What makes Unified Communications (UC) a Prime Candidate for the Cloud?
A lot of the Cloud offers for enterprises fall into the infrastructure category (pay per server) but some of the earliest pay-per-user services to emerge fully formed have been collaboration tools like Webex, Microsft BPOS, and Google’s GAPE. As enterprises adopt a more unified communications approach should they look to the Cloud, or should they continue to build out private infrastructure? I’ll attempt to make the case for the Cloud in three parts...
First: is a UC infrastructure suitable for the Cloud? As a reminder, Cloud applications typically:
* Are not so tightly coupled to corporate systems that they have to be served from the same data centres.
* Have users that are dispersed within one company, one community, and/or the globe
* Have variable resource requirements
* Have a variable cost base with the ability to rapidly add or remove resources (users, servers, storage...) through some form of self-service
* Low or no up-front investment
Second: does the Cloud help the investment case?
Even for enterprises that are convinced of the business benefits of Unified Communications, the cost of replacing or upgrading all of the components needed for true UC (desktops, servers, PABXs, network...) might be prohibitive and the impact and risks associated with such major change might be unacceptable.
Integrating Cloud service(s) with the existing infrastructure enables a more phased approach to migration and the reuse of assets that have not reached the end of their useful life.
Third and finally: what about the user experience?
Typically, enterprise infrastructure runs release –2 or release –3 levels of software. As evidence, look at the number of major organisations planning to migrate from Windows XP in 2011/12. In comparison, Cloud services are usually at release or release –1 and allow for beta testing of new releases. End users have become used, as consumers, to using up to date applications and express frustration at legacy enterprise systems.
I’m a big fan of building Unified Communications in the Cloud, but I’m interested to hear from anyone who’s built out their own private infrastructure. Did it work? What’s the counter argument here?