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									MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                     Term Paper




                       MGMT-463 Term Paper – Fall 2008

                                  Section 72




       Unified Communications and the Microsoft-IBM battle


                               Alok Jhamnani

                                Brandon Jung

                              Karen Mortonson

                               Neeraj Sanghani

                               Arlene Setyawati
MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                                                                 Term Paper


Table of Contents


Executive Summary ...................................................................................................................... 1
Introduction to Unified Communications (UC) ......................................................................... 1
Evolution & Diffusion ................................................................................................................... 2
Market Overview .......................................................................................................................... 5
  Market Size ................................................................................................................................. 5
  Unified Communications Industry Value Chain......................................................................... 5
  Competitive Landscape ............................................................................................................... 6
     Communications platform providers: ..................................................................................... 7
     Collaboration and enterprise application providers ................................................................ 8
Strategy and offerings of key players: The Microsoft and IBM battle .................................... 8
  Differentiated Solution offering:................................................................................................. 9
  Leveraging an existing user base: ............................................................................................. 10
  Mergers, Acquisitions & Partnerships ...................................................................................... 11
  Role of Standards and Interoperability ..................................................................................... 12
  Consulting Services .................................................................................................................. 12
Recommendation......................................................................................................................... 13
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................... 14
References .................................................................................................................................... 17
Executive Summary

       The purpose of this paper is to analyze the evolution of the Unified Communications

(“UC”) industry and examine which firm is positioned to emerge as the market leader. We aim to

describe the background and evolution of UC and provide an overview of the market and the

current competitive landscape. Particularly, we examine the strategies of two differentiated

collaboration software providers: Microsoft and IBM. We selected the aforementioned firms

after applying the value chain framework to the UC industry. We then determined the strengths

and weaknesses of the firms by analyzing their differentiated product offerings and forecasting

how forward looking and pro-active strategies might shape the outcome of the UC competitive

landscape. From these analyses, we suggest which firm is better positioned in the market for the

next 1-2 years from an investment perspective.


Introduction to Unified Communications (UC)

   Unified communications is defined by Forrester Research, a technology market research

firm, as “The combination of presence and availability with voice, video, email, and instant

messaging, which makes it easier to communicate via the most optimal path with employees,

customers, and suppliers and ultimately streamlines business processes.” [11.] UC solutions

seamlessly combine multiple human and device communications into a common experience,

which enables end users to have real-time access to information and one another.

   UC allows a company to tap into resources that it could not previously because of geography,

and allows businesses to leverage the expertise of anyone, anywhere, anytime. As a result, a

company can leverage this capability as a competitive differentiator in the talent marketplace.

   The key technologies that constitute UC solution include VoIP, telephony, audio, video &

web conferencing, email, presence, instant messaging, contact center, client relationship



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management, and collaboration applications, among others. The term “unified” implies the

ability for these technologies and their affiliated communication products to be integrated into

one bundled solution. The leading UC providers offer at least two or more of the aforementioned

technologies in their product portfolios. With these key technologies, a user can determine the

location and availability of team members by their presence in an interactive directory, initiate

contact via instant messaging, and then coordinate and launch into a web or teleconference to

collaborate on a project on a real-time basis. The concept of presence can also be applied to

business processes, in which the application identifies the appropriate resource (individual,

system etc.) at the instant in which it is needed. The benefits of UC include: a.) increased

productivity, due to acceleration of problem resolution and project completion, b) reduced cost,

due to elimination of wait time and travel costs, and c) improved customer experience, due to

knowledge transfer and training across team members.



Evolution & Diffusion

History & Evolution

   The history of UC is a relatively short one. While the main components of UC, such as

email, instant messaging, conferencing, Internet-PBX and mobile devices have existed for

decades, the introduction of UC is a much newer phenomenon. As seen in Figure 1, while the

technologies supporting data, voice and collaboration all existed in the 1990s, it was not until the

2000s that voice and data were able to be combined. Major collaboration vendors, such as

Microsoft, only began focusing on the market in 2006. [1.]. Since its inception UC has received a

great deal of interest from vendors in the technology industry and enterprises across industries.

