Enterprises need to increase the range of their unified communications and collaboration applications and services to allow workers to be as productive as possible – no matter where they're located and what devices they’re using. The cloud is an effective delivery model for a large number of UC applications for an extended workforce, but where to start?
Cloud-based UCC appeals to organizations that rely on voice, messaging, presence and collaboration to improve business flow. Cloud-based collaboration solutions offer several benefits such as:
Low capital expenditure
Organizations that prefer not to implement UCC via capital investments are great candidates for cloud-based UCC. Cloud UCC offers the flexibility and scalability to add or remove users as needed, great for seasonal businesses. Along with reduced administrative requirements by enterprise employees and guaranteed service-level agreements (SLA) by the provider, moving to the cloud becomes even more attractive. Instead of a huge, one-time expense for UCC equipment, enterprises will pay for a SLA and a monthly, per user operating expense charge for required features. The provider guarantees uptime using a SLA.
Since there is no major hardware being installed at the business, implementation is simple and quick. Users can access cloud-based UCC services over an Internet Protocol (IP) connection, such as the Internet using a web browser and can do so from mobile devices as well. Laptops, notebooks, traditional desktop PCs and tablets can all be used to access cloud-based UCC. Implementation can be done in a single or multi-tenant cloud; single-tenant deployments allow for more customization and security.
Decreased total cost of ownership
Cloud-based UCC features include voice/telephony; unified messaging (UM), which includes email, voice mail and faxing; presence and instant messaging (IM); conferencing (audio, video and web); and content sharing/social tools. Any or all of these capabilities can be accessed from a single user interface on the desktop or via a mobile device. A provider might offer all these applications or just a subgroup of them. Customers may be able to choose applications or just a single UC package. Enterprises that have existing, on-site UCC applications can avoid a total migration to cloud-based UCC by establishing a hybrid UCC architecture, where the organization provides some services in-house and subscribes to others. This allows the enterprise to protect their investment in existing infrastructure while adding capabilities they don’t have but need. SLA and monthly usage costs can easily be compare to UCC capital expenditures to show lower cost of ownership.
When comparing UCC cloud-based providers, determine the types of UC applications they offer, subscription costs, SLA terms and network access requirements. Find out if the provider uses multi-tenant or private cloud to deliver UCC services, which will determine the level of customization and security an enterprise can expect. Organizations that have existing on-premises UCC should look for a partner that offers both on-premises and cloud-based UCC and has integration experience that will support a seamless transition. Larger organizations may have trouble finding a single vendor solution for UCC. Larger companies may find that choosing a primary vendor to handle providers is more effective and less time consuming. Enterprises should be aware that the market is diverse and provider offerings can differ greatly.
VARs can be the trusted advisor for enterprises looking to fully or partially migrate their UCC to the cloud. The more experience the VAR has, the smoother the transition will be for the customer, making up-sells and cross-sales easier and more profitable.
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