50 Shades of UC – Unified Communications versus UCaaS
You may need to kiss a few frogs before you find the right solution
Many organisations find that the challenges of moving to cloud-based Unified Communications (UC), and cloud communications services are centred as much around finance as they are technology. Often, the questions are: “Will a hosted solution save me money? What features will I lose? What’s the risk?”
Cloud communications is more flexible, and more capable of helping companies to scale naturally, allowing for the easy implementation of new technologies and new users. Public cloud UC services and private cloud PBX solutions are now growing more popular. By 2020, one in two sales across the globe will be located in the cloud. Beyond that, cloud is likely to win the market share.
“Cloud PBX and UCaaS deployments are growing by 8.5% per year globally, on-premise PBX deployments are declining.”
Analysts suggest that the traditional PBX is no longer be the platform for productivity. A UC platform that offers video, voice, team collaboration, and available API is underpinning the cloud market growth, and enterprises are no longer asking the question “if”, but instead “how and when” they’re going to move to the cloud.
Combining UC and cloud communications is, after all, a winning formula for organisations in seek of true business agility.
PBX versus Cloud: Is it Black and White?
As traditional revenues for PBX continue to decline, there’s a massive PBX versus cloud debate on the horizon, though it may not be as simple as one versus the other. Many telecoms believe there’s still a place for IP-PBX on-premise solutions, and market trends are supporting it. Indeed, the majority of phone system sales in the UK are still on-premises.
Cloud, of course, will continue to nibble away at the ‘on-premises’ market share. What we’re seeing now, is a period for hybrid solutions to make their mark. SMBs are naturally ready to move cloud telephony faster than large corporates, and most cloud solutions by 2020 will be found in the SMB market. However, as large enterprises deploy hybrid solutions over the coming three years, their cloud seat figure will soon overtake.
Where Does This Leave the IP-PBX?
It does make sense to host and own your IP-PBX and UC solution. If you’re in a static business with static requirements, then it’s simply more cost-effective than a subscription cloud model. For sectors like the financial industry, it’s a much longer game due to security risks that need to be approved by regulatory bodies and IT departments.
What’s more, cloud solutions today are still catching up with PBX features, so if companies have already invested in integrating communications with critical systems and processes, then it might be a compelling reason for them to stay with what works, at least for now.
The Grey Areas…
Right now, research shows that the lifecycle of the PBX is extending. Companies are holding onto their on-premises options for longer if there’s no perceived value or reason for moving to a cloud-based solution.
For larger businesses, hybrid deployments are where we are right now, with many migrating to software-based PBXs and SIP trunking solutions. Having a VoIP-enabled PBX for many is like having a single foot in the cloud, while they enjoy the remaining benefits of an on-premise platform. It allows them to build trust in software-based communications and the voice over internet technology.
The life-cycle of traditional phone systems has always been around 7-10 years, so you don’t need to rush out and buy a new cloud system. Your move forward should begin with a plan, and strategy, and these grey hybrid deployments are likely to be the stepping stone between on-premise, and a fully cloud based communications system.
The Path to UC – Where are you Right Now?
As confidence, perceived value, and budgets grow, these hybrid solutions are bound to migrate to full cloud solutions. Right now, we have:
- On-premises voice PBX
- On-premises UC
- Hybrid cloud UC
- Private or Public Cloud UC
Unified Communications is just as important, if not more-so, as where you deploy and how you deploy your communications platforms. If a business can gain access to new UC tech with on-premise IP-PBX solutions, then this is a viable stepping stone.
Moving to the cloud is a journey, so make sure you take your time and evaluate the best solution for your business. Don’t just follow the crowd. Every business is unique, with different requirements and challenges to face. Rather than thinking of it as a journey to the cloud, it may be worth thinking of your process as a journey to Unified Communications.