In 2007, market research firm Gartner ranked UC second among the top ten strategic



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technologies likely to be focused on by enterprises in over next few years [2.]. However, prior to

the widespread usage of the individual technologies involved UC was simply not as attractive for

enterprises. It was only when the technologies involved reached the market saturation point did

UC become viable. The adoption of UC has been spurred by interest in green IT, as it reduces

paper consumption and pollution from travel. It also has garnered interest due to the uncertainty

in the economy at a time when companies are particularly interested in improving productivity

and reducing costs.




                                   Figure 1: Evolution of UC

Barriers to Adoption

       While there has been a great deal of interest, overall adoption of UC has remained slow.

UC is an incremental innovation and currently somewhat nebulous in its definition, making it

more difficult for it to appeal to the early majority market. The conglomeration of technologies

that allowed UC to be possible also reduces the speed at which it can be adopted. Driven by the

needs of their particular businesses, enterprises have purchased specialized communication and

collaboration systems over time and are constrained by the context of their particular


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communication infrastructure. These enterprises face looming complexity and associated

switching costs in making the UC solutions interoperable with that infrastructure. In addition,

the entrance of so many vendors into the UC market has led to concerns over which ones will

sustain in the long-term, as no enterprise wants to risk investing in UC only to find itself

unsupported a few years later. UC also requires involvement and support from multiple groups

within an enterprise (IT, telephony, network, call-center, operations, etc.); it is not a technology

that can beneficially be adopted by only a small group [8.]. Finally, the vendors have had trouble

demonstrating a compelling business case that concretely shows how UC can improve

productivity and efficiency while cutting costs for the enterprise.

Current Diffusion State

       There are clear signs that UC is in the process of crossing the gap to the early majority.

Approximately 16% of enterprises have fully deployed UC solutions and 20% have partial

deployment. Over 50% of companies, both small and large, appear to be interested in UC,

though the definition of what UC means to each is not clear [11.]. On the demand side several

factors such as the need for reducing costs given the state of the economy, growth in remote

workforce, the need to collaborate with customers and partners around the world on an

immediate basis, and proliferation of mobile devices and social networking technologies are

pushing enterprises to consider UC. On the supply side major UC product and service providers

are beginning to recognize concerns over interoperability and are starting to demonstrate

integration between multiple UC platforms [3.]. Overall, a vendor that can address these

concerns would be poised to gain significant market share as the market continues to shift from

the early adopters to the early majority.




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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                            Term Paper




Market Overview

Market Size

       The market for UC is in a state of flux, making attempts to gauge the current and future

market size difficult. The lack of any universal definition of UC and the importance of growth in

the many technologies that are involved in UC solutions lead to further complications. One

market analyst, Wainhouse Research, initially predicted in 2007 that the worldwide UC services

market would grow to $24.2 billion by 2012, at a CAGR of 22.0% and the UC product market

would grow to $24.5 billion by 2013 at a CAGR of 7.0% [20.]. However, Wainhouse Research

recently published its 2008 UC product market report, which had the UC product market only

reaching $16.4 billion in 2013 at a CAGR of 1.0% [21.]. The services market report for 2008 is

not yet available. Clearly, the UC market remains difficult to predict from year to year. Another

analyst group, The Radicati Group, predicts that the unified communications services market will

be $25.6 billion by 2011 [22.] and the “on-premises” unified communications market will grow

to $1.4 billion [23.]. While these market analyses predict very different results, both research

firms divide the UC market into a products market and a services market. Also, they find UC to

be a sizable market with the possibility of significant growth over the next few years.



Unified Communications Industry Value Chain

   Until 2006, when Cisco Systems adopted the term "Unified Communications" to describe a

wide range of its voice products, the UC concept was relatively unknown, and its use was largely

confined to the players in the IP telephony market [29.]. Since then, a broad range of vendors

have targeted the UC market. In order to better predict the change in the industry, the concept of



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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                                                                Term Paper


“value chain” is used to define the boundaries and how participants in the industry relate to each

other (Figure 2).

