7 Reasons to Consider Cloud-based Unified Communications Services

nec-7-reasons-to-consider-hosted-uc1The productivity benefits of Unified Communications (UC) continue to be recognized as it moves into mainstream adoption. As organizations consider how best to deploy, there are a number of factors to consider.  This post focuses on the top reasons to consider Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).  UCaaS capabilities, also known as hosted or cloud-based UC, include the features found in premises-based IP telephony, as well as presence, integrated audio and web conferencing, mobility, collaboration, video solutions, and business application integration features all delivered as a service.

The benefits of UCaaS go above and beyond simply shifting costs from a capital expense to a predictable operating expense.  Here are our top 7 reasons to consider hosted UC solutions:

1.       Business Agility

Many IT organizations are stretched too thin and struggle to balance day-to-day operations with strategic projects.  One of the advantages of UCaaS is the speed of deployment.  Businesses have the flexibility to rollout UCaaS without the IT time and resource commitments associated with a legacy deployment model. Additionally, maintenance and support time is reduced as there is no longer the need to plan and implement system updates.  UCaaS offers quick updating through the cloud, so a business can choose to deploy new applications to all users or a single department as soon as they become available. This gives an IT department greater flexibility with their communications system, as upgrades can be rolled-out without any disruption to the system.

2.       Increased Efficiencies

Hosted UC services provide business customers with the communications they need without the associated capital costs of traditional on-premises systems and the costs associated with management and support. This increases both budgetary and IT resource efficiencies. With a lower budget barrier to entry, businesses can avoid the upfront capital outlay with UCaaS. Additionally, the predictable monthly expense allows businesses to plan more efficiently. A hosted UC solution can also increase IT efficiencies as there is no need to support and maintain a physical systems on-premises.  Eliminating a number of time consuming tasks for IT folks allows the organization to focus resources on core competencies and provide strategic value to grow the business.

Having your communications solution in the cloud helps avoid technology obsolescence and the time and resources associated with a large scale “technology refresh.” Why? Because cloud-based communications give you a system that scales quickly and is flexible enough to grow alongside your ever-changing business.

3.       Increased Reliability

Hosted UC providers power their UCaaS offerings via the cloud. The best providers have secure and resilient data centers that are redundantly configured and geographically separated to ensure continued service in the event of catastrophic events and Service Level Agreements that provide uptime guarantees. Each organization’s data and user settings are backed up and mirrored in multiple locations, creating a disaster-proof backbone for your business communications.  Hosted UC providers also offer 24×7 monitoring, as well as the latest encryption and security protocols, so you can rest assured that your data is safe and secure.

4.       Disaster Recovery

In the event of an emergency or disaster, a UCaaS service provider can easily adapt to your changed situation without additional expenses on your part.

Most companies have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place to ensure that data and records vital to the operation of the business are duplicated or protected in off-site storage repositories.  UCaaS now provides the ability to ensure that business communications are also protected in the event of an emergency and can be incorporated into the overall Disaster Recovery Plan.

5.       Greater Mobility

UCaaS is a strong enabler for the mobile worker, the BYOD explosion, and remote/home office worker.  It allows users access to all business communications features from any registered user device, including a smart phone, laptop, desktop and, of course, desk phone.  Organizations can enable users’ smart phones to transparently bridge calls from the company’s Wi-Fi networks to cellular networks and back again, keeping  “on-the-go” and “location agnostic” users connected.  Desktop client software can turn any networked PC into a virtual desktop phone and unified messaging terminal.  Users can travel with their extensions, use video conferencing, and access advanced call forwarding and web-browser dialing. IT organizations often struggle with managing application across numerous devices. With UCaaS, users download the device application from the app store and IT can easily manage their access.  An additional user benefit is that the experience is the same across all devices.

6.       Increased Collaboration

True collaboration means anywhere, anytime access on any device. UCaaS gives your users access to applications that will let them instantly chat, set up on-the-fly conferences/meetings (both video and voice), share and exchange documents, and engage customers in real-time dialog. This will not only improve your workforce’s ability to be nimble, but will also improve customer satisfaction.

