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Written by
Katy Ratican
5 Jul 2022
6 minutes

Avaya vs Cisco phone systems: Which is better for business communication?

Comparing Avaya and Cisco phone systems for your business? Here are the key details you need to help make the right decision
Avaya vs Cisco phone systems

When selecting a new phone system for your business, Avaya and Cisco are two of the leading brands that you’ll come across. Both have unique product offerings and advantages. If you’re looking for a detailed Avaya versus Cisco phone systems comparison, here’s everything you need to know.

Both Avaya and Cisco are popular names in the Unified Communication or UC industry. A comparison of Avaya and Cisco phone systems will show that, although they have similar products, both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Comparing these solutions will help you figure out if they meet the requirements of your small business.

What is Avaya?

Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, Avaya has been developing products and helping in the digital transformation of some of the biggest companies in the world. Its client list includes over 95 per cent of Fortune 500 companies. The company was initially a part of AT&T and later Lucent, before becoming Avaya in 1995.

Avaya has established its presence in both the UC and contact centre spaces. Their VoIP phone system comes with a host of features that will benefit medium-sized and large enterprises. Companies use Avaya for everything from video conferencing to instant messaging. It also integrates well with other popular tools.

What is the Cisco phone system?

Cisco is a pioneer in the communication space, especially for large enterprises. Based in San Jose, California, this American multinational firm manufactures networking hardware for the internet. Cisco offers collaboration and communication services through its Unified Communications Manager.

Designed to unify communication irrespective of the device, Cisco’s phone system delivers secure and scalable solutions for enterprises. You can not just consolidate the system but also empower your phones with IP telephony. The phone system also gives you instant messaging, high-definition video and presence features.

Avaya vs Cisco: How these business phone systems compare

If you’re comparing Avaya and Cisco phone systems, it’s helpful to know who these systems are designed for. That would explain all other facets such as features, ease of use and pricing. While both Cisco and Avaya are built for companies looking for comprehensive UC solutions, there’s a fundamental difference in their target audiences.

Cisco is a solid choice for large businesses that want to create extensions for all their employees. The system comes with industry-leading features but those are suited for businesses with a high volume of calls from multiple extensions and those who need feature-rich systems with video for employees.

Due to the sheer scale of its product offerings, Cisco’s business phone systems might be complex for small businesses and startups. There may not be any need for its features. And it does take qualified technicians to maintain it.

Avaya scores in ease of use. Unlike Cisco or most of Avaya’s alternatives, you don’t need a large team of IT specialists or specific hardware. The initial investments and overhead expenses also tend to be low. This will help medium enterprises easily integrate the system.

Since it’s ‘plug and play,’ businesses don’t have to worry about their in-house IT capabilities. They can outsource their application and infrastructure services to Avaya. This simplifies operations and also saves costs.

Pricing: Which is the most cost-effective for small businesses?

If you’re a small business, pricing will be a key factor in the Avaya versus Cisco phone systems analysis. Avaya’s Essential Plan starts at $19.99, which can be used by a maximum of 20 users. The highest tier is priced at $49.99, which comes with unlimited storage.

The price for Cisco’s IP business phones ranges from $25 to $100 per month per user. The cost of the devices ranges from $500 to $2500. For more accurate pricing, businesses should contact Cisco.

Features: ​​Which is the most business-friendly?

Let’s now focus on features in our Avaya versus Cisco phone systems analysis. First, let’s look at the business tools that both offer.

Avaya phone business features

Cisco IP phone business features

Now let’s compare Avaya and Cisco on three key aspects that enterprises would need: consolidation, collaboration and contact centre.


Whether it’s IP telephony, instant messaging, high-definition video, presence features or unified messaging, with Cisco Communication Manager, large enterprises can easily consolidate their communication networks.

Avaya has Avaya Aura for large enterprises and IP Office for mid-sized and small businesses to help unify communication and improve productivity.


Cisco Spark is a cloud-based app that enables users to call, create, message and connect. Teams can collaborate on projects and engage on whiteboards.

Avaya Equinox has similar functionalities, although it’s designed for smaller enterprises. The app has team rooms and comes with video conferencing, audio conferencing, file sharing and instant messaging.

Contact centre

Large consumer-facing enterprises or medium-sized businesses that field hundreds of customer calls every day would need the services of a contact centre platform. Cisco’s contact centre solution can support thousands of customer service agents. It also has support for multi-channel campaigns and intelligent contact routing.

Avaya’s Aura Contact centre is noted for its ease of use. Agents can use its simple user interface to interact with customers on various channels including SMS, email, chat, email and more.

Avaya vs Cisco phone systems: Our verdict

If you’re a large enterprise with a substantial budget for both initial investments and monthly overheads, you can go with Cisco. If you’re a mid-sized business with the communication pressures of a large firm, Avaya is a safer bet.

Avaya vs Cisco vs Chalkboard: Introducing your new business phone system

As a small business owner, you should choose a phone system that has all the features you need and is flexible and affordable. That’s why entrepreneurs check for alternatives to big platforms like Avaya, Cisco or Mitel.

If you’re a small business, startup or solopreneur, Chalkboard is a smarter solution because it ticks all your boxes. It’s a second number for work that you can share with customers and in your marketing collateral without worrying about privacy.

Your team members can also share their numbers, which means that at least some of them will be there to take calls. This improves collaboration and customer service. But if your team members can’t take their calls, they can always respond through auto-reply and send pre-written messages.

You can organise contacts into groups and then broadcast messages to those groups. Chalkboard also gives you the power of advanced messaging to share marketing messages with your customers and manage their queries.

Finally, it’s exceptionally affordable because this is a virtual number app designed specifically for the needs of small businesses.

Download Chalkboard and try it now. What you get is a powerful communication and marketing platform for your small business.

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