                                                       3rd party
                                                      Application
                                                    Developers (e.g.               Provide
           Enterprise purchases                        ANDTek)                     communication
           additional applications                                                 applications
           compatible with the                               Provide
           chosen platform                                   collaboration
                                                             applications

                                                                                                           UC Platform

                                                                             Provides
                   Enterprise deploys the UC         Collaboration           communication        Communication
                   platform of choice                   Platform             network         Platform Providers (e.g.
  Enterprise
                                                     Providers (e.g.         equipment         Cisco, Avaya, Nortel,
                                                    IBM, Microsoft)                                  Siemens)




                                                     Partnership for
                                                     interoperability
                                                                                              Partnership for
     Uses Devices for UC                                                                      interoperability


                                                         Device
                                          Manufacturers (e.g. manufacturers of
                                           PC, Landline, PDA, mobile phone,
                                                  video conference)



                                                  Figure 2: UC Value Chain

Enterprises (customers) buy products and service from Collaboration Platform Providers who

provide applications such as email, presence, instant messaging, web conferencing, desktop call

centers and client relationship management. Communication Platform Providers provide

infrastructure and applications related to telephony and VoIP, and Device Manufacturers partner

with the Collaboration and Communication provider for interoperability. Smaller communication

networking systems and application development companies provide value-added products for

UC platforms.



Competitive Landscape

    Figure 3 below depicts the competitive landscape of the UC market [28.].



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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                            Term Paper




                                    Figure 3: Competitive landscape

   Enterprise UC solutions from these vendors often reflect the vendors' specific strengths and

backgrounds. The vendors can be broadly classified into following two categories:

Communications platform providers:

   The incumbent communication platform providers such as Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco

Systems, Nortel Networks, and Siemens seek to build UC suites on top of their IP voice

switching platforms. As voice moves to become a software-only application, these companies

will increasingly rely on their revenues from software and services. Their strategy is to deliver

new network-based services on their networking products (switches, routers, access points and

telephony) and provide interoperability with business applications, personal information and

presence management systems.

   Though their existing competencies in voice communications position them as key players in

UC, the communications vendors are required to closely partner with IBM and Microsoft to

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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                            Term Paper


provide complete UC offerings. At the same time, they face threats from IBM and Microsoft,

which deliver complete UC feature sets including IM, e-mail, presence and VoIP. Among the

communication vendors, Cisco deserves a notable mention as it is positioning itself for a

leadership position by leveraging its experience in architecture for voice, video and integrated

data platforms. This is evident from its recent acquisitions: Jabber, PostPath, Securent,

Broadwave Technologies and Webex [12.] .

Collaboration and enterprise application providers

       Non-traditional players in voice communications such as IBM and Microsoft focus on the

full suite of UC application infrastructure. They are recognized market leaders in email and

collaboration software for business and have a strong channel presence in PC and networking

markets. IBM and Microsoft offer extensive UC solutions and are often the preferred partners for

telecommunication providers for integration with their call servers or PBX systems. The battle

among these vendors to sell UC products and services is fervent, as they build and create unique

partnerships. Also, vendors compete in certain areas and cooperate in others, further creating

solution overlap and brand confusion in the market place.



Strategy and offerings of key players: The Microsoft and IBM battle


   Real-time communication in business is gradually migrating from voice to data due to the

availability of tools such as email and IM, making PCs and SmartPhones the instruments of

choice. Moreover, since UC solutions require significant integration of technologies, buyers will

favor “complete solution and service” suppliers as providers of UC. Hence, based on their

position in the industry value chain and the analysis of the competitive landscape of UC, we




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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                          Term Paper


believe that IBM and Microsoft are best positioned to gain a major market share. Their strategies

are focused in the following areas:


Differentiated Solution offering:




    Figure 4: Microsoft-IBM solution comparison (Source: IBM internal presentation)



Microsoft’s solution has the following key features:

      Office Communication Server (OCS) acts as a PBX and interfaces with existing solutions

       via 3rd party or Nortel gateways.

       The solution has heavy preferences for the internet and packet switched networks, but

       does provide interoperability with existing PSTN backbones through 3rd party gateways.

      Microsoft provides all other services, including IM, e-mail, conferencing, etc., which are

       extended to mobile devices running the Win Mobile Operating System.

