There is no such thing as a free lunch

Cisco accepts that Jabber lacks key Lync features

Cisco is pushing Jabber really hard in the market.  From our perspective, they seem prepared to sacrifice the UI and user experience to lock you in to their hardware platform. Let’s look a little deeper into what the “free” offer is in comparison to the Lync Standard CAL licenses and isolate some of the more “creative”  comments from the recent Cisco YouTube video.

Cisco Jabber for everyone was announced a while back which basically promises that those with a “compatible”  Cisco Unified Communications Manager deployment can get free IM and Presence for everyone in the organization.  Sounds great or so it would appear.  If you don’t have a CUPS capable CUCM its upgrade time so beware.

Let’s look at what the Microsoft Lync Standard CAL is all about.  Lync Standard CAL is bundled with Core CAL Suite.  So nearly everyone with a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement already owns the Core CAL.  Yes – you already own Lync licences!

Lync Standard Cal features (available in the licensing guide):


So how does “Jabber for everyone” compare to the Standard CAL?


Features not supported in the Cisco Jabber offer are:

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Desktop sharing
  • Options for phone configuration

So for these parts not included there is an upgrade you can purchase. You will need either UCL Advanced or UWL Standard or above, to add these missing features on the desktop. Which according to the No Jitter article the UCL Advanced license will set you back $295 per user.  According to the Cisco Licensing guide if you want these on your mobile device you will need UWL Premium or UWL Pro.  Again according to the No Jitter article list for both of these start at $415 and $500 respectively. Also the amount of devices varies between licenses so best to understand that as well. Not looking so free now is it?

Before you can begin evaluating a UC offer, first you must understand your requirements today and into the future. If you have a future that includes BYOD, mobile workers, softphones, desktop video, web conferencing, audio conferencing etc,etc a free offer such as this is probably not going to work for you. Instead, you are more than likely going to have to remove the client if you decide down the road that’s it’s not really the direction you want to head down. So understanding your requirements is a critical piece of any UC decision along with pulling together the right resources whether it be engineering or key business decision makers etc.

What is Cisco willing to admit to?


at Cisco recorded an interesting session titled the Real Story Behind Cisco and Microsoft interoperability. The key message from this 18 minute video is fear Microsoft Lync and hug your Cisco investment long and hard.  There are some really interesting things that that Cisco admits to here.

Direct SIP connection is the most common way used to do interoperability and provides the best UI experience.

Why? Because companies want to the UI experience of Lync.  What Cisco fails to mention here are other factors that lead companies to Lync such as federation, web conferencing and the ROI of on-premise audio conferencing with Lync.

The negatives they mention are plain silly. They are assuming no one is smart enough to work in a multi-vendor environment. Things like dual call admission control and and dial plans.  Big whoop – this is not that difficult.  In fact, if you have more than one CUCM cluster you already have dual dial plans and if you have a Cisco VCS with CUCM you most likely are already dealing with dual CAC for video and voice. So they use their own complexity as weapon against Lync which doesn’t require dual dial plans for multiple pools or different CAC policies for video. So well done to Cisco for using their own complexities to scare your customers.

CUCiLync’s UI experience is poor.

In general, companies are drawn to Microsoft Lync’s easy to use UI.  Plugins devalue that experience. At least Cisco is willing to admit that CUCiLync’s experience is poor at best.

With Jabber you lose key Lync capabilities.

You loose advanced Lync features with Jabber but Cisco didn’t tell you the whole story. Below are some of the advanced features not mentioned:

  • Outlook Web Access IM and Presence and in 2013 the ability to schedule a Lync conference
  • Desktop share, audio and video across federated partners and public IM. If you take a look at the federation directory created by Matt Landis there are 10K+ companies that are doing federation today.  This mimics the public telephone network!
  • Skype federation with Lync 2013
  • · Advance Office integration
    • SharePoint skills search
    • Exchange Distribution Lists
    • Rich presence beyond the four states offered by Jabber
    • E911
    • In call device selection

Ad-hoc conferencing is a lesser experience on Jabber than Lync

The scheduled meeting experience is pretty average.  Confusing about either a Jabber plugin for scheduled meetings or if you need WebEx for that.


In the end if you’re willing to sacrifice productivity to protect your Cisco hardware investment, maybe Jabber is for you. But if you truly interested in productivity with better connectivity and relationships with your partners and customers through federation then maybe Lync is more your thing.

(Call out to VoIPNorm for the foundation of this article –