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The next phase of EOS aims to help customers migrate from legacy
environments to private, public, and hybrid cloud networks.

Credit: Thinkstock

One of the fundamental tenets to my research has always been that significant share gain opportunities happen during market transitions. New markets require new ways of thinking and different approaches, even in mature markets. This is how Arista Networks could enter the switching market and go from an idea to over $4 billion in market cap in just over 10 years.

Here’s my take on how unified communications will shape up this year.

Happy New Year, fellow UCers. We’re more than halfway through January now, which means the NFL playoffs are well under way, tax season is looming, and it’s time for my annual predictions.

1. UC gains momentum with line-of-business (LOB) managers
Despite the strong value proposition to end users, UC has primarily remained an IT purchase. In 2016, however, LOB managers will start purchasing UC services directly. This will become especially easy with the maturation of UCaaS offerings. In addition, UC vendors are now orienting their strategies around selling “business outcomes.” In the past, if a UC vendor had an opportunity to meet with a C-level executive or LOB manager, it wouldn’t have had anything to say — but now it does. As Cisco and Microsoft jockey for the No. 1 position, the LOB adoption of UC will create opportunities for other vendors to penetrate these top accounts.

With the sale to Atos complete, Unify is ready to start a new
chapter — one largely written around its Circuit collaboration tool.

The year isn’t even a month old and we’ve already had a flurry of analyst events and sales conferences — last week, Polycom and Fortinet, and this week, Unify. In Unify’s case, the timing coincides with the completion of the company’s sale to Atos SE. With the sale’s closing, the next chapter opens in the long history of the company formerly known as Siemens.

Earlier this week I had a chance to discuss the new beginning with Unify executives Bill Hurley, CMO, and Uwe Hermanns, vice president of global product marketing. For starters, Hurley walked me through the numbers, and with Unify apparently on much better ground than it had previously been — its financial situation bottomed out in third quarter of fiscal 2014 — the acquisition is well timed.

The acquisition will help Riverbed
speed up its plan for the SD-WAN market.

Riverbed has been the market leader and de facto standard in WAN optimization for well over a decade. When Riverbed first launched its flagship product, Steelhead, the company took off like a rocket, proving to be a panacea to almost all private WAN woes. In fact, one network manager once described Riverbed to me as “network crack,” meaning once you get a taste of it, you need to continually get more.

However, times have changed and more and more organizations are evolving to SD-WANs. This doesn’t obviate the need for WAN optimization, but it certainly shifts the emphasis to other technologies. The SD-WAN space has been filled with startups because the traditional vendors, like Riverbed, were slow to come to market with solutions.

Last year at the ONUG event, Riverbed unveiled Project Tiger, its multi-step journey to a market-leading SD-WAN solution, with the first phase due in mid 2016.

With Clariti, Polycom offers its RealPresence
collaboration tool for cloud-like pricing.

Credit: Polycom via Facebook

Last week, Polycom held its annual channel partner event, TEAM Polycom, in Nashville. The theme of the event was “Changing the Game,” which in Polycom’s case is actually a triple entendre. Polycom is hoping the event is a springboard to put it in a position to punch back and regain some of the share it lost to arch-rival Cisco, give its channel partners the ability to accelerate sales, and enable customers to use its technology as a core component of their digital strategies by creating new ways of collaborating and working (disclosure: Polycom and Cisco are both clients of ZK Research).

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