Cisco, Microsoft And UC: Making The Right Choice - InformationWeek

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Clark Buckner
Clark Buckner
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Cisco, Microsoft And UC: Making The Right Choice

Consultant Brent Kelly shares insights into his Interop session on how organizations choose a unified communications system that meets their business needs.

Brent Kelly is the President and Principal Analyst of Kelcor, a boutique analyst and consultant firm that focuses on the unique intersection of communications—voice, video, mobile, social—and how companies can make all of these capabilities work together.

He’s speaking about Microsoft vs. Cisco: Compare, Contrast--or Co-Exist? at this year’s Interop Las Vegas.

I invited Brent Kelly on the show to discuss how to not only choose the right technology for your company, but how to get buy-in from your team to improve implementation and adoption.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

TECHNOLOGYADVICE: What’s the most common dialogue involved with choosing between Cisco or Microsoft for a unified communications effort?

Brent: Well, in my conversations with end user companies, it turns out that there is this interesting dynamic. You have people that love Cisco, and these are articulate and passionate people in the IT group, and they work on Cisco equipment all the time. You also have the people that love the Microsoft environment—they work on the Microsoft back-end solutions.

And so, one group says, “Well, Cisco’s product can’t do this.” And the Cisco guys will say “Yes, but Microsoft product can’t do this or can’t do it well.”

At the end of the day, you really have to make your decision based on what your end users really need. Classify your company, and the types of workers that are in your company, and look at the kinds of communications capabilities that they need.

And regardless of whether you’re going go with Cisco or Microsoft or have a co-existence strategy, or even a completely different solution, that’s one of the first things that needs to happen.

I give some real world examples of what people have done and why they have done it, so that you then, the listener—or the person that attends the session—can go back to your organization and maybe invoke some of the same principles, or some of the same discussion to help you get a strategy to how you should go forward as you think about this dilemma.

TA: When someone comes back from an event like Interop, how can they bring the knowledge back to the company to have an open dialogue about how to choose the technology that best matches their needs—and move together as a whole once they make that decision?

Brent: Well, as I go through the session, I actually give some tools or some techniques. I’ve mentioned the idea of profiling your users, and the second example is a numerical tool that can be available to people if they want it.

I’ve also developed a fairly sophisticated model that looks at these two companies and looks at the number of users and the kind of capabilities that people need based on these profiles, and it will generate a TCO.

One of the things that I think companies need to know and realize—and this is really more of a message for the leadership team—is that you want to go into this without disenfranchising any of the people in your IT department.

You are going to have some very articulate and outspoken people that will root for both of these solutions, and so, there may be ways within your organization to avoid disenfranchising—because sometimes you have to choose.

But, as I’ve said, there’s some ways to think about hybrid types of solutions that can keep both groups happy.

Or if they’re not fully happy, at least they’re not completely dissatisfied, so you don’t end up with people quitting because an executive made one choice over another. And so, I go through all those tools and techniques and ways to approach the problem, so that at least a reasonable solution for a typical end user organization can be arrived at.

To learn more about Kelcor, visit or talk with Brent Kelly in person at Interop Las Vegas.

Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download this interview to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes. You can also subscribe to our Interop interview series on Soundcloud. Looking to maximize your time at Interop? View our 10 Insider Tips for Attending Tech Conferences.

This interview was conducted by Clark Buckner of TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that connects buyers and sellers of business technology through meaningful relationships. See our TechnologyAdvice Guide To CRM for an overview CRM technology and the latest market trends.

Clark Buckner is a content marketer and new media strategist podcasting about technology and entrepreneurship at He enjoys the tech conference scene and discovering innovative ways to create new opportunities from emerging technologies. View Full Bio

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