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Is UC Eliminating the Role of the Virtual PBX in the Enterprise Market?

October 26, 2011
By Beecher Tuttle, Virtual PBX Contributor

One of the general perceptions in the technology world is that the influx of next-generation communication tools will gradually lead to the extinction of all versions of the PBX including virtual. In an attempt to verify whether the death of the PBX is inevitable, research firm Gartner began looking at how enterprises are deploying Unified Communication technologies, and whether or not UC systems like Microsoft Lync are being used to completely replace PBXs.


The title of the report, "Microsoft Lync: The 'Death of the PBX' and Other Misconceptions," quite obviously gives away the results of the study. Gartner found that very few companies leverage comprehensive UC systems like Lync to entirely replace their existing PBXs. Rather, enterprises are relying on partial UC deployments, adding in tools like presence, instant messaging, collaborative workspaces and new conferencing technologies through a piecemeal approach.

In a passage of the report obtained by UCStrategies.com, Gartner researcher’s note, "Most (companies) that have implemented Lync have deployed it to support a subset of users, and have retained some or all (of) their PBXs for other users and functions."

The most opportune way "for enterprises interested in using Lync for telephony is to target those individuals where broader UC capabilities will be particularly useful," the report stated.

As UCStrategies's Marty Parker points out, UC technologies are adding value to the communications market, but they aren't completely killing off the enterprise PBX, at least not for years to come. The vast majority of companies still rely on PBXs for voice calling and contact center infrastructures, among other functions.

This fact makes even more sense when thinking about what UC truly is. Experts stress that UC should not be looked at as a collection of tools. Instead, it is a way of thinking about how the next-generation of communication capabilities can be organized to support business operations, workflows and processes that help build revenue and profit. As Gartner and Parker point out, the PBX can still have a key role for most companies in their business processes, albeit a much smaller one than 10 years ago.

Companies that are truly successful are those that identify business processes that can be aided by UC, and then select the specific technologies that optimize workflows and help them meet their goals.

The report also explores other misconceptions in the enterprise market, including the flawed view that systems like Lync need to completely displace PBXs for providers like Microsoft to succeed.


Beecher Tuttle is a virtual-pbx contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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