In Nemertes' current research benchmark, we're seeing a growing number of organizations adopting a multivendor strategy for their VoIP deployments.
One of the drivers for doing so is the growth in the number of branch offices, along with the rise in the number of remote workers.
What's the connection? Ease of implementation. I've talked to several IT executives who wrapped up their internal IP telephony deployment at headquarters - and they were a bit taken by the complexity of the rollout. The thought of replicating that at dozens, hundreds, or thousands of branch offices was a non-starter.
As a result, they looked for simpler products or services for the branch offices - given that the IT staff is limited at remote sites. In some cases, they deployed an explicit "branch office" solution, such as Avaya's IP Office, Cisco's Call Manager Express, or Nortel's Business Communications Manager. But they didn't always match the vendor at the headquarters with the vendor at the remote offices.
I think this is a good move for the industry. Rather than being married to a specific vendor, IT managers are forcing the vendors to compete per-product.
So even though an organization may have Cisco Call Manager at the headquarters, it doesn't mean they won't use Nortel BCM at the branch if it sees better benefits and value with the latter.
What I expect will happen moving forward is for organizations to buy hosted VoIP solutions for their branch offices. Already, we're seeing a substantial demand among enterprise IT executives for hosted VoIP services on a global scale. And organizations that have adopted this strategy plan to use whatever service is available in the area they need to reach - again underscoring the overall trend of multivendor solutions.
The message to the vendors and carriers: Interoperability isn't just a need-to-have, it's a must-have. And, they cannot assume that an organization will stay with them just because they already deployed their equipment to one or more sites, so innovation, customer service, and ease of implementation continue to be key.
Even though it may be easier to deploy a homogeneous VoIP network, rarely do they stay that way. Leveraging the benefits of various products and services will not only advance communications within each organization, but also the industry overall.