For a long time, service providers and carriers have offered telephony from cloud-based data centers located around the world. In more recent years, more services have become available from providers via the cloud, including hosted audio, video, and Web conferencing, making it easier for workers in different locations to join collaborative calls. Most recently, UCC technologies like hosted e-mail and video conferencing, along with other productivity applications like instant messaging, are being offered in the cloud and are often known as Unified communications as a service (UCaaS).
Many companies that are still using older TDM PBX systems, conference bridge hardware, e-mail servers, and stand-alone video conferencing systems are looking to the cloud for their collaboration needs for many reasons, some of which will be explored below:
Hardware vs. Software – Hardware-based solutions can be expensive to install, maintain, and update for many organizations. The business must have the required space and environmental factors to support traditional PBX equipment and all of the unified communications (UC) platforms that are not integrated with the PBX. IP-PBX systems of today offer some integrated and some hybrid UC components, but many companies are finding it easier and less expensive to move their communications requirements to the cloud in order to reduce costs, IT staff requirements, on-premises service, and maintenance and hardware upgrades. UCaaS is primarily software-based, and the service provider is responsible for integrating the IP-PBX, conferencing, e-mail, video, and other UC applications at their data centers. Software upgrades are completed remotely, typically automatically without the need for the company’s IT department to be involved. Instead of using proprietary solutions and end points, cloud-based UCaaS provides a wide range of solutions that can be customized for each individual customer. The move from capital expenditures to operating expenditures and to the pay-per-user model is important to many companies in reducing overall total cost of ownership.
Reliability and Connectivity – Service providers have gone to great lengths in order to ensure their UCaaS offers provide security and reliability in order to prevent downtime. Customers with multiple locations can use the same service and be connected as if everyone were in one location. If one location has some type of failure, calls can be rerouted to a different location. Service providers offer network management, security, and resilience options that are much less complex and costly to implement than they would be in a premises-based configuration.
Modern Mobility – Mobility is a huge part of UCaaS, and service providers have worked hard in order to integrate it into their cloud-based software. Single-number reach—where a call can be routed to a desk, an application, or a mobile device—is important for businesses with mobile employees. Cloud-based mobility solutions often provide the same user interface as on the desktop, making the use of mobile devices simple and intuitive. With hosted conferencing services, mobile users can join in on conference calls or video meetings quickly and easily. Mobile users can also access instant messaging applications no matter where they are, providing quick access to information. Many providers offer support for BYOD (“bring your own device”) mobility as well, something that is more complex and costly to implement on premises-based systems.
In order to successfully migrate to cloud-based UCaaS offers, customers need to find a provider that has across-the-board expertise in network planning, security, reliability, mobility, collaboration, support, and end-user adoption. Providers with these qualifications will find success by providing mature UCaaS offers that meet each individual customer’s needs.
Does your company offer a mature UCaaS offer? Please comment below.