Cisco, Avaya and Nortel

Unanswered Question
Jul 4th, 2005

Hi,

We want to compare the above three vendor's IPT system, can someone point out some links or comments regarding the different advantages/disadvantages?

Thanks

I have this problem too.
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kleo Wed, 07/06/2005 - 20:03

humm your link seems a little biased towards cisco, not a true comparison of other vendors like Miercom did..

doweiner Thu, 07/07/2005 - 19:20

Well, my opinion will obviously be taken with a grain of salt given who I work for, but I wouldn't respond if I had any doubts. As far as 'independent' evaluations, to me it all depends on what they 'tested', what the focus of the test was, and for some who paid for the test. I think it significant that Cisco, in the VoIP business since ~1996 (fxs, fxo and bri on routers for VoIP), in the telephony business since late 1998 (acquisition of Selsius), is now the number one enterprise telephony vendor - VoIP or not - in the USA. Check out the latest Synergy report. Cisco has consistently shipped 40+% of all IP phones per quarter. The nearest competitor is around 13%. Cisco is shipping 4-6 times the number of IP phones over anyone else. We ship over 9,500 phones per day. Ask the question - how many 'IP phones' have you shipped/installed? Nobody comes close to the 5 Million+ IP phones that Cisco has shipped. I still remember, coming to Cisco from almost 10 years at AT&T/Lucent, when Cisco was installing hundreds if not thousands of IP phones when Avaya didn't even have an IP phone.

One of the most humorous lines I still see is that Cisco is a data company, not a voice company. Cisco = Lucent (many besides myself, including a great many Bell Labs guys that I worked with in Westminster who are now in Boulder) + Geotel + ex-Nortel + ex-Octel + all the others. We're talking developers, engineers, account managers - everything. I'm not even doing justice to the folks from Active Voice and elsewhere. I feel confident in a company that has invested $2 Billion per year in IP communications development for each of the past 6 years, continues to hire (upswing now for those looking ;-), and doesn't show a sign of slowing down.

Don

jneiberger Fri, 07/08/2005 - 10:24

My company is in Denver, CO, so Don probably knows the engineers we've been working with (Brian Atkinson, Dennis Trop, and Andrew Tennant.) We're currently going through an evaluation of Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, and Nortel.

I'm definitely leaning toward Cisco but the other vendors do have something to offer depending on your specific requirements and your environment. (Except for perhaps Nortel. I wouldn't go near that company or its "solutions". )

I don't think there is such a thing as a "best" solution because different companies have different requirements. For my money, I think Cisco is arguably the best system for our needs but it's not perfect. You need to determine what features you require and then go with the vendor who has those features.

However, keep an open mind about what you require. Someone else may just have a different way of doing things. It doesn't have to be a perfect one-for-one match.

As an example, Cisco doesn't have Call Park directly to someone's extension. This will be a minor annoyance to us since we're used to that feature but it won't be a deal-breaker. I know they're working on a feature that's closer to what we have now but it's still not the same.

So, features are a priority. However, you must also keep in mind security, redundancy/failover, available support, available training, end-user training, documentation, and price.

In the features category I'll score Cisco a 7 out of 10. They really used to be WAY behind the "real" PBX vendors but I think they've caught up in most ways and they have a few features that some others don't have.

When it comes to support, training, security, and documentation, no one is even close to Cisco. You simply can't beat the support you'll receive from TAC (if you pay for it) and your local Cisco office (if you ask for it.) If you don't know who your local Cisco account manager is, find out. He or she will make all the difference in your evaluations, and you'll need to know who to go to when you start negotiating pricing. :)

We have one of the best account managers around (I'm sure Don knows her, as well...Mary Berwyn).

It's also important to hook up with a good VAR since Cisco will probably want to get them involved. Support from your VAR will be critical especially during the implementation phase.

Good luck, and let us know if you have any specific questions.

John

kleo Fri, 07/08/2005 - 16:42

remember yes maybe cisco does ship more "IP" phones than Nortel & Avaya BUT the other companies sell MORE total phones which includes digital & analog which cisco doesn't have..it's all the way you look at it.

To me an IP phone system or IP phone needs to do more then what a digital phone does (besides the xml fluff which is worthless) To me it's about buisness applications (call center, mobility, etc) not just about having an ip phone on my desk that does less than my digital phone ?????

I manage many different "IP" phone systems including: Cisco (500 ip phones), Avaya(700 ip phones + 300 digital) and Nortel (200 Ip phones + 200 digital), and to me the Avaya is the most robust and scalable for my buisness because of our call centers...Hate to say it but my Avaya call center with mobile applications is light year ahead of cisco and much easier to manage than our cisco ipcc call center(which will be replaced by avaya soon)..So asking the question how many ip phones have you shipped/installed is a worthless question..sorry :) because there are more important things that matter to my buisness than just running an ip phone and making the cisco folks more money $$..It's about my buisness needs and how ip telephony can save & make me money ( and not talking about MACs)

jneiberger Fri, 07/08/2005 - 19:35

kleo,

Can you tell me more about what you don't like about Cisco IPCC? I've heard from more than one person that IPCC wasn't a great call center solution when compared to others such as Avaya or Mitel. Can you give us some details?

michael_davis@e... Sat, 07/09/2005 - 16:08

I want to preface this by point out that I work on the Support/Managed Services, NOT Sales, side of the house. Hope you'll endulge me while I ramble a bit. :-)

Kleo certainly make some valid points. IP phone sales don't mean much per se. And business should choose the solution that provides the best return, regardless of vendor. And clearly, Avaya's mobile apps fit your business well.

In the call center, there are other vendors that provide some additional phone features that Cisco doesn't yet do. Warning lights that alert you to queue times and depth would be a one example.

