Enterprise SBCs - The Race is On

Convergence Corner

Enterprise SBCs - The Race is On

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  September 30, 2014

With the continued growth of both SIP trunking and unified communications, it’s hardly surprising to have seen the enterprise SBC market grow in parallel. In fact, the market has grown steadily not only in terms of customers, but also vendors, with well more than a dozen players in a space that not long ago held only a small handful. On its way to a projected $1.6 billion by 2018, the market reached $65 million in the second quarter of this year, according to Infonetics Research. Not surprisingly, the top tier of players, according to Infonetics, includes Cisco, AudioCodes, Sonus, and Oracle (News - Alert), with Ingate and Edgewater following closely in the second tier.

A few things stand out in the latest report, including Alcatel-Lucent being pulled out from the “Others”, presumably growing in market share enough to warrant its own pie piece – which is no trivial pursuit in this growing market. The question remains whether this is but a flash in the pan or if ALU can sustain growth and become a major player. It appears that Infonetics is waiting as well, before adding it to the so-called second tier.

More interesting are AudioCodes (News - Alert) and Sonus, which seem to be slugging it out for much of the available business. Each has gained significant market share in the past year, with AudioCodes effectively doubling its share in the past year, including market-leading growth of 35 percent in the second quarter. Along with Acme Packet (News - Alert) (Oracle), the two are the recognizable names among Microsoft’s E-SBC partners. It shouldn’t be surprising, when you consider the relationship AudioCodes has built with Microsoft and its recent announcements around integration with Microsoft products, including One Voice for Lync (its complete product and service portfolio designed to simplify Lync deployment and use), One Box (News - Alert) 365 (a turnkey Lync solution for Office 365 users), and One Voice Operations Center (a suite of Lync management applications for the One Voice ecosystem).

AudioCodes’ Vice President of Marketing Nimrod Borovsky, while quick in his acknowledgement that the relationship with Microsoft has been a key driver, also points out that AudioCodes has built a reputation as “the easy choice, because we leverage the exact same software across our entire line, so even the lower-end platforms have the same features as the high-end.” 

One Box 365, for instance, also includes AudioCodes’ SBC code, making it an easy way for integrators to bring Lync unified communications to Office 365 shops – which also seem to be growing steadily. That, along with the network management capabilities of One Voice Operations Center, makes a compelling case for integrators who, as Borovsky explains, don’t like to do too much integration, but would rather work with a one-stop shop with the integration already done.

Further to AudioCodes’ benefit is the large ecosystem of partners it has built. Borovsky doesn’t hesitate to point out that the company’s success, while largely driven of late by Microsoft, wouldn’t be where it is without partners like Interactive Intelligence, Genesys, BroadSoft (News - Alert), and the dozens of other technology partners it has nurtured over the years (the list reads like a who’s who of communications).

Between the interop work and expanded portfolio, Borovsky notes the market is seeing AudioCodes as a serious competitor, whereas only three years ago the company would have been considered an “SBC wannabee” by many.

Well, three years ago much of the market would have been considered such, but the multi-faceted benefits of E-SBCs have helped build the product category from what most would have considered a two-horse race to a full field. As many predicted, Oracle wasted little time losing market share, as it is clearly focusing on the high end of the market, which Borovsky believes is the source of much of AudioCodes’ significant growth. The same can likely be said for Sonus, which, while having its roots in the service provider market, has reinvented its attention to its enterprise business. Cisco, too, has lost some of its share, and though it retains the overall market lead, I’ve noted previously that Cisco’s market share is kind of like Pepsi’s share of soft drink sales at NFL stadiums – you just don’t have a choice.

“We are seeing Oracle on the decline, and we are taking a big chunk of that business,” says Borovksy. “AudioCodes, Sonus, and probably two or three others are competing for that share, and the majority of our increase comes from where Acme Packet is falling short delivering on customer expectations.”

If the trend continues, Oracle and Cisco may find themselves boxed in, while AudioCodes and Sonus could be on pace to go head-to-head down the home stretch.

Edited by Maurice Nagle