Apples to Apples: Avaya IP Office 8.1 Beats ShoreTel On TCO

Last week, I posted a blog about how much less expensive Avaya IP Office is for mid-sized companies versus ShoreTel’s solution, as calculated by the respected analyst firm, The Tolly Group. ShoreTel quickly posted a rebuttal blog. 

We question ShoreTel’s methodology, its statistics, and its assertions. My Avaya colleagues Tim Johnson and Joe Scotto have created the following point-by-point rebuttal of ShoreTel’s claims, which I share below.

From The ShoreTel
Rebuttal Blog (4/24/13)

The Facts

    “No customer data was incorporated in
their analysis of costs.  ShoreTel commissioned the Aberdeen Group to
survey more than 300 customers and collect their actual historical operating
cost data over multiple years.  This is the only way to know what the
actual operating costs will be, and is far more precise than a lab experiment.”

–     Avaya chose to have Tolly perform an
apples-to-apples product comparison between ShoreTel and Avaya in a
controlled, lab environment, thus eliminating variances like software
releases, customer sophistication, usage patterns, and personal opinions.

–    ShoreTel’s Aberdeen report surveyed a mixed sample
of customer types with a mixed set of products. Such variances can skew

–    In addition, the Tolly test uses IP Office Server
Edition. This is a new solution which includes centralized licensing and management.
Clearly, that impacts TCO operations. 

–    None of the customers in the ShoreTel sponsored
Aberdeen report were using Server Edition, which invalidates their rebuttal.

     “The report does not include the
expected software upgrade costs a customer would face over five years. ShoreTel
does not charge for upgrades. Avaya charges for all feature releases,
resulting in higher costs.”

–    This statement is completely inaccurate.

–    Avaya includes all software upgrades as part of the Avaya
IP Office Support Services offer

     “There are no labor costs for
operating the system included in the analysis, as their lab experiment
implies they are the same.  Customer interviews validate more resources
are needed to manage Avaya IP Office systems, resulting in higher costs.”

– Tolly did in fact evaluate administration as part of
their comparison. Here is a direct quote from the report:

–   “Tolly
engineers performed typical system administrative tasks and noted the
ease-of- deployment and functionality of the systems. Typical functions consisted
of: importing users, adding trunk lines, configuring backups, and global
system variables for use in the environment. Engineers also evaluated the
ease-of- upgrades and different administration options available.”

–    In addition, ShoreTel does not offer data to validate
the claim that “more resources” are required for the Avaya solution.
Remember, customer interviews based on prior products are not a valid
comparison. Also, as stated, the Avaya IP Office Server Edition product is
new (July 2012). 

    “No actual customer data reflecting
demand on IT to support users is included. 
The analysis of Avaya versus ShoreTel customers validates Avaya IT
departments get more requests from users, which results in higher support

–    Avaya was first to market with a browser-based user
application (i.e. one-X portal from IP Office Release 5 in 2009).  With that release we noted the significant
time savings for user deployment and support.

–    The continuous innovations from release 5 to the
current release of 8.1 all contribute to the conclusions stated in the Tolly
report. And IT departments will enjoy the savings and efficiencies derived
from them. Again, the lab test demonstrates that Avaya delivers an average of
32% savings over the ShoreTel solution (i.e. based on a 5 year TCO

–   One must note that there is no valid source for the
claim that “Avaya IT departments get more requests…”. Is this an assumption
based on discussions with “select” ShoreTel customers? The Aberdeen report does
not indicate why specific customers were selected to participate in the
survey. All that is provided is the following statement:

supplemented this online effort with telephone interviews with
survey respondents”

    “Avaya’s own One-X Portal product
literature indicates their products do not always operate as expected.”

–    Every software product has the potential to
occasionally “not always operate as expected.”  There is no data to suggest that this is
more common with Avaya software than with software developed by ShoreTel.

–    It’s not clear what ShoreTel is trying to say here
about the Tolly report claims.

