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May
22
2014

Should you go with hosted UC? What does the market say?

Well, that’s a pretty direct question, and not surprisingly, there is no simple answer. First off, the term “hosted” has a history, and creates confusion when used interchangeably with “cloud”. They largely mean the same thing in the sense that hosted services reside in the cloud, which really means data centers that are firmly planted here on the ground. Got that?

Like anything else, you really need to understand what you’re getting into when trying something new. Going with a hosted form of UC may actually not be that new if you consider that businesses routinely use the cloud for many everyday applications such as Salesforce.com. To counter the ever-present threat of Google, Microsoft has made a big push to the cloud with Office 365.

Stepping back a bit, both vendors share a common threat in Amazon with their cloud dominance, and the same can be said, actually for all UC vendors. Amazon is not likely to become a UC provider, but their platform could support virtual player quite easily.

These are really existential issues for the UC space in general, but they shouldn’t keep you from deploying UC. There are valid use-case scenarios for both hosted and premise-based models, and I’m going to explore those over the next few posts. Regarding hosted, you don’t need a comprehensive understanding of what the cloud entails, but you do need enough to make an informed buying decision.

A big part of this entails knowing how the trade-offs compare between these models and how well your choice aligns with bigger picture drivers in your business. To be fair, this is easier to do with premise-based UC since there are more knowns than unknowns. This is the model you’ve come to trust and rely on with telephony, and in most cases, that thinking will be top-of-mind. After all, many UC offerings are extensions of IP PBX systems, so it’s natural to think this way.

Before drawing your own conclusions either way, I’d like to share some current data on how businesses are thinking. InformationWeek just published its annual State of UC report, and it’s based on responses from 488 businesses compiled during April 2014. The research is fairly extensive and worth reviewing, but for now, I’m just going to highlight some cloud-related findings.

  • Among those currently or planning to deploy UC, only 3% have done so fully in the cloud today. When asking those who are planning for UC, just 9% responded the same way. As such, in absolute terms, only a small minority are totally sold on the cloud as their deployment model for UC.
  • For the rest of the research sample, deployment plans are less clear, although cloud is very much in the conversation. To illustrate, here are some basic data points:
  • 40% of those already deployed are fully premise-based, and 30% of those planning on UC will do the same.
  • 41% of UC deployments are actually hybrid. In other words, both premise and cloud are being used, but the mix leans in favor of premise. The numbers are very similar for those planning on UC.
  • Another segment is undetermined, reflecting an uncertainty about what the cloud model will really be like. Among those with current UC plans/deployments, 16% are undecided, and the number bumps up to 19% for businesses looking to deploy UC in the near term.

As you can see, the market is far from clear about what role the cloud will in their UC plans. If you’re feeling uncertain about this, you’re in good company, and it’s fair to say this is normal for the buying process at this stage of UC’s evolution. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should be resigned to sitting on the fence, as the long term outlook favors the cloud.

I’m sharing the above data here to validate what a lot of businesses are no doubt feeling. You know the cloud is out there, and you believe UC will be a good business decision, but you’re not sure if the cloud is good for UC. For now, I’ll leave aside the semantics over cloud versus hosted, but you get the idea.

In short, it’s okay to feel uncertain, and this just means you have to pose a lot of questions to UC vendors. Hosted UC may be first nature to them, but maybe not for you. The industry has its reasons for pushing UC to the cloud, and you have to be comfortable that this thinking will serve your needs.

To be fair, hosted UC is never carved in stone, and that’s why hybrid models are so popular. You want to minimize the technology risk that comes with a new model, but at the same time you want the benefits that come with the cloud’s promise. There is no singular right way to strike this balance, and for now, the main message is that nobody really has the answer.

Your best path is to learn as much as you can from industry trends such as the study cited above, and to get clear answers from the vendors. I’ll continue my analysis next time by looking more closely at the key drivers that are pushing businesses to use hosted offerings for UC.

