The Rise of Cloud-Based Unified Communications & Collaboration
There’s no doubt that the concept of cloud is becoming more popular with businesses large and small, but there is still a huge amount of misinformation about the different types of cloud and their compatibility for individual organizations. So what exactly are the options when it comes to cloud-based UC and how do you know what’s right for different customers?
How do users choose between private, public, or hybrid?
The UCC (Unified Communications & Collaboration) market size is set to exceed USD 57 billion by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights. The growth is attributed to the rise in mobile devices and increased adoption of BYOD (bring your own device) across enterprises globally.
In particular, the cloud-based UCC market is predicted to experience significant growth between 2018 and 2024 owing to the rising adoption of cloud computing technology across businesses in different industries, ranging from IT & telecom, to financial services, to healthcare, and through to the public sector.
There’s no doubt that the concept of cloud is becoming more popular with businesses large and small, but there is still a huge amount of misinformation about the different types of cloud and their compatibility for individual organizations. The choice becomes even more challenging when it comes to business communications which require a high quality of service and often the ability to integrate with other applications on the corporate network.
Focus on private, public, or hybrid cloud
So what exactly are the options when it comes to cloud-based UC, and how do you know what’s right for different customers? The most affordable option at the moment is ‘public’ cloud, where one company shares basic VoIP-based telephony services, starting from as little as 5 Euro per user, per month. Typically these services are voice only, so the essence of ‘unified’ communications is devalued because the communications element is not connected with the rest of the IT network.
At the other end of the spectrum is ‘private’ cloud, where a customer’s data, servers, and software are housed in a dedicated private data center, often providing a higher quality of service, greater security, and the flexibility to customize IT. Another possibility is the ‘hybrid’ cloud; a cross between the two, where an organisation may wish to retain some of its communications services on-premises and house some in a ‘private’ or ‘public’ cloud.
Communication choices raise more questions than answers
On the one hand, it’s great to offer consumers choice. But this can sometimes create more questions than answers.
Whilst public cloud UC is hugely attractive for start-ups in urban areas where bandwidth is reliable, for those organizations who have sites or remote workers in more isolated or rural locations, it may be more advisable for them to go with a purely on-premises, hybrid, or private cloud solution.
The issue with voice is that, because it is real-time, it requires a high level of guaranteed service quality to work at an acceptable level. If you want to add video, collaboration, and desk sharing, then public cloud may struggle to support it.
The CX factor in customer communications
For those with more demanding customers, private cloud-based UC gives them greater built-in resilience because they have their own resources in a modern and secure data center. Compared with an on-premises installation that may be spread across different sites, private cloud offers the opportunity to centralize all the IT at one site, so it’s easier to maintain, manage, and fully integrate enterprise-wide communications with other complementary applications such as accounts or customer databases.
For those who still want the independence of their own network on-site or don’t wish to put all their applications in the cloud, a hybrid approach can offer the merits of both simultaneously.
What’s the end goal? Aligning communication technology with business objectives
Reaching a decision on what type or combination of cloud-based UC should be recommended will always be largely dependent on the organization and its needs. Ask them what their goals are. How important is communication to their operation and is it part of their route to market?
If they are highly customer-facing, then resilience should be a top priority, as should the ability to personalize multi-channel contact through deep integration with other customer-centric applications such as logistics or order management systems. In this scenario, private or hybrid cloud would certainly be the best path.
At the other end of the spectrum, a public VoIP offering may be attractive for new businesses who want the confidence of knowing their exact monthly costs. However, it’s wise for them to weigh up the costs over time as it might be more cost-effective to suggest private cloud using financing from the outset, so that they will ultimately own their technology.
Multi-Instance: Another facet of public cloud
Another new advance in public cloud which is worth drawing attention to is where the provider offers ‘multi-instance’ (MI) rather than ‘multi-tenant’. This has several advantages, because each customer is using its own copy of the software and is not sharing resources with other companies. Not only does this make it easier to ‘move’ and ‘customize’ communications technology, it is also much easier to retrieve data in the event of a catastrophe, alleviating some of the security concerns of customers when using a public cloud. In fact, Swyx’s new public cloud service SwyxON, available later in 2018, will be based on this technology, thus enabling end-customers to benefit from an affordable service that can also be personalized to their needs.
Choosing scalable and agnostic technology solutions
Of course, a customer’s needs may change at different stages of development. However, whatever their size or aspirations, it’s critical to use a solution and vendor that is platform-independent and that will enable scalability. Regardless of whether you prescribe on-premises, private, public, or a mixture, your communications solution should always offer customers the chance to try a range of possibilities at each stage of their growth.
Harald Bender has been with Swyx since the foundation of the company and he heads the marketing team focusing on corporate and product marketing. His more than 20 years of experience in the communication sector began in 1995 with building pioneering dynamic Web applications and E-Commerce strategies. Harald Bender has a degree in Computer Science.
Please note: The opinions expressed in Industry Insights published by dotmagazine are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the publisher, eco – Association of the Internet Industry.