    “ShoreTel holds to the accuracy of our
TCO calculations and guarantees the results. 
If Avaya can produce statistically accurate customer data gathered
from a third party that can demonstrate their TCO to be lower, ShoreTel will
lower our price accordingly.”

–    Customers should read the fine print in ShoreTel’s

–    ShoreTel literature states that customers must use
the ShoreTel tool (i.e. which includes their view of all competitive pricing)
to qualify for the guarantee. In
addition, customers must have a minimum of 100 IP endpoints to qualify,
excluding approximately 99% of businesses from participating.

–    As of 4/24, below is an excerpt from the ShoreTel
T&C document, verbatim:

–    “System
configurations covered are limited to:

–    Minimum
of 100 IP phone users

–    Minimum
of 10 IP phone users per locations”

–    “The ShoreTel
TCO Tool must be used to calculate the difference between ShoreTel and
competitive systems.”

–    The Avaya
IP Office TCO tool
is open to all customers. It does not presume to tell
you what you would pay for a competitor’s product. It’s confident to stand on
its own TCO strength that you can calculate with your own data.  

–    We invite prospects to use that tool for help and
encourage them to ask ShoreTel for details about their “guarantee”.

–    “Based on the feedback from the Avaya
employees that have joined ShoreTel, from discussions with employees impacted
by Avaya’s headcount reductions, and from discussions with resellers that
sell both Avaya and ShoreTel, we find the interview results gathered by
Aberdeen Research to be consistent with what customers face in the production

–    Tolly obtained the pricing from a reseller that
sourced both solutions. The analysis included list pricing as well as
“street” discounts so there is no subjectivity in the numbers used.

–     The misleading information in the Aberdeen report was
a key driver for Avaya to set the record straight with this report from

–    The facts are that the “results” gathered for ShoreTel
by Aberdeen do not reflect a like-for-like solution comparison. There were
numerous pricing and feature errors stated. No lab testing was conducted and
the survey sampling was significantly flawed (e.g. Avaya IP Office had half
the number of customers represented in the survey vs  ShoreTel; yet in SME markets, ShoreTel has less
than 2% global market share where Avaya has roughly seven times that share,
or 15%).

–    Avaya can support each of those points with
specifics and we welcome any opportunity to do so. Please contact one of our
authorized resellers for a full briefing.



Related Articles:

What Smart Analysts Think About Microsoft's Lync Telephony Claims

black telephone handset disconnected.jpg

The big brains at UCStrategies had a very relevant podcast last week. Ten of the Unified Communication industry’s leading independent analysts weighed in on Microsoft’s recent claim that its Lync unified communications suite was “leading” in shipments of enterprise voice/telephony software.

Microsoft appears to be basing its claim on shipments of Lync voice, but doesn’t say much more. As a result, “there’s a lot of debate and discussion” about what Lync voice shipments actually mean, says UCStrategies analyst and podcast moderator Blair Pleasant. “Are they paid licenses, free licenses that customers get from enterprise CALs (client access licenses), (voice) seats actually being used and deployed, or (numbers) just out there because companies have Lync [suite]?”

One thing’s for sure: when you go by the tried-and-tested methodology of tracking the number of phone lines actually being deployed to users today, Microsoft isn’t on top according to any of the analyst firms. Indeed, according to one of the most respected market watchers, analyst Alan Weckel of the Dell ‘Oro Group, Avaya is actually number one in enterprise voice. My colleague Enzo Signore pointed this out in a blog several weeks ago – before the UCStrategies podcast.

There were too many opinions in UCStrategies’ 38-minute podcast to neatly summarize. Not all of them agreed with each other, of course. But here are the quotes that particularly stood out for me:

Blair Pleasant: “I personally have some issues with these numbers and what they mean…I don’t think it’s fair to say that Microsoft is a leader in enterprise voice at this point. Again, they’re doing gangbusters, but they’re still a niche player. And the companies I speak with aren’t rushing out to deploy Lync voice.

