Relevance of Cloud-based UC Solutions

By CIOReview | Tuesday, July 4, 2017
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There is no denial that synchronous communication is shaping the modern workplace; and with the use of appropriate technologies it is a key to any successful enterprise. However, the growing dynamism and mobility of today’s workforce requires enterprises to allow employees to access data from anywhere, anytime, for seamlessly communicating with their customers.

While being able to communicate with customers through multiple channels is certainly an advantage for the mobile workforce, conventional UC platforms tend to present a major challenge as they can only be deployed within the enterprise premises; they do not offer the mobility and flexibility that employees need today. Even as this could raise questions on the relevance of UC in modern enterprises, cloud technology comes to rescue. The confluence of cloud and UC has marked the inception of Unified Communication as-a-Service (UCaaS). Taking a holistic view of the merits and demerits associated with UCaaS, helps organizations in understanding its value proposition better.

Merits of UCaaS

Nearly all the benefits associated with cloud-based software over its on-premises counterpart, hold good for UCaaS. The cloud is obviously less capital-intensive, with limited upfront costs as companies are saved from the need for buying expensive hardware for each user, which reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO). The fixed monthly charges associated in availing the services, simplify the budgeting process.

The greatest advantage of a cloud-based UC solution lies in the ability to scale-up or down depending on the number of users. Its compatibility with the mobile environment provides employees the freedom to attend to their customers needs, as per their convenience.

Although cloud vendors charge a per-user fee, the scope for virtualization supported by cloud technology, allows UCaaS to be expanded for handling a greater number of users without the overhead of additional costs. As the responsibility of updating applications lies with the UCaaS service provider, companies save on maintaining the infrastructure—which is again lucrative. They also get to leverage the latest features in technology that the service provider may upgrade.

As most cloud service providers offer reliable redundancy and back-up options for communication data, disaster recovery is faster with a UCaaS system than its on-premise counterpart.

Demerits of UCaaS

Despite being promising, UCaaS is not without its share of challenges. For example, UCaaS is still a new technology due to which, companies are still concerned about its long term viability. Further, the stability of cloud vendors with respect to UC platforms—whose functionality is different from most other software or platforms, is yet to be proven.

UCaaS requires organizations to rely entirely on the service providers for periodic updates to the communication application. Therefore, any failure on the part of service providers to update the features is likely to put organizations at a disadvantage.

From the standpoint of security, it is always recommended that enterprises preserve certain data onsite; following this in the context of communication is all the more important as any leakage of confidential business data could potentially thwart the advantage that organizations enjoy, over competitors. This can be a major impediment in popularizing UCaaS as it obscures the exact data location within the cloud.

Further, the cost of deploying cloud infrastructure is itself a debatable subject. This is because leasing a platform or service becomes more expensive than owning it, over a certain period. Hence the number of industry experts advocating against UCaaS, is not insignificant.

Way Forward

While UCaaS could prove to be beneficial, it also comes with certain drawbacks—both of which are too significant to ignore. Hence, a third approach—called the Hybrid mode, is preferred. The Hybrid mode, as the name indicates combines the best of both the approaches to place enterprise benefits at the center. It proposes to retain certain components on premises, and deploying others on the cloud, so as to mitigate the concerns without compromising on the advantages of UCaaS.

Ultimately, the strategy most apt for deploying UC depends on the requirements necessary to simplify the workflow in an enterprise. Qualified providers would thoroughly review their clients’ requirements to suggest the best solution.