InfoTrack for Software Services

As the value of business communications solutions shifts from hardware to software, manufacturers and their channel partners are seeking to understand the approaches being taken across the industry to price and support the software-based elements of communications solutions. Manufacturers tell us that they are concerned not only with developing new offers that are competitive, but also with the impact of any new pricing structures on their existing clients. In response to these needs and concerns, InfoTrack for Software Services (ISS) was created.

ISS addresses the full range of Unified Communications offers, from telephony call control to multi-media messaging and mobile applications. The program currently profiles offers from Microsoft, Cisco, NEC and Avaya. Other manufacturers can be included based upon customer input.

ISS is published once per year, usually in the third quarter. Subscribers receive a report that focuses on six key dimensions:

1. Software Acquisition

  • Purchase options, including bundles, structures and description of bundled content, as well as ala carte options
  • Pricing, pricing structure and discounts, including comparison of bundled vs. standalone prices
  • Key terms and conditions

2. Warranty Coverage

  • Length of warranty period and standard support entitlements
  • Options for enhanced warranty/premium support and associated entitlements

3. Software Assurance Service Support

  • Prerequisites to qualify for support
  • Bundles (e.g., packaged hardware and software support)
  • Contract terms and conditions
  • Software assurance service elements including problem resolution processes, customer tools, other support services such as auto upgrades, deployment support, training, etc.
  • Application-specific options for post-warranty support

4. Software Assurance Pricing and Payment Options

  • Pricing structure (e.g., per port, application, system, user, site and enterprise)
  • List prices and volume discounts
  • Single year vs. multi-year contracts and associated incentives
  • Monthly vs. annual pre-payment options and associated incentives
  • Contract renewal terms and conditions, including renewal notification process

5. Lifecycle Operational Support

  • Application enablement and upgrade process
  • Administration of upgrades and maintenance releases
  • Web-based and call-in support capabilities (e.g., access to maintenance releases)
  • Policies for transferring licenses among locations, divisions, plus premises vs. hosted
  • Global offers versus regional approaches

6. Channels

  • Policies regarding manufacturer-provided vs. channel-provided Tier 1 support
  • Tier II, III and IV channel support offers, including dealer incentives
  • Channel partner responsibilities and obligations

ISS is comprised of three elements, the first two of which are delivered during the third quarter, with the third provided on an ongoing basis throughout the year:

1. Detailed analysis of competitive offers, including:

  • Side-by-side comparison of manufacturers’ offers on dimensions profiled above
  • Comparison of total cost of ownership (TOC) for 200 and 1,000 user configurations
  • Emerging software-related trends and evolving best practices in the industry
  • Assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each offer

2. Complete written description of each manufacturer’s offer

3. Ongoing alerts that provide subscribers with real-time updates on major changes to software offers from profiled providers

A subscription to ISS enables clients to…

  • Obtain an in depth picture of the continuing evolution of the software model
  • Understand best practices for both packaging and offering software as well as support
  • Compare offers in many categories against those from the competition and industry best practices
  • Gain insight into the typical terms and conditions associated with the software model
  • Confidently set prices to effectively position offers in the market
  • Gauge customer willingness to comply with various terms and conditions
  • Recognize the ways in which the software model impacts relationships with resellers
  • Ascertain if domestic terms and conditions will be transferrable to global markets


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