That said, phone features aren't the only reasons businesses consider Cisco. Remember, we geeks seldom write the checks. ;-)

ICM could be used to centralize Control, Scripting, and Reporting in your diverse call-center environment. That allows management a better look at call-center performance, better control of staffing, minimizes center managers' reporting games, etc., regardless of whether the PBX is a Nortel, Avaya, or Cisco. And when you add IP to the mix, then you can cut brick and mortar costs as well.

This is probably the single biggest reason Cisco/Geotel has done so well in the Call-center space. There's not too many multi-national companies that are not, or will not be leveraging ICM/IPCC for better visibility and cost control.

One thing, though, it's a mistake to dismiss XML/VXML. Let me give a few simple examples. If your business requires new phone display features, like queue depth alerting, you can build it on a web page and roll it out across an enterprise. You don't need to go buy a new phone for every agent. Or, say you want to implement a scalable self service IVR with ASR and TTS capabilities. With CVP, leveraging VXML technology, you can leverage you existing web infrastructure and XML expertise for content and development. I've seen .NET programmers churn out IVR flows like there's no tomorrow! You can provide them with geographic redundancy and often leverage existing data routers for voice gateways/VXML gateways.

The company I work for used to be TDM-centric, specializing in Nortel, Avaya, Aspect, and others. And we still support them since many customers are reluctant to fork-lift. But we've found there's a real story in IP centric environments, especially greenfield deployments. Selling Cisco IPCC/ICM/CVP, we've taken on and beaten Nortel and Avaya in call center, IVR, Self-service, etc, in some of the worlds most successful companies. And it's _purely_ because of business reasons.

Ironically, most of the pushback from a potential client, comes not from the business side, but from IT. More often than not, they like what they're used to working with.

kleo Mon, 07/11/2005 - 20:37

very good point about vxml, but in regards to xml on the phone...all my agents have pc's and stats are pushed to the client software, so i don't have to worry about what type of phone they are on.(that's how it should be) Also, ICM has one fundamental flaw "pre-routing" or integrating into "stale" ACD data is not the best way to route calls.I can make much more intelligent routing decision when i consolidate,post-route and extend my call center. My call center is a mix of nortel, cisco and avaya phones..it doesn't matter to the avaya call center what the endpoint is..it works for me.

doweiner Mon, 07/11/2005 - 09:12

Well, not to debate all of Kelo's items, but let me clear up the market share picture. Synergy looked at the total revenue numbers for TELEPHONY - IP or not - and Cisco came out number 1 in Enterprise telephony in the US for Q1CY2005. Period. IP or TDM or TDM+IP. Looking at revenue numbers (total, not just IP), Cisco came in at 179,566 (x1000), Nortel at 147,104 (x1000), and Avaya third at 115,330 (x1000) for the quarter. Now, I realize that positions will change back and forth, at least for a time, but don't underestimate Cisco's telephony position, and this is definitely not a one quarter thing. Q4CY2004 Cisco came in 2nd to Nortel (172,956 for Cisco vs. 176,978 for Nortel). AV was back in third at 146,033. In the report I'm looking at I don't see a count for total phones, but have to believe that the others did NOT sell more phones in the US Enterprise market Q1 of this year.

As for the other items, I'll leave them alone ;-) I spent quite a bit of time installing/administering Lucent call centers. Although vectoring was a good thing 10 years ago, I don't think it holds a candle to the scripting and queuing capabilities in IPCC - Enterprise or Express.

kleo Mon, 07/11/2005 - 20:09

ha all the stats make me laugh, because both nortel & avaya have stats showing they're leading in world wide #, etc...from other research groups..pretty funny...my 2 cents.

jneiberger Fri, 07/08/2005 - 10:30

I'm unable to reach that link even after I login to CCO. Is there a version of this document that doesn't require Partner-level access?

dconstantino Fri, 07/08/2005 - 20:03

I disagree about IPCC Enterprise since it is the geotel product that had been around for as long as Avaya Call center apps and is the leader in Call Center apps when Cisco bought them. Express needs some work but I would put it up against any SMB Call center product.I this is from a telcom guy with 15 years of Nortel, Nec, Octel and some Lucent.

I have worked on the Call Manager and Unity since 1998 Purchase of CCM and 2000 Active voice (Unity)

I do have to say I am convinced that Cisco and Avaya are leaders but Cisco is the top.

Also beware of the little bitty guys Shoretel they will sneak up on you and steal buisness. Also am certified in Shoretel and installed it agaist both Avaya and Cisco SMB products.

jneiberger Fri, 07/08/2005 - 20:08

Mitel is another one. They're a smaller company with some great products. I'd probably go with them before I'd go with Avaya. Our current evaluation of Nortel, Avaya, Mitel, and Cisco is coming down to basically Mitel and Cisco.

jneiberger Fri, 07/08/2005 - 20:13

dconstantino brings up a good point of distinction. kleo, are you currently running IPCC Express or Enterprise?

kleo Mon, 07/11/2005 - 18:22

Enterprise and for me is a pain to manage so many servers yes the scripting language is slick, but remember avaya's vectors are done in the call processing not needing me to run 10+ server for 700 agents and allowing to run some pretty cool disaster recovery options throught the world without replicating server farms. In addition I run avaya's CMS reporting server "which is kick butt" and interaction center software which is light years ahead in the Multi-channel call center world..And just an fyi pre-routing is now "old school"in the call center world (being ripped out left and right).

Also, got love all the old lucent folks working at cisco thinking nothing has been updated with the avaya software in the last 5 years:) makes me laugh.

My cisco AM keeps on telling me that ccm is going to have a linux version soon and some new call center software, just what i need to be a beta tester for cisco hahaha...

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Posted July 4, 2005 at 11:14 AM
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