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CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

If you were asked why choosing CUC 8.X over OCS/Lync 2010 when the costs of setup and licensing for the MIcrosoft solution are much cheaper?. Please take my word about being cheaper due to particular circumstances in our company.

What would your reply be? , I need help justifying the CISCO option. I read this document:

I need a more objective and unbiased resource. If you believe you can still take a "jab" on the cost aspect, elaborate on it. But I am looking more on the benefits and robustness of the solution. A Hybrid solution is not an option. Either all CISCO or all Microsoft.

Not even CISCO partners in my area have been able to provide solid answers to this question.




Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

Just my two cents,

Cisco's UC (Unified Communication) experience is mostly based on it's IP Telephony products (i.e. routers, voice gateways, callmanager).  However, UC is more than IP Telephony.  Cisco was trying to expand its UC profile by adding video, IM, presence, web conference to the existing IP Telephony products.  However, they seemed to missing the keyword "Unified", which means:

1) Seamless integration between products - Cisco and 3rd-party (like Microsoft Office).

2) Consistent user experience (UE).

Cisco has a strong experience on backend developing (routers, switches, ASIC, DSP).  But it didn't help to achieve the above goals.  It still has a long way to go on UE.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has done a better job on integration and user experience.  But it lacks the installation base of physical IP phones (like Cisco).  Not everyone would use PC speakers as their day-to-day phone.

It really depends on what feature you're looking for.  As a general rule, no one on the market would gain #1 on every produt/feature.  If you don't want a mixed solution, you'll have to compromise.

IMHO, if you or your client focus on phone call features (conference, barge-in, meet-me, etc.), Cisco would be a better choice.  If you or your client focus on other UC features (presence, IM, web meeting) and would like to have consistent UE and integration, Microsoft would be a better bet.  Of course, things would change in the future, if Cisco hires bunch of MS developers and architects.


New Member

Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

I just went through a rollout of UC in my enterprise, and I am a dominantly Microsoft operation. My previous phone system was an old NEC PBX which was awful and didn't integrate with anything. My current email system is Exchange Server 2010 (upgraded back in the spring), and am looking to upgrade to SP1 this week. For me, if I was going to replace the phones from NEC digital phones to something new, I was going to do it right and go with something consistent-- Cisco phones, Cisco CallManager. That much was a no-brainer. Also a no brainer was deciding to use Exchange's UM as my voicemail platform. Yes, it meant I had to upgrade my users to Enterprise CALs (~$35/user) but that was a bargain too, because I could take advantage of more Exchange features plus I got to save money on my antivirus solutions by using Forefront for Exchange (included in the Enterprise CALs), and it was cheaper than Cisco licensing.

The hard part, and perhaps a mistake I've made, was that I chose to license and implement Unified Presence instead of Lync. I chose Presence because of its integration with CM and the phones, but I didn't really take into consideration its lack of consistency with Exchange and Office. I think if it were April and I were still in the planning stages of my rollout I would have a different opinion, especially since one of my projects next year is probably going to be SharePoint.

Even so, it comes down to your scenario... if your current business is more phone-centric than PC-centric, go UC for everything like I did. It will play well together. If you're more PC-centric or moving to be more PC-centric, I'd probably push for Exchange and Lync... especially if you already have those applications in use today.

Incidentally, stability really isn't a factor to consider in your debate. Both platforms are incredibly stable and dependable, although admittedly only as stable as the implementation plan, so plan things out in advance as much as you can.

New Member

Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

Muransky Companies,

Thank you very much for your reply. Questions:

Did you go with Exchange UM over Cisco Unity just for cost reasons? Does Cisco Unity integrates fine with Exchange or not? It should be less complicated to integrate Unity with Call Manager than Exchange UM with Call manager, right?

From user experience and benefits standpoint, what features do you get with Exchange UM that you do not get with Unity 8.0 for example?

Very appreciated that you shared with experience. And we are planning on using Lync instead of CIsco Presence for presence and  IM.

Thanks and I hope you reply,


New Member

Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

Actually, I don't use the Unity piece at all. I'm licensed for Unity Connection as part of UCM Business Edition (500 users), but my requirements were simpler than most. First, we still have a receptionist during the day, so no need for complex auto-attendant options. After hours, I have Time of Day schedule setup to send calls to the main number directly to a simple attendant on the Exchange side. It's configured for 3 routing options or "name/extension" directory lookups. In any case, the integration is by a very simple SIP connection, and with Exchange 2010 in place it does support Message Waiting Indicators without issue.

