“The cloud” has become something of a business buzzword. Chances are however, your business is already on the cloud for certain applications. If you use Microsoft 365, Salesforce, or any number of subscription services, you are already on the cloud.
But what about unified communications? Moving voice calls and all the other aspects of internal and external communications to the cloud—including the contact center for applicable organizations—is a much more complicated endeavor. That’s why we’re exploring the top questions that you need to answer when considering a move to the cloud for unified communications.
How Do You Know If You Should Move to the Cloud?
The real answer to the question for your specific business can’t be answered in a blog post, but there are a variety of factors that can help guide you.
The resources you have available and where you want to direct them
If for example, you have a robust IT team with the capacity for maintenance, upgrades, and security, an onsite solution could be for you. However, your CIO may be able to point those employees to more profitable tasks if they are not needed to run onsite communications.
Additionally, your CFO may have a preference for unified communications to be a capital expense (CapEx) as they would be with an onsite platform, or an operational expense (OpEx) as they would with a cloud based subscription.
The resources you have available and where you want to direct them
Simply put, this is the difference between owning the technology that your business uses for communications or renting it. Like owning a home, you are responsible for all the maintenance and upgrades of an onsite system. But unlike a home, your communications needs could shift drastically (as we saw during the pandemic).
With a cloud-based solution, the provider is responsible for maintenance and upgrades. Similarly to renting a home or office space, if your cloud communications provider isn’t meeting your needs, moving elsewhere is a straightforward process once your agreement has ended.
- You fully own and operate the solution
- You are responsible for overall maintenance, upgrades, reliability, and security
- Typically acquired as an upfront purchase, and accounted for as a capital expense (CapEx)
- Remote workers need to be accounted for
- Applications are hosted remotely by the cloud provider or a hosting partner
- Cloud provider manages the service, relieving in-house IT of most or all network-related tasks
- Services are consumed as a monthly subscription expense (OpEx)
- Remote work is inherent
The Major Benefits of Onsite Communications Systems
The benefits of onsite systems are fewer in number compared to cloud-based systems, but they may be critical to your business.
The Highest Costs Are Generally Upfront
Depending on your organization’s financial situation and strategy, it could be beneficial to have a large upfront investment in purchasing technology as opposed to monthly costs that are relatively fixed, but could fluctuate depending on operations.
You Have Control Over Your Systems
This is the benefit of being responsible for your communications system—you also have control over how it is managed. If for example, your organization has stringent security needs, highly customized programs, or strict compliance protocols, this level of control could be highly advantageous.
The Major Benefits of Cloud-Based Communications Systems
Value and Transparency
With cloud solutions, you typically see a greater value overall. For starters, the upfront costs are minimal or non-existent. You typically only pay for what you need via a monthly subscription that is based on the number of users. Rather than paying your staff or outside providers for maintenance and upgrades, these services are usually included in your subscription.
While onsite communications platforms can accommodate remote and hybrid workers, they are typically not designed to do so as a primary function. The nature of cloud-based systems facilitates accessibility. As long as employees have access to the internet, they can enjoy the same features and functionalities wherever they are—in the office, at a remote location, or on the road.
Cloud-based communication solutions are built on APIs and designed with an API web-services mindset. This means that they are inherently better at integrating with other web-based services. The result is a wider variety of integrations to choose from and better data sharing between the communications platform and other cloud-based tools, such as CRMs and accounting programs.
With onsite communications systems, adding new personnel can require complex provisioning, and adding new locations can require significant investments in hardware. But with cloud-based solutions, new users are provisioned in minutes, and new locations can be easily and quickly added to your subscription.
Which Type of Cloud Platform Is Best for Your Business?
Deciding to move to the cloud is the first step. The next step is determining which type of cloud platform would best suit your needs.
Public cloud platforms are typically the least expensive option. Think of it like renting in an apartment building. The layout and amenities will typically be about the same for every resident. With a public cloud solution, your computing resources are shared, you will have very few options for customizations, and you will have very little say in how it is run. Most notably, maintenance and other operations will happen whenever your provider schedules them.
But, it is a popular misconception that only smaller organizations are a good fit for public cloud solutions. There are businesses with thousands of locations across the world on public cloud platforms. The issue isn’t scale, it’s functionality.
These solutions are typically more expensive than the former option, but they offer a far greater degree of flexibility and control. Private cloud solutions offer dedicated computing resources to your business, and you determine the maintenance schedules, upgrades, and feature enhancements. Resources can be hosted at an on-site data center or hosted by a third-party service provider. Businesses with complex integrations or notable compliance concerns often go with a private cloud solution.
This option entails having certain aspects of communications onsite, like a PBX phone system and datacenter, and other communications services that are fully integrated into the onsite system. Although this option maintains some of the disadvantages inherent to onsite systems, it also leverages the benefits on-premise and cloud-based systems. Many organizations with highly specific communications needs or with significant investments in on-premise technology go with a hybrid cloud solution.
Why You Need a Partner for Cloud Migrations
These considerations are just the first steps of moving to the cloud. There are specific components of voice migration, and a host of advanced considerations, such as network assessments, mobility requirements, contact center requirements, and much more. Then you need to determine which provider and plan is best for you—and then you need to implement it.
IPC Has Helped Hundreds of Organizations with Cloud Migrations
Have an expert on your side who can help you answer all of these questions and make sure that you are on the best path to the cloud.
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