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The Pros and Cons of Premise-based and Cloud-based Unified Communications

by Kevin Gillingham | May 28, 2014

Unified Communications (UC) integrates communications tasks to improve an organization’s productivity and collaboration. With this streamlined solution, conferencing, calling, messaging, and other useful features are all unified into one (easily manageable) system.

After deciding to implement UC, you will need to determine whether you want a premise-based deployment or cloud-based. Your solution must meet your current needs, and prepare you for your future communication needs.

Premise-based Unified Communications

If your phone system is located and managed on-premise, you likely have a PBX (private branch exchange) or KTS (key telephone system). Many on-premise phone systems are based on older, legacy technologies.

Pros Easy Transition Easy to add onto a VoIP solution, particularly if dealing with only one vendor for both.
More Control Allows you and your IT department to maintain complete control over your network and applications.
Lower Cost of Ownership High upfront cost, but lower cost over time in some cases.
If Essential to Business Keeps UC and telephony on-premise when these systems are deemed too important to outsource.
Cons High Acquisition Cost High upfront cost can be prohibitive.
IT Limitations Depending on available resources and expertise, deployment may be too complicated.
Integration Challenges Existing telephony infrastructure may be difficult to integrate with the UC solution.
Responsibility for Updates Company must upkeep the solution, doing updates and enhancements themselves. It can be difficult to remain current and timely.

 * Information from Ziff Davis

Cloud-based Unified Communications Cloud Based Communication

As VoIP technology replaces older phone systems, more businesses are migrating to a cloud-based model. Cloud means that the voice and UC solution is largely offsite, residing in a data center and managed by a partner or service provider.

 

Pros Easier to Afford Cloud is less capital-intensive and has fewer upfront costs. This is ideal for businesses with limited budgets.
Reliable Budgeting It is based on a fixed monthly cost, making it easy to budget for.
Easy to Use Great for businesses with a small IT department – or no IT department at all!
Minimizes Complexity Simple to deploy, regardless of the complexity of the technology.
Flexible Easily scalable (up or down) according to the needs of the business.
Allows Virtualization Enables cost-effect expansion and leveraging of virtual options, including outsourced telephony or remote worker support.
Easy to Update Always up to date, ensuring you have the latest versions of applications with minimal effort.
Business Continuity Essential for businesses in extreme climates or where broadband service is not reliable.
Cons Less Control Hosting offsite means relying on external resources and support teams.
Newer Technology Cloud-based UC is relatively new, and some are still concerned about its long term viability.
Vendor Stability Also due to the technology’s newness, stability of vendors is not proven.
Data Security Certain industries must keep their data onsite for security and compliance reasons. Cloud UC obscures where exactly the data resides.
Debatable Cost of Ownership Advantage Leasing is, over time, more expensive than owning. Low initial costs will be surpassed by ongoing costs of hosted support.

* Information from Ziff Davis

In Summary

These advantages and disadvantages of the different deployment methods for UC are not comprehensive, but they are a good starting place for businesses that must decide how to best implement their new unified communications solution.

There is also a third option – a hybrid model which compromises between these two extremes. With hybrid options, some components of the technology remain on-premise, while other features are added through the cloud.

The hybrid model can be the best of both worlds for businesses that want to retain their legacy infrastructure, but take advantage of the benefits provided by the cloud.

An experienced technology integration partner and solution provider can help your business determine the most effective approach, given your specific requirements.

>> Activo can implement voice and unified communications for your organization. Contact us today to discuss your communication needs.

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