IBM’s solution has the following key features:




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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                             Term Paper


      IBM’s UC solution is Lotus Sametime [27.], which provides services including IM, e-

       mail, conferencing etc. Some of these are through open alliances with Cisco and other 3rd

       party software vendors.

      Sametime leverages the full range of Cisco technology and integrates with it using

       plugins. Consequently, it integrates with PSTN and the internet using Cisco’s gateways

       and routers.

      Sametime is designed to run on many mobile platforms (BlackBerry, Win Mobile,

       Symbian etc.)



Leveraging an existing user base:

   Microsoft Outlook Exchange owns 65% of the enterprise e-mail market [4.] and Microsoft

Server owns 66% of the network directory services market [9.]. Moreover, Microsoft Windows

owns over 90% of the operating systems market [26.]. The key strategy for the company is to use

this enormous user base in order to push its UC solution and cut off other competitors.

Microsoft’s UC extensions, such as the Office Communication Server and Office Communicator

(the client application), seamlessly integrate with existing Microsoft products. Users are also

very familiar with the “look and feel” of existing Microsoft client software, such as Outlook. The

company has adopted penetration pricing to ignite positive feedback and UC extensions are

offered at a significant discount to existing clients using the Windows-Outlook solution [7.].

   IBM owns 10% of the enterprise e-mail market [4.], with strength in large enterprises (more

than half of the Fortune 100), financial services and manufacturing [14.]. The strength in large

enterprises is critical because they are lead users for UC solutions. IBM has invested

significantly in enabling these innovative/cutting edge clients to collaborate across their


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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                            Term Paper


geographically dispersed base. This strategy focuses on IBM’s investments in collaboration,

social computing, integration, and portal technologies. Foundationally IBM believes that the

world is moving towards real-time social collaboration and that the traditional email/document

centric method of collaboration will become obsolete as the deluge of email makes finding the

right information at the right time increasingly difficult.

    Companies with a particular UC solution face potential lock-in, since changing the UC

provider will require replacement of servers, client software etc. Both Microsoft and IBM realize

that they can achieve significant profitability by winning key accounts with long term revenue

potential.



Mergers, Acquisitions & Partnerships

    Microsoft is building allies by offering compatibility of its collaboration and communication

software with equipment from various communications platform providers while maintaining

control of the overall solution offering. Microsoft announced a joint collaboration with Nortel to

form the Innovative Communications Alliance as a “go to market vehicle” [15.]. Combining

Microsoft’s software solutions with Nortel’s communication infrastructure provides a complete

solution to businesses. These companies are also cross-licensing key technologies. Furthermore,

Microsoft has extended its partnership to Avaya [16.] and acquired niche communication

vendors such as TellMe, a voice recognition tool, and Parlano, a group chat solution [18.].

    IBM has announced significant partnerships with Cisco [24.] and Avaya in the past year.

IBM has made clear statements to the industry and to its partners that it will not step outside of

the traditional scope of Sametime. This is well illustrated by Figure 4 and has significant

implications as to how much of the value chain partners can capture. The strategic choice



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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                           Term Paper


combined with solid interoperability is designed to create a larger ecosystem and allow for

innovative new partners to enter the market. This is also apparent in the mobile space. IBM has

also made strategic acquisitions such as Webdialogs to expand Sametime’s web conferencing

capabilities [19.]



Role of Standards and Interoperability

    By definition, UC is a conglomeration of technologies. Hence, standards and interoperability

play a critical role in strategy. Both Microsoft and IBM actively work with standards bodies.

IBM is particularly focused on touting interoperability with existing backbone solutions offered

by Cisco and other vendors. Microsoft’s reputation of monopoly and “closed solutions” could

hurt its image in the UC market space. Although various players own key patents, UC is

primarily based on open standards. Certain technological components are cross-licensed across

vendors.



Consulting Services

    IBM’s consulting services play a significant role in communicating the value of its UC

solutions to clients. Although this could be regarded by enterprises as a biased view, it does pave

the way for an end-to-end solution for an enterprise, with measurable improvements to business

processes. CEBP (Communication Enabled Business Processes) is a term coined by Avaya and

both Microsoft and IBM are competing to extend their UC solutions to provide automated

business process improvements [13.]




