Microsoft within the Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service 10-2018


Microsoft is a publicly held IT application and service vendor. Its new UCaaS application is branded as Microsoft Teams, part of Microsoft’s cloud IT Office 365 suite offered globally. For distribution, Microsoft utilizes a mix of direct sales and channel partners.
Microsoft indicates that Teams will replace Microsoft’s Skype for Business Online (SfBO) over time. Microsoft Teams roughly achieved SfBO UC functionality parity in 3Q18, and Teams will start to exceed SfBO UC functionality by 4Q18. Gartner expects Microsoft Teams and SfBO to run in parallel for the next 18 to 24 months, but with new product development focused on Teams. Microsoft has a Positive financial rating based on Gartner’s financial assessment tool.

The Microsoft Teams UCaaS offering is built on a microservices architecture and supports workstream collaboration, presence, voice, video, audio and screen sharing, as well as Teams Broadcast Meetings for up to 10,000 attendees. Basic PBX functionality is provided by Phone System (part of the E5 license), with the new direct-routing capability supporting third-party PBX integration.
Teams is well-suited for customers needing workstream collaboration and conferencing capabilities for informal meeting usage. The Teams voice functionality is at an early stage of maturity, and enterprises should pilot solutions to ensure the performance and functionality can meet their requirements.

Strengths

  • Teams was built from inception to run in the Azure, IaaS, microservices environment. Gartner believes this is a better long-term platform for supporting UCaaS than its SfBO predecessor relative to stability and innovation.
  • Teams continues to gain market momentum and market share across both desktops and mobile devices, in large part because of the success of the broader Office 365 portfolio.
  • Microsoft has an extensive ecosystem of professional service partners, endpoint devices, applications, infrastructure and network services. This is complemented with Microsoft’s own global customer support and FastTrack services.
  • Many organizations incrementally add Teams UCaaS features, starting with workstream collaboration, presence and web-conferencing capabilities, before expanding to audioconferencing, videoconferencing and, eventually, enterprise telephony.

Cautions

  • Clients report that Microsoft’s sales and its channel partners continue to promote users to adopt new SfBO deployments, even though the strategic focus is on Microsoft Teams.
  • The Teams telephony capabilities lag behind competing UCaaS offers in real-time APIs to contact centers and CRM platforms.
  • Customers have encountered changing Microsoft messages about its UCaaS approach, solutions and roadmap. Over the past decade, Microsoft has shifted from Office Communications Server (OCS), to Lync, to SfBO, and now to Teams.
  • Gartner clients report that acquiring Microsoft’s full UCaaS stack (with telephony capabilities) can be complex and more expensive than originally planned. The licensing options can be confusing, and assessing country delivery capabilities and phone (handset) support can be challenging.

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