Well, that’s a pretty direct question, and not surprisingly, there is no simple answer. First off, the term “hosted” has a history, and creates confusion when used interchangeably with “cloud”. They largely mean the same thing in the sense that hosted services reside in the cloud, which really means data centers that are firmly planted here on the ground. Got that?

Like anything else, you really need to understand what you’re getting into when trying something new. Going with a hosted form of UC may actually not be that new if you consider that businesses routinely use the cloud for many everyday applications such as Salesforce.com. To counter the ever-present threat of Google, Microsoft has made a big push to the cloud with Office 365.

Stepping back a bit, both vendors share a common threat in Amazon with their cloud dominance, and the same can be said, actually for all UC vendors. Amazon is not likely to become a UC provider, but their platform could support virtual player quite easily.

These are really existential issues for the UC space in general, but they shouldn’t keep you from deploying UC. There are valid use-case scenarios for both hosted and premise-based models, and I’m going to explore those over the next few posts. Regarding hosted, you don’t need a comprehensive understanding of what the cloud entails, but you do need enough to make an informed buying decision.

A big part of this entails knowing how the trade-offs compare between these models and how well your choice aligns with bigger picture drivers in your business. To be fair, this is easier to do with premise-based UC since there are more knowns than unknowns. This is the model you’ve come to trust and rely on with telephony, and in most cases, that thinking will be top-of-mind. After all, many UC offerings are extensions of IP PBX systems, so it’s natural to think this way.

Before drawing your own conclusions either way, I’d like to share some current data on how businesses are thinking. InformationWeek just published its annual State of UC report, and it’s based on responses from 488 businesses compiled during April 2014. The research is fairly extensive and worth reviewing, but for now, I’m just going to highlight some cloud-related findings.

  • Among those currently or planning to deploy UC, only 3% have done so fully in the cloud today. When asking those who are planning for UC, just 9% responded the same way. As such, in absolute terms, only a small minority are totally sold on the cloud as their deployment model for UC.
  • For the rest of the research sample, deployment plans are less clear, although cloud is very much in the conversation. To illustrate, here are some basic data points:
  • 40% of those already deployed are fully premise-based, and 30% of those planning on UC will do the same.
  • 41% of UC deployments are actually hybrid. In other words, both premise and cloud are being used, but the mix leans in favor of premise. The numbers are very similar for those planning on UC.
  • Another segment is undetermined, reflecting an uncertainty about what the cloud model will really be like. Among those with current UC plans/deployments, 16% are undecided, and the number bumps up to 19% for businesses looking to deploy UC in the near term.

As you can see, the market is far from clear about what role the cloud will in their UC plans. If you’re feeling uncertain about this, you’re in good company, and it’s fair to say this is normal for the buying process at this stage of UC’s evolution. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should be resigned to sitting on the fence, as the long term outlook favors the cloud.

I’m sharing the above data here to validate what a lot of businesses are no doubt feeling. You know the cloud is out there, and you believe UC will be a good business decision, but you’re not sure if the cloud is good for UC. For now, I’ll leave aside the semantics over cloud versus hosted, but you get the idea.

In short, it’s okay to feel uncertain, and this just means you have to pose a lot of questions to UC vendors. Hosted UC may be first nature to them, but maybe not for you. The industry has its reasons for pushing UC to the cloud, and you have to be comfortable that this thinking will serve your needs.

To be fair, hosted UC is never carved in stone, and that’s why hybrid models are so popular. You want to minimize the technology risk that comes with a new model, but at the same time you want the benefits that come with the cloud’s promise. There is no singular right way to strike this balance, and for now, the main message is that nobody really has the answer.

Your best path is to learn as much as you can from industry trends such as the study cited above, and to get clear answers from the vendors. I’ll continue my analysis next time by looking more closely at the key drivers that are pushing businesses to use hosted offerings for UC.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.adtran.com/should-you-go-with-hosted-uc-what-does-the-market-say/

1 comment

  1. Rossyjordin says:

    Interesting and informative one,,,i liked your blog,,awesome collection you have really,,,thanks for share the blog!!!Business Broadband Providers

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