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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                            Term Paper


Recommendation

   The UC market is still in a “fluid phase”, with no clear dominant design. A lot of uncertainty

prevails with regards to the various solutions and their offered value. The following points are

apparent:

Leaders must communicate value and provide a complete solution

   Although many businesses are unclear about the definition of UC, 51% of enterprises felt

more comfortable in purchasing UC from an existing voice solution vendor [10.] Both Microsoft

and IBM must solidify their positions as “complete, collaborative, unified communications

platform providers” and increase efforts to communicate the value UC adds to business

organizations and processes. Furthermore, mobility is foreseen to become a systemic part of UC

[11.]. Both Microsoft and IBM have invested in mobile based client software. However,

Microsoft has an edge with the Win Mobile operating system, which can be leveraged to provide

an integrated and cost-effective solution.

Leaders must provide reliability and interoperability

   Several analysts have predicted consolidation within the UC market. Some analysts have

predicted that Microsoft will be in the top three at the expense of IBM

   [5.]. However, IBM has openly marketed its UC solution as being highly convergent and

interoperable with existing communication solutions. Microsoft has made similar claims, but its

reputation in the market for being a “closed solution” provider could hurt its image. Lead users

have also raised concerns about the reliability of Microsoft’s solution [7.] Furthermore, Bill

Gates forecasted the “death of the PBX” and saw software as the future of UC [8.]. Since

adoption of UC is a slow, cumbersome process and requires gradual, layered integration with




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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                            Term Paper


existing communication systems, both companies must provide cost-effective and reliable

solutions.

Leaders must recognize the threat from powerful communication platform providers, such as

Cisco

   Although, Microsoft and IBM are perceived as complete solution providers, Cisco has made

a major foray into this space. Despite its open collaboration with IBM, Cisco has been acquiring

small UC application providers, such as Jabber in 2008 and Webex in 2007. This strategy poses a

serious threat, especially to IBM. It is conceivable that Cisco can leverage its existing market

leadership in the communication infrastructure space and build upon its application and service

functions in order to provide complete solutions.



Conclusion

   A summary of IBM and Microsoft’s strengths and weaknesses is given below:

              IBM                                         Microsoft

Strengths        Completeness of vision                     Completeness of vision
                 Leading market share in messaging          The leader in enterprise e-mail,
                  and email                                   leading share in messaging
                 Client consulting services                 The leader in enterprise operating
                 Strong interoperability and vendor          systems, presence in mobile OS
                  relations                                  Strong brand value
                 Strong brand value                         Low cost, combined solutions
                 Access to capital and clout                Access to capital and clout


Weaknesses       Clients may find combined solution         Reliability problems
                  with multiple vendor products              Has yet to demonstrate commitment
                  confusing                                   to interoperability
                 Threat of isolation from Cisco
                 No presence in Operating Systems
                 Heavily reliant on open alliances



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MGMT 463 – Fall 2008                                                           Term Paper


       Since UC is a combination of multiple technologies and enterprises have deployed

specialized communication and collaboration systems over a long period of time, it is highly

unlikely that the market will tip towards a single dominant technology or vendor. Standardization

of interface technology and integration will shift the locus from competition for the market to

competition in the market. We anticipate that the vendor landscape in the near future will be

more complex with IP Telephony providers, desktop software makers, and enterprise application

providers all offering solutions, with no clear leader. However, based on the strengths and

weaknesses of the firms, we definitely see Microsoft as having an edge over IBM. Despite the

stigma associated with Window’s dreaded “blue screen of death”, Microsoft is focused on

delivering a comprehensive product suite and is one of the few vendors that can offer the early

majority a clear migration path and mitigate interoperability risk. Moreover, the company

provides open plug-in interfaces to enable Web developers to extend UC features and has filled

its gaps in the critical voice communications expertise by forming strategic alliances with Nortel

[17.] and Avaya [16.]. Above all, Microsoft’s leading presence in operating systems, e-mail

services and IM and its consequent ability to provide low cost, combined solutions give it a

strong edge. However, in order to fortify this position, we recommend that investors watch for

the following milestones from Microsoft within the next 1-2 years:

      Go-To-Market Partnerships: Microsoft needs to achieve and continue successful

       partnerships and implementations with network providers. In particular, Nortel is

       currently struggling financially, and investors should look for Microsoft to emphasize

       other partnerships.