Marty Parker: “I think [Blair] you’re exactly right, that any claim like this should be greeted initially with some serious skepticism…Microsoft, pretty uniquely among the leaders, sells licenses far ahead of deployments. The number of licenses can be 2x or more what is actually being deployed. The deployment reports we’ve seen from a number of sources put Microsoft in the 5% range in terms of actual deployments for FY12. If you extrapolate from that 6-7% for FY13, and then double that, you get 13%…That is a number that wouldn’t stand up when someone goes out to use a rigorous approach to market share data. Maybe for shipments, but it doesn’t reflect reality on the ground.

Dave Michels: “I see a lot of firms deploying Lync. I don’t see a lot of firms deploying Lync voice…I also know from other observations that Microsoft is pretty shady about their numbers. A lot of other firms are very open. Microsoft is very secretive about this stuff. They don’t put a lot of detail behind this…It’s a whole different level of open-ness you don’t see with Microsoft.

Jim Burton: “When I was in debate in school, my Bible was a book called ‘Lying with Facts and Figures.’ I don’t think he [Microsoft blogger] lied, but the way he presented it was a bit of a misrepresentation, if you understood all of the facts.”

Roberta Fox: “It really wasn’t til late 2012 where Microsoft was considered for telephony or even desktop video. They really were not seen as reliable or credible telecom solutions from enterprise clients as replacements for their PBXes, due to concerns about reliability, availability and the feature set. Another interesting thought: there was very little interest in Lync for desktop video applications.”

I encourage you all to take a listen to this podcast.

How Mediocre Customer Service Is Driving Your Customers Away

Some companies drive away loads of customers with one big move. Like that department store chain that got rid of coupons and sales promotions. Its base of cost-sensitive mom shoppers quickly fled to other stores

For most companies, losing customers is a slow, inexorable process, that looks more like this:

kitchen faucet dripping water.jpg

What’s the cause? In many cases, it’s weak customer service. Most companies over-spend on customer acquisition and under-invest on keeping existing customers happy. The result is statistics like this from Forrester Research:

There are many reasons why your customer service may be leaving customers less than thrilled. Customers are more diverse than before, for one:
Technology has also made customers more independent – and demanding. They want to be served right here, right now. 
Problem is that most companies, even if they talk the multi-channel talk, fail to walk the walk. Beyond voice, they may have deployed 1-2 additional ways for their agents to deal with customers. Turns out, there are a dozen channels besides voice that your customer may want – nay, demand – to be able to reach you on. Also, companies trying to deploy new contact center channels will, how can I be polite about this, often do it BADLY.
Do these problems sound familiar at all? Are they ones you want to solve? If so, you might consider attending the next Avaya Customer Experience webinar, ‘Where Did All of my Customers Go (and How Do I Win Them Back?)’
Broadcasting this Thursday Nov. 7 at 11 am PT (2 pm ET), it features a mix of experts in this area, including:
– Sheila McGee-Smith, independent customer experience analyst;
– Tony Bridgewater, Executive General Manager, Technology & Products, for Australian system integrator, Salmat;
– Mark Wilson, CMO for Avaya;
– Jeanne Bliss, our moderator, who writes and consults on customer experience and is a former Chief Customer Officer at multiple companies; 
Attendees to the webinar get a print copy of the book, Managing the Customer Experience, mailed to them.

Who's the Real Number One in Business Telephony?

The telephone is far from dead. You know who still loves to call people? Family members, close friends and…the Pope. No joke: 76-year-old Pope Francis has startled a quite a few strangers with a call from a Vatican landline in which he simply announces, “It’s the Pope.” It’s happened to enough people that the Corriere della Sera, a leading newspaper in my native Italy, published a front-page article offering tips on how to make small talk if His Holiness calls (tip #1: talk about soccer).

You know who else loves the telephone? Businesspeople. Unified Communications may be a diverse, ever-growing set of tools and technologies, but the channel that started it all still plays a central role. It’s why there’s a never-ending stream of articles advising how to schmooze colleagues on the phone, how to run your phone meetings, how to close sales deals on the phone, how to ace telephone job interviews, etc. The stakes are high, which is why telephony remains such a hotly-contested market.

