Cisco vs. Avaya vs. Mitel: How the 3 Leaders in IP Call Systems Compare

Cisco vs. Avaya vs. Mitel
When it comes to your IP call system, there are three main companies to consider.

There are three main players in the call system sphere:  Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel.

All three provide solutions for communication needs, including capabilities for calls, voicemail, video, messaging, cloud, etc. 

How Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel operate and meet your collaboration needs depends on what services or products you’re looking for and which brand you choose. 

Four main ways the providers differ are:

  1. Company overviews, including ratings, revenue, and business models
  2. Customer preference toward Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel stems from varying the interfaces and support 
  3. The price for Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel call systems    
  4. Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel – in most cases – have different technology partners.

Although The KR Group is a Cisco partner, this article will honestly and transparently look at how Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel operate and help you identify which telecommunications company is the best fit for you. 

For the purposes of this article, we’ve listed the companies in the order we recommend them. Ultimately, you know your organization and your needs best, and we hope you use all of this information to help you make the best decision for your business.

1.   Company overview for Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel look and operate differently; they are separate businesses, after all.

Cisco’s company information

Cisco is the largest of the three companies with 73,000 employees working for them across the globe.

Size doesn’t affect its employee ratings, though. According to Fortune, Cisco is #6 on the list of the 100 best companies to work for in 2019.

Employee ratings on Glassdoor also give Cisco high praise, and the company has an average approval rating of 4.1 out of 5, which is higher than Avaya and Mitel.

Cisco has the most revenue out of the three companies as well; they brought in $51.9 billion in the 2019 fiscal year.

Avaya’s company information

With about 8,700 employees, Avaya is smaller than Cisco but larger than Mitel.

It also finds itself in the middle when it comes to employee ratings and had 3.4 stars from Glassdoor

Financially, Avaya had $2.851 billion of revenue at the end of the 2018 fiscal year. However, in January 2017, the company found itself filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reduce its $6.3 billion of debt.

Mitel’s company information

Mitel is the smallest of the three companies. IT has 4,200 employees and had more than $1.3 billion in revenue in 2018.

They’re also on the bottom when it comes to employee ratings and only received 2.9 stars on Glassdoor.

If you base your decision solely based on company information, Cisco outperforms Avaya and Mitel.  However, there are more factors you may want to consider when deciding which telecommunications company to use.

2.   Customer preference among Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel

Support and user experience are important when you’re considering implementing a technology you and your company will rely on every day.

On Gartner Peer Insights, reviewers ranked the three companies almost identical for support and product capabilities, including interoperability.

 Cisco offers the best support.

Cisco had a slight edge with 4.3 stars for service and support; Avaya and Mitel were tied with 4.2 stars for product capabilities.

Beyond the Gartner rankings, because of their size, Cisco’s support is a bit more exhaustive then Avaya’s and Mitel’s.

While Avaya’s and Mitel’s cornerstones are in the telecommunications field, Cisco has products in a variety of technology fields.

In addition to having Cisco software for your IP communications, you’ll likely incorporate Cisco hardware into your IT environment for communications — and other IT needs if you desire. 

From a support standpoint, relying on Cisco for multiple products makes troubleshooting your Cisco call system (or any software/hardware) simple. If a problem arises with your call system that isn’t related to its hardware and software, there is an easy handoff to the other Cisco tech divisions who can troubleshoot the other Cisco systems in your network. 

If you are using Cisco products from the licensing, desk phone, gateway, server, etc., Cisco can direct you to support elsewhere in their company.

If you are using Avaya or Mitel call system licenses and phones, if the problem is with another component of your technology used for communications, you’ll have more of an indirect path to a solution.

Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel: Best user experience depends on your preferences

For interoperability/integration, Gartner Peer Insights reviewers gave Cisco 4.3 starts, Mitel 4.2 stars, and Avaya 4.1 stars.

Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel all offer different user experiences that do the same thing. They all have call, video, voicemail, cloud, and messaging capabilities. They just implement the features differently.

Like the infamous debate of Android vs. Apple, it boils down to your personal preference. Once you decide which option you want to go with (whether it’s based on price, user experience, business model, or some other reason) and start using it, you’ll learn how to navigate the user-interface and utilize all of the features.

Not too long ago, none of us were using smartphones, and now, whether you’re on Apple’s or Android’s side, you know how to use all of your phone’s features but likely stumble through the interface of the competitors.

With call systems, if you decide to switch among Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel you’ll have to get over a learning curve, but once you use the new system, you’ll become acclimated to the new user interface. 

3.   The price of a Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel call system varies based on the customer.

How much you’ll spend on Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel depends on your business needs. Each company customizes its solution to fit with your business’ size, so it’s impossible to tell you how much you’ll spend or whose solution will be always cost the most.

You can read more about the cost of BE6K, one of Cisco call system solutions, in our learning center or reach out to a Cisco partner. Likewise, Avaya and Mitel partners will provide you with a better estimate.

Avaya: Charges for back support

Without knowing how each company customizes a solution, the only pricing point you that definitively sets Avaya apart is they charge for back support.

That means when you re-activate the ongoing support contract after letting it lapse, Avaya’s cost to do so include not only the new contract term but also the entire period of the lapse.

For example, if you purchased a 1-year support contract as a re-activation of your support with Avaya, but that support had lapsed for 3 years, the quote for the 1-year support contract would cost the same as a 3-year support contract.

Mitel: Charges a re-enlistment fee

If you let Mitel’s support lapse, you won’t have to pay for back support like with Avaya. However, you are charged a re-enlistment fee. This typically costs around 20% of a 1-year contract of standard support.

In addition to the re-enlistment fee, Mitel also requires you to subscribe for a minimum of 1 year of support.

Cisco: Pick right up where you left off

If you let your support lapse with Cisco, though, while we don’t recommend it, you can pick up right where you left off when you re-enroll in a one-year minimum contract of Cisco SmartNet.

4.   Different partners offer different products.

Cisco vs Avaya vs Mitel
Cisco doesn’t penalize you if your SmartNet contract lapses.

If you’re committed to implementing Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel, you’ll have to utilize one of their partners.

Typically, your technology partner specializes in one manufacturer per product. For example, your partner will likely sell Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel, not two or three of the options.

If you’re looking to compare the prices, this means you’ll have to go to different partners to see how they compare for your specific situation, and you may find you enjoy working with a specific partner.

In fact, Cisco found during their value proposition process that the majority of customers choose their products because they liked the technology partner they were working with.

How to choose

When considering implementing a call system from Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel, you might find yourself swayed by their company information, customer experience, price, or their local partner’s service.

How you weigh company-specific information, different interfaces, and the price of collaboration software will determine whether you partner with Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel.

However, we think, overall, Cisco does the best with all three categories. 

As a Cisco partner, we can answer more questions related to Cisco collaboration products, and we encourage you to review our other articles: 

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