When UC started out, it was a way to add value to how one did in-house telecommunications. Essentially you surrounded your telephony with the ability to tie in other applications, such as e-mail. Much of this was done by transitioning your phone infrastructure to VoIP so it could integrate with the computing infrastructure.
The cloud allowed us to take that IP migration to whole new level – right out of the building and into the cloud. For some that is a great approach, but phones and related communications are still your company’s lifeblood.
So what to do? Keep it all in-house where you can control the performance? Not so fast.
In a panel at Cloud4SMB in Las Vegas, UCass: Making UC Work for SMBs, panelists looked at pure cloud, in-house and hybrid and advised how to choose what is best for you.
A similar discussion was had on cloud deployments earlier in the week at ITEXPO, also in Las Vegas.
The panel included the trio of Dennis Schmidt, VP, Network and Systems, Shoretel, Bill Thomson, senior director, Product Management, CBeyond, and Howard Freidman (News - Alert) from HTML5 company Modus Create.
Picking the Right Way to do UCaaS
There are those that believe that a pure UCaaS approach doesn’t have the performance to offer reliable voice and related UC features. Just look at how problematic the Web alone can sometimes be.
One answer for demanding UCaaS installs is to have dedicated lines from the provider, and pick a provider that takes QoS seriously. But for large enterprises, this still may or may not be enough.
What is Hybrid all About?
Hybrid for UC is just like for any other app – you have some function in the cloud and some in-house. It can be set up so hand-picked functions, such as critical voice infrastructure, can be in-house while other items, such as collaboration, are hosted in the cloud. The cloud can also be used for bursting, where the cloud picks up the slack when on-premises runs out of steam. Or, all functions can be simply spread across the two.
How Does Hybrid Really Happen?
With UC, even when a customer thinks they are “all in the cloud”, they are likely really hybrid, just with a heavy cloud emphasis. Nearly 100% of shops will have physical phones, even if they are also virtual by virtue of IP. And you likely have gateways in-house. So you are probably hybrid even if you think you are all in the cloud.
In other cases, shops are reluctant to give up infrastructure that works, so call control stays on-premises. Other functions such as messaging are hosted in the cloud. and it is likely that new functions will be added on a cloud-first basis. A lot of times you are hybrid because you are really migrating to a new way, the cloud way, and just haven’t gotten there.
Quick Vendor Backgrounder
Cbeyond (News - Alert), now 14 years old has some 60,000 customers, mainly SMBs, for which the company provides communications and cloud services which are handled by Cbeyond data centers and network.
ShoreTel (News - Alert), meanwhile, offers UC that “brings together VoIP telephony, instant messaging, video conferencing, mobility, presence, and collaboration capabilities into a seamless business environment,” the company said. “Our on-premise business phone system with built-in unified communications (UC) lets both on-site and remote users see who is available at any given moment, and decide how best to reach them. With less time spent playing phone-tag (News - Alert), everyone has more time for the real business at hand.”
Finally, Modus is a consulting firm focused on HTML5 and other development technologies.