Enterprise Cloud Computing
Future Proof with Cloud-Based Unified Communications
Delivering high-quality reliable services
Jul. 11, 2012 12:00 PM
As an increasingly mobile and decentralized workforce gains access to a variety of communications options, organizations are ready to adopt unified communications. With its reduction in communications costs and significant improvements in overall employee mobility, flexibility, efficiency and productivity, unified communications are transforming the way we work and communicate. But decision makers need assurance that the solution they implement today is one they can build on for the future. The best way they can ensure a future proof solution is to adopt cloud-based unified communications.
However, since technologies and service delivery rapidly evolving, not all cloud-based unified communications solutions are equal.
Decision makers must take into consideration these critical capabilities to find solutions that take advantage of the best of what unified communications technology and the cloud can offer:
- Cloud-based UC - Cloud-based unified communications is driving down the cost of deploying a fully integrated unified communications solution. Cloud solutions do not require huge upfront capital investments and, as a result, they allow organizations to shift capital expenses into more predictable operational expenses to reap significant annual costs savings. Cloud also provides flexibility and facilitates mobility, improving collaboration.
- Hybrid Cloud - Pure hosted unified communications-as-a-service solutions (UCaaS) lack reliability as well as many of the enterprise features companies rely on that are available with traditional on-premise solutions. Hybrid solutions that combine the best of on-premise and cloud are emerging and these are the solutions that warrant serious consideration.
- Straightforward Pricing - Pricing for UC solutions should comprise the total cost of your end-to-end solution and address every element - including access, long distance charges, downtime, help desk support, training, and day-to-day system management so you don't end up with surprise costs.
- SIP Based Platform - SIP enables endpoints to find one another, establish a session and terminate the session once communication is complete. It is the signaling standard for any type of rich media session. New productivity applications will emerge as mobile business models and end-user devices evolve that integrate video, voice, and instant messaging. Integration and adoption of these new emerging applications will be an issue if the underlying unified communications platform is not based on SIP.
- Ability to Run SIP to the Premise - As video and audio conferencing, unified messaging, instant messaging and presence become more popular, running SIP trunks to the premise is becoming a fundamental building block as companies move to an all-IP infrastructure. Organizations are choosing SIP trunks to consolidate traffic and to increase call quality, reliability, security and efficiency by maximizing the use of network capacity to drive down costs.
- Flexible Mobility Features - Cloud-based unified communications solutions is making remote business communications seamless. Whether you are in the office, at a temporary job site, working from home, in a field office or in a hotel room anywhere in the world, employees can take and manage calls and messages just like they were sitting at their desk in the office. Look for features like Personal Auto-Attendant, Extension Anywhere, Find-Me-Follow-Me, Virtual Extensions, Mobile Call Screening, and Single Number Access that can easily be configured and managed with a web-based user interface.
- Integrated BYOD - With the introduction of tablets and smartphones, many companies are beginning to adopt "Bring Your Own Device" strategies. Cloud-based unified communications combined with versatile soft phone applications enable IT to deliver a uniform experience to all users regardless of the device they use. Choose a solution that offers integrated, extensive and flexible soft phone features.
- Can Scale Up and Down Quickly - Scaling for seasonal spikes in the business, and growing or downsizing your organization has never been easier. Cloud-based unified communications provide point-and-click management interfaces that enable companies to simply add new users, one phone at a time with no costly on-site technicians, no service downtime, and no hidden fees.
- Automatic Feature Upgrades - As businesses grow, needs change. Cloud-based solutions eliminate the problem of hardware obsolescence and costly software licensing and lifecycle management. Make sure that your partner regularly updates their solutions, and as new features become available they can be deployed on a per-user basis or to the entire company so that you can take advantage of them.
- Built-in Disaster Recovery - Most businesses have a disaster recovery plan for their data systems, but many don't have one for their phones and communications systems. The cloud model provides an embedded continuity plan that's built into your implementation, not just a bolted on as an afterthought. Cloud-based solutions allow you to protect your business communications, simply and cost-effectively. Choose a solution that offers redundancy and enables automatic failover to alternate network links for business continuity.
- Offers Managed Services - A well-managed unified communications system just works reliably all day, every day. The most critical element in delivering high quality reliable services is the ability to monitor and manage all communication services and connections from the end device through the cloud, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Select a vendor that can take the daily complex operational and management headaches off your plate so that you can focus on your core business.
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