7.       Better Customization

UCaaS combines enterprise-grade voice features with sophisticated Unified Communications and Collaboration applications and hosts them in the cloud. UCaaS gives you the flexibility to choose the deployment model and applications to fit your specific requirements. It also offers the flexibility to expand or contract as your business requirements change.

Additional Resources

To learn more about how Unified Communication as a Service can help you take advantage of the latest UC technology, easily connect mobile and remote users, and free up time for the other IT projects you need to get to, click below.


Hybrid Cloud: An Alternative State for Enterprise Unified Communications and Collaboration

nec-hybrid-cloud-optionDespite the recent success of Unified Communications (UC) providers utilizing the public cloud in the SMB space, enterprise IT stakeholders can still be hesitant to make the move in taking their business communications entirely to the public cloud. Explanations for this often include reasoning based on a misunderstanding of the advancements made in public cloud security and availability, previous investment in costly on-premises equipment, or simply, their corporate culture.

The hybrid cloud could be the answer for businesses either investing in Unified Communications solutions for the first time, or that are looking to re-tailor their solution to better address certain business concerns.

According to Gartner VP Distinguished Analyst, Thomas J. Bittman, in a September 3, 2013 report titled, ‘Private Cloud Matures, Hybrid Cloud is Next,’ “While actual hybrid cloud computing deployments are rare, nearly three-fourths of large enterprises expect to have hybrid deployments by 2015.”

Hybrid Cloud for Enterprises

By definition, the Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) hybrid cloud is the combination of both private cloud and public cloud UCC components.  And its appeal is the wide array of options that it presents to enterprises.

Private Cloud for Enterprises

The private cloud offers enterprises secure solutions that are designed to keep data and resources safe on-premises. Enterprises generate a lot of sensitive information—customer data, voicemail, and email copies—and, depending on the corporate policy, confidential data analytics and mission-critical systems can be deemed too important to run on the public cloud. Having a private cloud in place is necessary for many enterprises to perform these and other functions, keeping them well within the bounds of the compliance procedures set by an individual company.

Main Drawback: Private clouds are expensive and are often inflexible. They often cannot scale to meet growing demands, and add more to the organization’s budget in infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Public Cloud for Enterprises

The public cloud, very simply, offers scalability and flexibility that the private cloud cannot easily match. Public cloud service providers are able to make resources, such as applications and storage, available to enterprises at any time.  They also use the newest technologies available, providing an organization with new services without ruining the bottom line. And, public clouds typically have better utilization rates and are flexible enough to meet the demand of your enterprise while still keeping infrastructure costs low.

Main Drawback: In many cases, when a quality provider is chosen, no drawback exists.  Unqualified providers, however, are often questioned on their ability to provide security, compliance, and data protection.

Hybrid Cloud for Enterprises

Sometimes the best infrastructure for UCC requires both public and dedicated environments. The Hybrid cloud, once thought of as the bridge to the public cloud has, in fact, become the last stop for many medium and large enterprises.

Best-Fit Infrastructures: Hybrid Unified Communications and Collaboration

Hybrid UCC allows enterprises to procure UCC services through several deployment models while supporting the service integration needed to deliver a UCC experience in much the same way as can be done with the public cloud. The main difference is that hybrid UCC allows an enterprise to tailor the cloud deployment model to their specific communication needs, security policies, or budget in the case of companies who have investments in existing premises equipment (e.g. PBX).  Hybrid also gives premises-based users the ability to migrate to the cloud at a pace that suits current business needs, and can strengthen a business continuity strategy.

With the hybrid cloud, many UCC components can live behind the corporate firewall. Other components, that need the elasticity and quick provisioning that the public cloud offers will have that too. Instead of choosing one option or the other, the hybrid cloud provides enterprises with another alternative for secure, scalable UCC solutions.

Rationalizing the Move to Hybrid Cloud UCC

If you’d like to learn more about hybrid UCC and how it can work for your business, NEC experts are more than happy to help. We can provide you with consulting services and quotes that can help you determine what a customized cloud strategy could do for your long and short term business goals.