Cloud News & Insights

Unified Communications – Cloud-Based or On-Premise?

Man in suit holding up interconnected mobile devices

For anyone who has overlooked an enterprise communication system, managing unified communications takes the cake as far as the difficulty level is concerned. Handling various media streams, almost all of them in real time, is no easy task. Add to that the complexities of multicast and unicasting issues, video on demand, multiple conversations and you have a potent mix conducive to a first class headache.

Fortunately, moving unified communications to the cloud is making it simpler to manage such systems. Although premises-based systems are still the predominant systems deployed, this is primarily also due to the fact that such systems have a long exploitation period and no one is very willing to junk working technology.

Clients considering a new purchase are looking hard and long at cloud-based systems. Many are liking what they see and decisions do tilt in favor of the cloud. Here are some reasons why:

Accommodating Mobility – It is very easy to accommodate mobile users in a cloud-based unified communications portal. After all, with respect to the cloud every user is mobile – therefore, mobility for cloud-based systems is a given. For on-premise systems however, catering to mobile users means acquiring additional hardware. This is especially so if your system is a few years old.

Managing multiple locations – If your business operates from multiple locations, a cloud-based solution cuts down on interconnection costs. I have known multiple locations sharing the same incoming lines and receptionists. To your callers, the impression is of a unified campus – even though the offices may be in different cities. This is something that a premise-based call manager cannot achieve.

Technical skills – As I mentioned earlier, unified communications can be daunting to manage. With so many different services to integrate and support, you will either need to hire quality manpower or you will need external help and consultancy. Going in for a cloud-based communication system transfers the load of management to the cloud service provider, for most small and medium companies, this is the practical way out for their staffing issues.

Scalability and capacity swings – Many businesses experience very strong seasonal swings. Take the case of an online retailer during the holiday season. All of a sudden communication volumes can peak. Unless you have added adequate excess capacity (lying idle earlier), your clients will experience long hold times or congestion and could very well drop off the line. Cloud-based systems scale up and down effortlessly based on parameters you have defined in advance.

Disaster recovery and business continuity – A well-planned cloud-based solution can really come into its own. Companies have literally gone underwater in typhoons and emerged caked in mud, but as soon as employees and customers could access the internet, the cloud-based communication system was found functional. There are a number of redundancies built into the cloud and the very fact that it is located far away from your premises in carefully controlled environmental setting implies that it will be up and running whenever you need it most.

OpEx vs CapEx – Cloud-based communication is accounted for as operating expenses whereas an on premise system is accounted as capital expenditure. Most firms favor using OpEx. This means using cloud-based equipment.

Ultimately, the solution you use will depend on the needs that are critical to you and your business. The fact however remains that cloud based systems are now gradually taking over from on-premise hosted systems.

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About the Guest Author:

Sanjay SrivastavaSanjay Srivastava has been active in computing infrastructure and has participated in major projects on cloud computing, networking, VoIP and in creation of applications running over distributed databases. Due to a military background, his focus has always been on stability and availability of infrastructure. Sanjay was the Director of Information Technology in a major enterprise and managed the transition from legacy software to fully networked operations using private cloud infrastructure. He now writes extensively on cloud computing and networking and is about to move to his farm in Central India where he plans to use cloud computing and modern technology to improve the lives of rural folk in India.

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