Your organization is moving to cloud collaboration and communications. There is a good chance that you are using or considering one or more of the market leaders, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex.
The Unified Communications market has been highly innovative and competitive, but in 2023, the reality is in most ways these solutions are similar. They all offer chat, collaboration, meetings, webinars, events, and phone as a cloud service. We could write a blog comparing the three feature for feature, but 90% of it would be the same or similar. Even when they differ on specific features, they are all constantly adding features and reducing feature gaps between each other.
So, what are some of the differences you should be aware of and consider?
1. Cisco has a portfolio of first party devices
Cisco is unique in that it provides a complete portfolio of first part hardware for users, from headsets to phones to whole room systems as well as the platform. One vendor to work with for both your software and hardware needs.
Zoom and Microsoft rely on certified ecosystem vendors for hardware solutions meaning you have to decide which OEM vendor or vendors you are going to go with for your devices and understand how their support model works.
2. Zoom and Cisco have native Contact Center options
Most organisations have a Contact Center requirement, often both internal (think IT help desk) and customer facing. Zoom and Webex both have native Contact Center solutions, meaning you can choose to have one vendor for both your internal communications and collaboration and your contact center.
Zoom Contact Center is a cloud-based contact center solution that helps businesses deliver a better customer experience. It offers a variety of features that can help businesses improve their customer service, including Omnichannel support, Automated workflows and analytics tools. Zoom Virtual Agent adds a Conversational AI and Chatbot Solution.
Webex Contact Center is recognised by Gartner. It’s an omnichannel solution supporting chat, text, email, social and calling. Cisco has a strong heritage in the Contact Center space and is the number one for market share of cloud / hosted contact centres and their solution is certified for integration with Microsoft Teams.
Good news, if you go with Webex or Zoom, Pure IP can provide global telephony for both your users and your contact center.
3. Microsoft and Cisco offer CPaaS
CPaaS, or Communications Platform as a Service, is a cloud-based service that enables businesses and developers to integrate real-time communication features into their applications, websites, or services without the need to build and maintain their own communication infrastructure.
By leveraging APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), CPaaS providers offer a range of communication tools, such as voice, video, messaging, and chat, which can be easily integrated into existing systems. Webex offers this option and while Microsoft doesn’t have it in Teams, it has Azure Communications Services, which is the foundation of Microsoft Teams, but offered as a CPaaS service.
If you are wanting to integrate voice, video and messaging into your line of business applications, having a CPaaS option is a real benefit. And if you intend to integrate solutions that span customer facing scenarios and the back office, being on the same platform for UCaaS and CPaaS can have real benefits.
4. Microsoft Teams is tightly integrated into Office 365
No surprises here. Microsoft Teams is built directly on the foundations of Office 365, leveraging Office 365 groups and SharePoint. It’s tightly integrated into everything Office 365, so it probably not the right choice if you don’t plan to use Office 365. If you do have Office 365 you are likely already licenced for some functionality in Microsoft Teams. Being on one platform for Email, Office, UC and collaboration has some user experience and management benefits.
Webex and Zoom also integrate with Office 365, so you don’t need to rule them out, but it’s worth checking out the experiences side by side.
5. Microsoft Teams has the most complicated licensing
Microsoft Teams can be bought standalone in a version called Essentials, but it’s much more likely you will buy it as part of Office 365. With Zoom and Webex, you can head to their website and pick from few different options that bundle all the features.
With Microsoft Teams you must understand what comes with your Office 365 SKU and then what you want to add-on. Add-ons include, Teams Phone, PSTN Audio Conferencing, Teams Rooms Basic and Pro, Teams Premium and if you want extra security and governance features you will need one of Microsoft’s security suites.
While Microsoft Teams has an impressive range of features, it’s not the easiest product to understand from a licensing perspective. If you need help understanding your license requirements for a Microsoft Teams UC Project, our solutions team can help.
6. Zoom offers mail and calendar
No longer an exclusive benefit of going Microsoft Office 365. Zoom recently added Zoom Mail and Zoom Calendar, moving towards a more complete productivity suite. Zoom Mail and Zoom Calendar service is included with Zoom Pro, and Zoom United Pro plans as well as with specific Zoom One licenses.
If you are looking at Webex you will need to also have an email and calendar service, likely Google G-suite or Office 365.
7. Zoom has an On-Premises deployment option
While all 3 providers are cloud native solutions, Zoom On-Premises deployment option allows organizations to deploy meeting connector virtual machines within their internal company network. In doing so, user and meeting metadata are still managed in the Zoom public cloud. However, all meeting traffic (video, voice, in-meeting chat, and data sharing) is hosted in the organization's private cloud through the On-Premises Meeting Connector, Virtual Room Connector, and Recording Connector.
This can be useful if you want to optimise your media paths for large meetings where all users are well connected to the organisations data center or you want to keep meeting media in your network for security reasons.
Adding Phone and Phone numbers to Zoom, Webex and Teams
Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Webex all offer cloud phone systems with telephony services and phone numbers. They offer phone numbers and service directly as well as partnering with certified telephony providers to offer more options and coverage for customers. This is Pure IP’s area of expertise.
Pure IP are a certified provider for Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Webex. Meaning we can provide cloud native telephony for all these platforms, or even combinations of them if that is what your organisation requires.
Zoom Phone Provider Exchange is Zoom’s program for certified partners. Microsoft’s is Operator Connect, where we have the most coverage of any Operator Connect provider, and Webex’s is Cloud Connect for Webex Calling. We are a fully certified provider and partner for all three.
In all cases you get the same great native user experience on these platforms, with telephony powered by Pure IP’s award winning global PSTN network.
Working with customers on all 3 major UCaaS platforms, we are well positioned to advise you on your UC journey and help you maximise your investment in cloud communications.