The benefit from an end-user perspective is that missed calls and voicemails are dumped directly to the user's Exchange mailbox. No separate IMAP accounts, which means a unified mailbox experience for emails and voicemail (and potentially fax). Exchange's voicemail system is voice activated or touch tone, and does offer transcription of your voicemails (hit or miss on accuracy, but the caller ID info is great as is the attempt). It's accessible via webmail, Outlook, or mobile device too (anything that supports ActiveSync).

New Member

Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?


I appreciate you sharing those principles. But getting to te bottom line of my question, how does CISCO UC integrates with Exchange and Sharepoint?

Would go with CM, Unity and Presence? or would you go with CM, Unity and OCS ?

I can  guess that you might suggest the first option, but my concern is how does the integration looks like with Exchange and Sharepoint?

Would you provide some links that might discuss this.



New Member

Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

We too have similar discounts available to our company.  We actually started off with Call Manager and Unity seperate from Exchange.  We have since upgraded to UCM 7.1 and dropped Unity for UM.  We have not yet implemented the additional features that Lync (formerly OCS) would give us, but are looking to move forward with it soon.

I would agree with the previous posts to consider your company's focus (phone features vs. UC features).  We are still tied to Cisco because of the purchase of hundreds of handsets purchased (will not work with Lync), but have slowly moved away from Cisco as a whole.

To date, I can only think of one feature lost transitioning from UCM + Unity to UCM + UM.  I was able (with Unity) to dial into my voicemail box and bounce back out to make a call.  I have worked with Cisco to try to make this work under our UM environment, but no luck yet.  I know we did experience some issues with the MWI (message waiting indicator) while on Exchange 2007, but have had no issues since upgrading to Exchange 2010.

I think the obvious answer to your integration question may be that UM will integrate tighter with Exchange and Sharepoint.  We were never satisfied with Cisco's integration into our (very dominant) Microsoft environment.

I hope this helps.

Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

I'll take a "jab" at this.    My background is primarily Cisco voice, but the last 12 months I had the "luxury" of deploying OCS R2 voice pilots large enterprise customers.   While they all seemed to like it, I and a few other tier 4 engineers would pull our collective hair out everytime we had to go through the engineering tasks of "making" this work in a hybrid environment.  Dial plans and call admission control is a diaster to make work.  On top of the complicated number of servers required to make it work through the internet.. (DMZ firewalls, load balancers, multiple nic cards, many, many IP addresses.. oh did I mention certificates?)

What MSFT has done a great, but horrible job at is in the past two years, they have pranced around every dog and pony show that OCS R2 voice is great and when Lync comes out, its going to knock your socks off.  While I do agree.. everyone in the world uses IM and the Lync client is pretty nice interface to use.

The prancing is coming back to bite everyone that wants to go to Lync.  Where OCS R2 was free with your Enterprise CAL license... there are now charges for servers and Lync licenses.  So those that got sucked into OCS R2 for the past 2 years all of sudden if they want to continue using voice, they have to start paying for it on top of their Enterprise Cal which is not cheap.

Those of us that know OCS R2 voice, we all knew the short comings of it... lots.  While Lync does fix some of this, I still see it being a valuable solution for a voice end point if you are already running Cisco, Avaya, mitel, etc.   Your company has invested in these products heavily, trained everyone from engineering to the executive assistant on how to use and support the system.  And what are you going to gain switching from one vendor to another?  Is price really the pinch point on this or is the strong arm of Microsoft marketing arm?  So my short comings in Lync:

- SBA "appliances" are expensive!  I mean really?  Do I need another Windows 2008 server in my environment running on a module in a router from another vendor I have to deal with?   (IE....  VX series from NET.. running their software, then another module running Windows 2008 server for local failover).  I thought the model was to get rid of Windows servers or narrow down how many I had to run and support.  Oh wait... MSFT is trying to sell servers indirectly to you now.. I get it..  (hear the sarcasm yet? )

- Call Admission Control is built into Lync.. YEAH!  oh wait... you mean I have to run (2) different CAC models on my network for voice and video if I already have a huge investment in Tandberg, Cisco, Avaya, etc?   Yes... so if you are the oracle of voice at your organization, you have mapped out the voice network in the MPLS for Cisco using CAC in CUCM, possibly gatekeepers, Session Managers or CUSP.. and then someone says we have to use to Lync Voice for some you have to calculate CAC for those separately and try to "predict" what or where that Lync client is going to be making calls to/from.

- E911.  So its NOT native in MSFT land.. its a third party they dished out to someone else.   If you have mapped out CER in Cisco throughout your organization, relayed this info to PSAPs.... and now you have to do it AGAIN just for Lync because they do it differently?  Ugg....  granted.. it might not be as painful.. but the engineering time to make sure every T is crossed and I is dotted.. its 911, not someone calling the lunch lady.

