One of the biggest challenges facing organizations that choose to deploy a collaboration architecture is the inability to select best in class applications. Companies are forced down the path of selecting a single vendor because of the risk and cost of integrating best in class applications from multiple vendors.
Multi-vendor interoperability has remained a challenge for the following reasons:
- Deploying collaboration is typically more complex than traditional telephony systems. Voice-only systems are contained in a single platform, whereas today’s collaboration solutions require many servers, applications, client devices and access methods, so you need to maintain data across multiple hardware systems.
- The set of features in the current Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) that interconnects collaboration applications is relatively small compared to the overall set of possible features. To fill the gaps, collaboration vendors have added features through propriety extensions to the SIP protocol, which means that systems integration is still required across vendors.
- Administrative tasks such as setting up dial plans, creating locations and users, adding services, changing user settings and other maintenance tasks can require the same complex steps to be repeated across multiple systems several times, each with a slightly different process and configuration settings. This increases the chances of error and misconfiguration.
When companies have chosen to integrate multi-vendor collaboration applications (e.g. Microsoft Lync with Cisco UCM), they have been forced to employ a systems integrator at considerable cost and even then the user experience has not been seamless. The resultant integrated solution is then not supported by either vendor’s standard support contract and the organization is forced to contract for maintenance with the SI (with no competitive forces at play).