There are a lot of good reasons for putting unified communications (UC) in the cloud. It saves capital costs, offloads much of the phone system management burden, creates access to advanced features and is extremely scalable. You could justify a move to UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) on the basis of any of these attributes.
However, none of those benefits will matter if the service is unreliable.
Reliability is a particularly critical metric for small to midsized businesses (SMBs) that often lack full-time internal IT support. Because any interruption of essential communication and collaboration services can negatively impact operations, dependability is a business imperative.
Just a few years ago, industry surveys found that most SMBs were reluctant to rely upon cloud-based UC for fear of inconsistent service and poor quality. Attitudes have shifted, however. A recent Techaisle study reports that the UCaaS adoption rate is growing among SMBs, and that reliability is a leading factor influencing their purchasing decisions.
There are a couple of reasons for this shift. One is that SMBs have begun to see UCaaS as an operational necessity. With today’s workforce having an ever-increasing expectation to work in a more mobile and virtual environment, the ability to access communication and collaboration capabilities from different locations and devices has become essential.
Even more important is growing comfort with the cloud. SMB decision-makers have come to realize that cloud services are likely to deliver better performance and reliability than they can expect from limited in-house IT staff. Most UCaaS providers have multiple failover data center facilities to ensure that communications remain up and running in case of an emergency. For instance, if a provider’s data center operations become disrupted due to weather, fire or some other catastrophic event, operations are automatically distributed to another location. Few SMBs have the budget or manpower to create such redundancy on their own.
Reliable Internet connectivity is another likely advantage. The top UCaaS providers have developed global private Internet backbones that connect to the top Internet exchange points and major telecommunications carriers to maximize performance and minimize the risk of service disruption.
Additionally, providers have teams of IT specialists with specific expertise in UC and UCaaS. Staff expertise in cloud platforms, mobile and IP networks, and all core UC technologies dramatically improve the speed and quality of support. What’s more, providers typically augment their in-house expertise through partnerships and certifications with leading manufacturers.
Adopting a UCaaS solution can provide a variety of benefits that make good financial sense while supporting innovation and collaboration in the workplace. As adoption grows, this communication model is building a track record of reliable performance. This is why most analysts say UCaaS will inevitably overtake on-premises solutions as the platform of choice for organizations of all sizes. A recent IDG survey predicts that virtually all UC deployments will be cloud-based within five years.
UCaaS is not without challenges, however. As with any significant IT initiative, due diligence is essential. For those considering a UCaaS migration, it’s a good idea to work with a qualified systems integrator that understands the technology and the challenges. With years of experience in the design, implementation and management of UC systems, IPC can help you architect a solution that ensures you gain all the benefits UCaaS has to offer.