- You can VM your Lync environment.. sort of... I think the jury is still out how well voice and video will work with this... granted they did some tests with Mericom that say they can shove 10k of calls in a 5k bag and it STILL works...  no way... you mean "Media Bypass" finally works..  how well does it work with hand off between vendors, Session Border Controllers, etc....  the jury is out.. who wants to be first?!

- Everyone has been brainwashed by Microsoft again on Voicemail.   Lync in NOT Exchange 2010.  Exchange 2010 is NOT Lync.     That being said, those of us who have extensive Unity or even Avaya voicemail systems know its not as simply as to move to Exchange as your VM platform.  Its a complete and under rebuild of everything from Call Handlers or Auto Attendants, schedules, you name it.   For basic voicemail funtion... it will work, but remember you still need to build out Exchange UM for voice gateways, dial plans, etc that to me.. seems stupid it does not match up with Lync.  You are doubling the work on what you have to do....    Did you know Lync can use Connection for voicemail?  Its in the small print on MSFTs docs that you can use third party voicemail systems...... hmmmm

- Every company from fortune 5 companies down to the ma/pa shops with 200 users have the worst active directories for phone number fields.  Everyone has to have these re-worked to comply with e.164 format or basically just standard formatting.  So the first you do is install Lync and try to use the directory to dial someone... opps... guess we need to update 45k AD user accounts....or spend a couple weeks. (for real) creating a custom Address book in Lync to "Clean it up" until someone puts in a ticket they cant call Joe down the hall.

- Mobility!   If you have paid attention to smartphone market, it goes in this order:   Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows..  and windows phones are basically less than 5-10 percent of the market.  End users are going out and buying their own phones and coming to work and saying "I want mobility!  Support me!"  So what UC vendor are you going to use to help productivity to your employees?   Does Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, etc support all? (hint.. yes they do.. well.. windows phone is last for development because its market share is soooo small).  Now.. tie mobility into the architecture of your "hybrid" Cisco/Lync deployment..  ask a Tier 4 engineer to lay this out for you and see if is OK after thinking about this long and hard....

- Oh.. you want to use XMPP with other companies or vendors.... well in Lync/OCS you need a separate server, separate license just to use XMPP.

Ok, so enough negative.....   Whew....   I do think Lync is a good product for *SOME* environments* and *SOME* vertical markets or even "silo'd" workgroups within an organization.

I really think Cisco is missing the "Window of opportunity" to pounce on Lync right now.  Lync is so slow coming of age and yet Cisco's IM product is slow coming also.  If Cisco had timed this correctly, it would be a no brainer (To me at least) to dump OCS R2 and go to Cisco Jabber (Connect, whatever it is called this week).   When it boils down to IM, what do you really need to do with it....  IM people or multiple people.  Video Chat, make calls, etc.   The Jabber product is going to be if not already knocking on the door of shops that have OCS running for IM.   When you mix in your CUWL licensing, the Jabber product makes complete sense on why NOT to upgrade to Lync and pay the extra fees for licensing to MSFT.

- Lync Client only does 720p for video. vs Jabber will do 1080p (soon)

- Jabber can be pushed out from the cloud, no servers needed, then can be configured as a SIP endpoint off CUCM. 

Remember.. its not about features/functions.   Business drivers is what dictates what product to use and more importantly... HOW to use it.   Dont just MSFT because you are a complete MSFT shop... thats not a good reason at all.    I do some enterprise customers who refuse to go completely with one vendor.   Microsoft may have some, Cisco have some and even Avaya is in there.   That there my friend is a business driver.

Enjoy the collorbation world..... err UC world... err.. (insert next new term)!


Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

Very good write up!

I agreed wtih you that Cisco is missing the "Window of opportunity" on IM.

IMHO, Cisco is a still a "backend" company after 25 years, which means they are good (both engineering and marketing) at moving data (routing, switch, VoIP), but not very good at UE (User Experience) design, not to mention "Easy of Use".

When I was a TAC engineer in Cisco, I actually had to tell a UE engineer how CUPC GUI should look like.

Now I have a Polycom Lync phone on my desk so that I can discuss the upcoming 6-cluster, 100,000-user CUPS project with my Cisco practice team. 


Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

Thanks Michael !

That reminds me of something else.. so when you unboxed your Polycom phone.... could you set it up remotely or did you have to program it to talk to the Pool at the phone?

I like where CUPC is going.. I saw the update last week at the BU and its getting there.  Just trying to figure out where it all fits in with Jabber as Im sure everyone does.  They each have their niche I guess.

Re: CISCO UC 8.X over MS OCS/Lync 2010 why?

To add more fuel to the flames..

Check out the pricing.... turns out.. Cisco is actually slightly cheaper than MSFT+Aspect.      I need to digest these slides a little more, but very interesting over at

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