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Worried About Cisco’s BroadSoft Buy? Don’t Be, and Here’s Why

Telephone PBX
Evolve IP's Scott Kinka

Scott Kinka

By Scott Kinka, Chief Technology Officer, Evolve IP

On the opening morning of its Connections conference, BroadSoft execs dropped a bomb: Cisco had agreed to acquire the cloud UC software and services provider. The interwebs immediately caught fire. [Editor’s note: Guilty as charged.]

The commentary that followed on Twitter, LinkedIn, tech message boards and in industry (tech and channel) publications ranged from slightly self-serving, to moderately alarmist, to downright irresponsible.

Take a breath.

Here’s my view: The company largely credited with powering and securing the Internet (Cisco) and the company that helped pioneer communications over the internet (BroadSoft) have decided to come together. It’s complicated, it’s interesting, and to me, it’s a good-news story. My company, Evolve IP, has been a very large customer and partner of both Cisco and BroadSoft for more than 10 years, and I have some thoughts around the hyperbole and commentary stemming from the acquisition news.

True or False: “This is the death knell for premises-based PBXs!”

Verdict: Maybe. But not tomorrow.

Avaya’s bankruptcy difficulties and Cisco’s purchase of a born-in-the-cloud UC software leader certainly demonstrate that the hardware PBX tide has turned. But according to Frost and Sullivan’s most recent North American Hosted IP Telephony and UCaaS Market Forecast, hosted IPT and UCaaS currently make up only 9.9 percent of the U.S. addressable market — and likely significantly less worldwide. With an annual expected CAGR of between 20 and 30 percent year over year for the foreseeable future, cloud wins the sales war. On-premises companies will have to change strategy. But the game is not yet over, and there is plenty of territory to be won for every type of offering.

True or False: “This is a validation of the ‘built on open source/in-house’ model.”  

Verdict: False

First off, nothing is built 100-percent in-house. Every popular platform leverages SIP stacks, media servers, SBCs and UC platforms that are both paid for and open source. Somewhere, under the covers, is someone else’s code. It may be deep, but it’s there.

However, proprietary brews of open-source software have been shown to create interoperability challenges (also noted by Frost and Sullivan in the paper mentioned above). As it relates to UCaaS, proprietary + open source can and has meant scale and geography challenges and enterprise support issues. Makers of these platforms would argue that they are quicker and more nimble at addressing customer requirements. Consider that BroadSoft is based on standards and open APIs too, but it is supported by a community of application providers with deep integrations at the ready, and service providers, like Evolve IP, that have invested millions in creating valuable IP that sits on top of BroadSoft’s stable underpinnings.

Lastly, consider that several of these open-source platforms are very publicly “exploring strategic options,” even as we speak. Cisco, with a massive enterprise base, could have picked any of them, but …

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