10 Advantages of Hosted Unified Communications

When considering Unified Communications for your business, a key question will be whether the deployment model remains on premise or shifts to being hosted in the cloud. The state of your network will have a lot to do with that decision, but each model has a distinct set of advantages that need to be evaluated.

Hosted options have existed for decades in various forms, but only recently have they become viable enough for mainstream adoption. There are tradeoffs for each model, and to get that process started, this article summarizes ten advantages of the hosted option for UC.

Easier on cashflow  Financial considerations are always major drivers, and this definitely holds true when comparing hosted to premise-based UC. The former is built on the subscription model, where the business incurs monthly charges for each seat license. These monthly payments will usually be more manageable than the upfront outlay needed for a premise-based solution.

Reduced capital outlay  Related to the above, hosted UC doesn’t require a capital expenditure, so there is no issue around getting budget for the initial cost. The key benefit here is that UC is now accessible to a broader range of businesses, since all that’s needed is budget for a monthly payment.

Easier to manage the service  Aside from finances, this will be the biggest benefit of hosted. UC technology is complex, and for businesses with limited IT resources and expertise, premise-based solutions will not be viable. Hosted solves this problem by taking away the need for businesses to directly manage UC, deferring this to a provider who has far more resources at their disposal.

Always current with applications  This is an ongoing benefit that the hosted model supports very well. UC applications are constantly evolving and to keep premise-based solutions current, IT must work closely multiple vendors and ensure the updates work properly. Hosted providers do this as a matter of course, which takes a lot of pressure off IT.

Can scale as you grow  Hosted providers far more network capacity than most businesses, for scaled-back IT departments, this can be a more practical way to extend UC across your organization. Premise-based systems don’t pose any issues here for pilot deployments, but when rolling out company-wide, there may well be network capacity constraints.

Flexible model – always right-sized  This is another aspect of scalability, but has more to do with cost control. The flexible nature of cloud means you can have as much or as little UC as business conditions dictate. For businesses with highly variable staffing requirements, this provides more certainty around planning than premise-based options.

Can focus IT in other areas  Most businesses have multiple demands on IT that go beyond their capabilities. Outsourcing is being used increasingly to manage this, as most IT operations face shrinking budgets. For businesses that have higher IT priorities but still want UC, hosted is the best path to follow.

Easier for administration and management  Similar to the previous advantage, hosted providers can provide these tools, which IT needs to assess UC’s performance. Furthermore, in cases where the hosted provider has a more robust network, it will be much easier to implement system-wide upgrades or provision new applications.

Business continuity  Being cloud-based, hosted UC offerings can support employees regardless of their location. They only require a broadband connection to access the UC features, making it easier to support remote workers. More importantly, this mean the business can keep running if inclement weather prevents employees for getting to the office, or shuts down the office, leading employees to disperse and work from other locations.

Reduced security risk for your network  With a hosted provider, most UC activity will run over their network instead of yours. Not only does that reduce your security risk, but the provider will likely have access to more comprehensive security tools to protect their network.

Jon Arnold is Principal of J Arnold & Associates, an independent telecom analyst and strategy consultancy based in Toronto, Ontario. The consultancy’s primary focus is providing thought leadership and go-to-market counsel regarding IP communications and disruptive technologies. You follow Jon’s everyday insights on his blog and on Twitter.

Tags: Business,Business Intelligence