreciate the information and in dealing with my own customers – I can attest to many of these findings. Question though – as a customer looks to outsource or move applications to the Cloud – do they care of the complexity on the back end or do they just care about the SLA agreed upon when entering the service? I would argue the later and that is a bit different than an Enterprise deploying a service in which complexity drives the costs up significantly. So while Cisco has a well defined and more end to end solution for Unified Communications – as customers look to outsource – will they care? In the Government space – Cisco really needs to invest in Partners to deliver FISMA UC Clouds – there is a demand and it will be growing.

    • Greg,

      Thanks for your comment. Good question. I think there are several factors someone has to consider, beyond SLA. Consider these:

      – First, the cost of the SLA is directly related to the complexity of the solution the provider needs to integrate at their datacenter to supply the required services. So if your selected cloud provider does not have an open platform that has been tested and verified for all the services you as a customer need, it will affect the cost of the provider for the solution, and that additional cost will be reflected in the price provided to you. If you are looking for a price competitive solution to buy, you should work with a partner that has a cost effective solution to operate, is that simple.

      – Second, the level of availability provided by the SLA is also dependent on the level of availability of the platform that the cloud provider is hosting. As a manufacturer of carrier-grade solutions Cisco has experience on delivering highly available and survivable solutions on the entire cloud architecture, from the datacenter to the network and of course the collaboration applications and services. Nobody else in the market can offer this end to end architecture. For critical workloads such as voice and video our customers require availability levels way beyond what typical document-based solutions offer. So in short, if the platform of the cloud provider is not really carrier grade, and the cloud provider has a fragmented solution from several different vendors with different reliability levels for their components, you can’t ask them to deliver the solution level of availability you have on premises today. Are you willing to sacrifice availability for simplicity?

      – Third, most customers likely will find they need a combination of on-premises and cloud solutions based on unique needs across their organizations. So they should consider the inherent complexity of being able to choose which workloads and capabilities are better delivered from the cloud, and which ones it is best to keep delivering on premises… without disturbing the user experience. That is not easy. For highly regulated verticals such as Government, Finance and others, hybrid solutions are not an option, they are a mandate. Having a platform that allows the deployment of a hybrid approach without altering the way the users work is not a minor consideration, and if you work in an environment where multiple types of devices, operating systems, locations and user environments are mixed, your need to consider what platform the cloud provider is offering and test if what you need is what that platform can provide.

      With regard to Cisco investing in partners that deliver FISMA UC Clouds, Cisco is working with the largest and most experienced partners in the industry. Our relationship with most of these partners is decades long and during that time we have worked together to deliver NIST compliant solutions to our Government customers in the USA. Since the collaboration solution is actually delivered by a cloud partner to our customers (and not directly by Cisco), I would recommend reaching out to your Cisco account manager or preferred partner to find the Cisco Powered Cloud Provider that can best serve your requirements.


      • Carl,

        Thank you for the detailed thoughts and very valid points related to what is “behind” an SLA.

        Do you have survey results or other data related to:
        – Costs to operate Cisco HCS versus other cloud platforms?
        – Availability statistics of Cisco cloud solution versus other solutions?


  2. AT&T Consulting, Enabling Technologies, BT Global Services, Dimension Data, Aspect Communications, HP Network Services, Via Group, Dell and Verizon Busines are some of the Microsoft Solution Partners that bring a total Lync solution with support of all devices.

  3. Jerry,

    I have seen people screw up both Cisco and Microsoft voice implementations — in each case disappointing the CEO. Similarly I have seen excellent Cisco UC and Microsoft UC implementations.

    Moving to the cloud is a great goal however in order for this to be evaluated you need to transform this from a “wish” to a measurable objective. Why are you looking to move to the cloud and exactly what measurable benefits will equal success? For instance, is moving to the cloud about cost savings? If so, how much do you need to save to prove success. Do you know how much you are currently spending?

    Being a “little worried about” any solution is not sufficient rationale to justify an important and complex decision.

    Many solutions can deliver excellent voice and video quality. The more important questions become …
    a. what does “excellent” quality mean in your organization, and from which locations?
    b. how much is the organization willing to pay for a specific quality level?
    c. Is “good enough” quality or “good enough” SLAs worth saving $?

    In my experience general statements like “voice and video quality are king” do not necessarily stand the scrutiny of the CFO who has to approve the expenditure.

    Make sure you spend your $ in the right area to maximize the return on your investment. I try to outline a methodology to help you decide in this article:


  4. This is a very timely read. We are currently evaluating a Microsoft or Cisco based Unified Communications strategy pertaining to the areas discussed here, all of which are key factors. We were marching down the Lync path since we were an Office Communicator shop before but we had some concerns off the bat. After years of being a Wintel only shop, iOS is everywhere and Lync support for that platform is less than stellar.

    Currently our telecom systems are on-premises but our goal is to move everything we can to the cloud we can for all the obvious reasons and hope to see this being an option in the future. Both Microsoft and Cisco have good cloud options worth exploring but SLA is everything and I’m a little worried about the recent Office 365 availability issues.

    In the end, voice and video quality are king and this is where we feel Cisco may have the advantage. There is nothing like hearing from the CEO when his conference call went south because of static on the line.

  5. Carl,

    What happened to your reply comment. It was there and now it disappeared?


  6. Carl,

    This is a good and valid discussion to have. The survey commissioned by Cisco does shed light on some important and complex areas for consideration.

    I imagine Microsoft and Cisco may choose to interpret the survey results differently; however, if this discussion helps customers better understand and prioritize their business requirements and then match the right solution to these requirements then it is worthwhile.

    In my UC Strategies article “What People Want in Collaboration” I explore the survey results and comment on the Cisco versus Microsoft approaches:


    • Thanks for your comments, Kevin. Interesting to see your thoughts on everything from cloud to video to mobility to support – as you know those are key trends that are top of mind with customers and we appreciate you elevating the discussion in your story.


    • Thanks for the great blog Carl. These are similar to the points I wrote in my NWW blog, the how where and why of Cisco versus Microsoft in UC.

      Evaluators should look at where UC is going (mobile and cloud) instead of where it has been in the past (desktop) and those are two areas where Cisco excels

      • Zeus,

        True people should evaluate UC solutions based on their specific requirements. For many organizations this does mean mobile and cloud.

        Microsoft just demonstrated live the Lync Mobile 2013 client on Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac (in Safari browser) and of course Windows Phone 8 and Windows desktop. All these mobile and desktop clients included IM, presence, voice, video, and desktop sharing.

        Clearly customers should evaluate both Jabber and Lync in the context of mobile.

        Similarly, the Cisco and Microsoft cloud offerings, which both continue to evolve, should be matched with prioritized customer business requirements.

        No one vendor is the right solution for all customers. The innovation from both Cisco and Microsoft is impressive and customers win as a result of this competition.