      Interoperability with multiple communications platform providers: Microsoft must

       deploy UC in enterprises with cross-vendor solutions. In particular, investors should look


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       for published feedback from those companies indicating efficiency and ease of

       integration

      Commitment to CEBP: Updates to Microsoft’s UC solutions should provide automation

       of key business process solutions such as order processing, MRP, CRM, ERP etc.

      Well publicized adoption by a lead enterprise user: Microsoft should achieve a

       noteworthy adoption by a leading enterprise, and then develop and gather metrics that

       quantify performance/cost improvements with UC. If possible, Microsoft should also

       demonstrate reliability via quality standards such as the much-touted five-9s availability.

      Commitment to mobility: Win Mobile is not foreseen to become a market leader in the

       near future. Hence, Microsoft must extend its full suite of UC applications to major

       mobile operating systems, such as Symbian or publish definite plans to do so.


If Microsoft can achieve these milestones, we believe it is in the best position to gain share

within the UC market. Microsoft is not required to meet all of these milestones within the next

1-2 years, and the uncertain nature of the UC market makes it less likely that one dominant

leader will arise. They are each, however, signs that investors can look for to indicate that

Microsoft is focusing on the important issues within the UC industry. Failure to consider them

could provide openings to other vendors such as IBM or Cisco.




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References

[1.] http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/101607-microsoft-unified-communications.html

[2.] http://green.tmcnet.com/topics/green/articles/12286-green-tech-unified-communications-top-gartner-list-
2008.htm

[3.] http://www.networkworld.com/newsletters/converg/2008/111708converge1.html

[4.] http://www.ferris.com/?p=318858

[5.] http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/news/column/0,294698,sid186_gci1288621,00.html

[6.] http://www.infonetics.com/pr/2008/ms08.uc.2h07.nr.asp

[7.] http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS241953+24-Apr-2008+MW20080424

[8.] http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/101607-microsoft-unified-communications-analysis.html?ap1=rcb

[9.] http://in.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idINIndia-32190720080228

[10.] “The Unified Communications Paradox”, Henry Dewing. Forrester Research, May 8, 2007

[11.] “Top Unified Communications Predictions For 2008”, Henry Dewing. Forrester Research, Feb 20, 2008

[12.] http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac49/ac0/ac1/about_cisco_acquisition_years_list.html

[13.] http://blog.ucstrategies.com/index.php/2007/11/13/why-avaya-is-differentiating-cebp-from-unified-

communications/

[14.] “Microsoft E-Mail Momentum Growing at IBM's Expense”, Tom Austin, Gartner Research Sept 25, 2006

[15.] http://www.innovativecommunicationsalliance.com/

[16.] http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/mar06/03-07AvayaPR.mspx

[17.] http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/jul06/07-18UCGNortelPR.mspx

[18.] http://www.microsoft.com/msft/acquisitions/history.mspx

[19.] http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/22210.wss

[20.] http://www.wainhouse.com/files/wrb-08/wrb-0840.pdf

[21.] http://www.wainhouse.com/reports/WR_UC08prod_summary.pdf

[22.] http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/07_service_uc_brochure.pdf

[23.] http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/07_onpremise_uc_brochure.pdf

[24.] http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/030707-voicecon-ibm-cisco-partnership.html

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[25.] http://www.avaya.com/gcm/master-usa/en-us/corporate/pressroom/pressreleases/2007/pr-070122.htm

[26.] http://marketshare.hitslink.com/os-market-share.aspx?qprid=9

[27.] http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/sametime/

[28.] http://mediaproducts.gartner.com/reprints/microsoft/vol6/article1/article1.html

[29.] “The state of VoIP and UC adoption in Europe”, Forrester Research, December 2007




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