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Measuring TCO


Many factors come into play when considering total cost of ownership (TCO) for a voice messaging solution. Unfortunately, many of these factors are often overlooked during initial evaluation, resulting in a higher than expected total cost over time. Servers and user licenses are often considered the only impacts to TCO. However, costs associated with system integration, deployment, and maintenance also play a critical role in determining your TCO.

Let’s first take a look at integration costs and capabilities. For many organizations out there, it’s a requirement for a new voice messaging system to integrate with the existing PBX and voicemail system.  Without the integration, the new messaging system could not provide its full set of features and the old system would have to be completely replaced in order for everything to integrate properly. Talk about a potential TCO landmine! Furthermore, flexible migration options from one voicemail system to the next need to be considered, in case you don’t want to rip and replace your current system and want to migrate site-by-site over time. Without integration and migration flexibility in your new voice messaging system, you might want to rethink your plans.

Your choice of message store is another factor that can greatly affect TCO. You should first determine whether you’ll be using a separate message store for voice and email messages (integrated messaging) or a single store for both (unified messaging)?  See Dan Jordan’s blog for a discussion of the merits of each type of deployment. A unified messaging deployment may involve costly and time-consuming integrations with email and directory schema, increasing your TCO.  Also, how scalable is your message store – will you need to buy extra servers that you hadn’t considered in your initial TCO calculation?  What about redundancy – where can you locate your backup server and how many will you need? Linux or Windows – there are differences in costs, uptime, patches and management that you should consider in your TCO calculation.

If you’re familiar with Cisco’s voice messaging solutions, you have probably realized that I’m leading you towards Cisco Unity Connection.  This solution addresses many of your TCO concerns, whether the costs are obvious or hidden. The Linux appliance, integrated messaging, active-active redundancy, enterprise-class scalability, and support for integrations with legacy equipment are all features that reduce complexity, maintenance efforts, and costs. Cisco Unity Connection is the voice messaging solution designed with TCO in mind.

But this is only part of the story.  Now it’s your turn.  How do you calculate TCO?  What factors do you consider and over what period of time?  Share your critical components of TCO with the community!


Patricia Chu, Product Manager, Unified Communications Business Unit 

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