Last week, Microsoft put out a blog claiming it is “now shipping more enterprise telephone lines than any other technology company in the world.” It was a bold claim. So bold that longtime industry expert, Eric Krapf of No Jitter, felt compelled to investigate. One respected market watcher, Infonetics’ Diane Myers, told Krapf that her own research – which shows Cisco and Avaya neck-and-neck far above other rivals in telephony – made her “struggle” with Microsoft’s claims. When Krapf confronted Microsoft’s spokespeople, they admitted that Redmond’s claim to have shipped the most telephony lines was based on different data, revenue. As anyone familiar with software bundling knows, revenue alone can paint a deceptive picture.

However, revenue COMBINED with other data CAN be illuminating. While Microsoft and Cisco bicker, they are ignoring what’s really going on in the voice market. According to the well-known telecom market research firm, the Dell’Oro Group, Avaya passed Cisco in Q2 this year in telephony according to two key metrics. First, powered by growth in our small and midsized UC solution, IP Office, the number of telephone lines Avaya shipped grew 10% quarter/quarter to 1.8 million, while Cisco’s slipped for the 3rd-straight quarter, according to Dell’Oro:

dell oro total pbx shipments.JPG

Source: Dell’Oro Group

As a result, Avaya had a commanding lead of the global enterprise telephony market by revenue, both for Q2 2013:

Dell'Oro Global Enterprise Telephony Systems Q213 Rev Share.JPG


Actually, Avaya led Cisco by the same margin for all of calendar year 2012, too:


Dell'Oro Global Enterprise Telephony CY12 Rev Share.JPG


How come Microsoft’s nowhere to be found? We asked Alan Weckel, Vice President, Enterprise Telephony & Ethernet Switch Market Research at Dell’Oro and author of the report, who “confirmed that Dell’Oro Group does track Microsoft in the report. While Dell’Oro group does not break out Microsoft call control directly, based on the size of the remaining market, Microsoft would not be amongst the largest vendors on the charts.”

Why is Avaya gaining telephone users and increasing sales revenue? For a number of reasons:

1)The rock-solid quality of our flagship Avaya Aura platform (read how billion-dollar real estate firm Forest City Enterprises virtualized Avaya Aura software onto VMware and cut costs and increased reliability);

2)The cutting-edge advances in the Aura platform, including the new Collaboration Environment platform to enable developers to quickly build communications apps, and the Avaya Messaging Service that finally brings texting into the enterprise world (and supports any vendor’s system, even Cisco);

3)The quality and cost-competitiveness of Avaya IP Office;

4)The increasing attractiveness of IP Office 9.0 to the fast-growing mid-market segment;

Importantly, we see many customers that use the Microsoft Lync solution for IM and presence turning to Avaya for voice. Rather than deploying Lync software all the way or integrating with Cisco, hundreds of enterprises are trusting the Avaya Client Applications (ACA) plug-in, which offers scalability, ‘Five 9s’ of high-availability, technical features such as open call control, protection for your other communication investments, and tight integration with our contact center solution, which happens to be number one in the market according to Gartner.

Related article: Avaya’s New Wireless LAN 9100 Mutes the Sucking Sound of Network Downtime

ACA is not a tactical solution, either. Providing a comprehensive, open alternative for customers who wish to avoid vendor lock-in is part of the Avaya long-term strategy. Simply put, we want to be the best Lync integrator in the industry.

Lync software undoubtedly excels at IM and presence. But as Cisco Collaboration chief Rowan Trollope pointed out last week, IM and presence are last decade’s news. The future is things like enterprise-friendly text messaging (like Avaya Messaging Service) and open collaboration platforms that let businesses pick the best technologies for their needs.

So when you’re thinking about your UC solution, don’t think it’s only about Lync software vs. Cisco vs. Avaya. The telephone isn’t going away anytime soon. And if telephony is important to your business, the right solution might very well be a combination of a Lync client and Avaya.