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Framework for Assessing Communications TCO

A complete framework for assessing TCO describes the communications capabilities required by an organization and then decomposes these capabilities into common components required to deliver the required capabilities.  The component costs to support each capability can then be modeled and the total cost to support the full solution understood.  Some costs will be acquisition costs, incurred at the beginning of deployment or shortly thereafter, and others will be recurring costs.  To capture the relative impact of both initial and recurring costs, TCO assessments must be made over multiple years.  To this end, the following discussions of TCO are all based on a 3-year time frame.

Communications Capabilities

Any evaluation of TCO for business communications must include the following capabilities, which customers are seeking to integrate into their environments today:

Voice includes telephony-related functions and infrastructure, including PBXs/IP-PBXs, telephony gateways, telephone handsets, and any other infrastructure or operational roles related to maintaining telephony.   

Audio Conferencing includes on-premise telephone and audio conference bridges.

Video Conferencing includes desktop video solutions.

Web Conferencing includes application or document sharing.

Instant Messaging and Presence includes rich presence controls and display and the ability to send real-time text messages to others.

Delivering these capabilities requires customers to acquire both infrastructure and end user software, multiple types of hardware, associated support contracts, implementation services, and network services, and to manage the communications infrastructure on a continuing basis.

Components of TCO for Enterprise Communications

To deliver on all of the required communications capabilities, organizations must invest in and maintain the following types of equipment and support processes:


Devices include telephony handsets and other voice or video devices used in the organization.  Most organizations today provide the majority of employees with a dedicated handset.  High-end devices, typically allocated to executives or sales functions, can list for $800 per device.  Mid-range devices for typical Information Workers represent the majority of devices across the organization and list for $400-600, while low-end devices for manufacturing facilities, staff, and common area phones have list prices of $200.  Given the range in functions and voice usage, most organizations select a mix of different devices,

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