Cloud systems are rapidly replacing old technology. Those of us in the UC market have witnessed cloud solutions grow for several years—so much so that the unified communications and collaboration (UC) cloud is on its way to mainstream.
Many SMBs, thanks to their nimble nature, have migrated to cloud solutions, and more recently, enterprises have been taking the plunge. As a consultant, I am seeing our clients consider replacing their legacy telephony systems, and all of them have asked for cloud solutions to be included in their RFPs.
Research supports the observed increase in UC cloud adoption
Many market projections for hosted UC and collaboration support this perceived growth in popularity. A study by Wainhouse Research projected global UCaaS/collaboration sales of $5.3B by 2018 with a 5-year compound annual growth rate of 24%, with considerable growth coming from the mid-to-large enterprise segment. Wainhouse also projects the number of endpoints supported annually can be as many as 20+M by 2018. This, from my vantage point, is a significant market trend that will happen.
Most organizations have some type of cloud in use today, and therefore the leap to a UC/collaboration cloud platform is not as great as it first appears. For example, most enterprises use some form of outside conferencing or collaboration, which are all cloud-based. Off-site storage, Google Docs and Office 365 are other examples of cloud usage.
Why more enterprises are moving to the cloud
The price makes sense
IT convenience is key
The reality of delivering a full UC suite in the cloud is just that—a reality.
While there are a very large number of UCaaS and cloud collaboration providers, the majority offer very basic features and functionality without the high scalability and reliability large enterprises require. Leading-edge providers can offer:
Many enterprises are hesitant to move services to the cloud, as they have less control and little or no control of SLAs and uptime. But just like any good carrier network design, specific elements can be introduced to provide a robust, highly redundant and resilient solution. The necessary design elements used by leading-edge providers include:
The offering from AT&T is substantial. Some of the UCaaS features it offers include instant messaging, web, video and audio conferencing, email, unified messaging, team collaboration, and voice calling with presence behind a single user interface. This interface is accessible via select desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
In addition, AT&T offers a hybrid architecture approach to help protect enterprises’ investments, and a mobile-centric design for full UC functionality across diverse devices, platforms and networks, and other communication capabilities. This can all be leveraged with the enterprise utilizing AT&T IP networking.
Lastly, AT&T offers what appears to be strong integration with Cisco Jabber UC and Microsoft Skype for Business products. This includes Skype For Business Presence and IM, Outlook integration, outbound and inbound simultaneous calls on Cisco hardphones and Lync softphones, single number reach, visual voice mail, and federating to external parties available.
If you’re still undecided about moving to the cloud, you may want to compare cloud with a premises model
If you’re still undecided about moving to the cloud, you may want to compare cloud with a premises model by creating a premises/cloud RFP and asking for either model when looking to procure a new UC system.
For those considering a move to the cloud, I recommend the following two phases:
1. Become an expert on your needs
2. Take everything into account, using readily available resources
Today’s cloud delivery model is a bit more mature than it was two to three years ago. The reality of delivering a full UC suite in the cloud is just that—a reality.
If your organization requires a robust UC infrastructure capable of significant growth, little capital outlay and quick ramp up, it is time to take a serious look at the cloud collaboration market.
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