An Update on Microsoft Lync

By Irwin Lazar
On Feb 28, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
One of the most frequent questions I get in my discussions with our clients is “what should we do about Lync, is it ready to replace our PBX from vendor XXX”? It’s clear that Microsoft has gained a lot of mindshare among enterprise UC decision makers. And why not, the argument that those already using Lync for instant messaging and web conferencing can leverage it for voice, thus reducing costs by eliminating a separate telephony platform, is compelling, along with the complementary benefit of not having to integrate disparate UC applications.

In our 2013-14 Enterprise Technology Benchmark released last summer we found that 55% of participating companies were moving to, assessing a move to, or planning to move to a new IP telephony platform in 2014. For most, the move is still away from legacy TDM, in only 19% of cases were organizations moving from one IPT system to another. Of those already moving or planning to move, 13% were going to Microsoft, the same percentage as those going to Avaya, while 23% were heading to Cisco. About a third hadn’t picked a vendor yet. No other vendor had more than 4%. This data shows that Microsoft has gained substantial ground in the IP telephony market and is now one of the “big three” along with Avaya and Cisco that enterprises evaluate for their IP telephony initiatives.

Still, the profile of those adopting Lync (as we noted in our 2012 report “Microsoft Lync Reality Check”) remains largely unchanged – large companies, with an aggressive view toward technology, who already have a Microsoft enterprise licensing agreement, who have already deployed Lync for IM/web conferencing and other Microsoft apps such as Exchange and SharePoint, and who are comfortable with a softphone-centric environment. Those with recent investments in Avaya and Cisco tend to look at ways that they can integrate their existing infrastructure with Lync rather than replace not-yet-depreciated systems with Lync.

One of the big questions that those who are evaluating Lync ask is “does it work”? In our currently underway 2014-15 ET Benchmark we’re gathering data on softphone call quality for IPT vendors, so far we’re not seeing any differences in ratings of Lync versus other vendors, but we’re still early in in our data gathering process. One area where we did see Lync issues is in total cost of operation, in our 2013 UC and IPT TCO report we noted that Lync operational costs were significantly higher than those of leading competitors, largely as a result of the newness of the system, and the need for companies to come up to speed on managing a multi-vendor environment since Microsoft doesn’t sell its own phones, gateways, video endpoints, or session border controllers. We’ll release revised data gathered at the end of 2013 and early 2014 shortly, stand by for an update….

If you’re an enterprise IT leader and you’d like to participate in a 60-minute confidential interview with a Nemertes analyst in exchange for access to our benchmark results, please contact me at