2014 was a banner year for cloud computing. The technology has firmly moved into the mainstream and achieved widespread adoption – for example, a recent IDG study found that 69 percent of enterprises have cloud-based applications or infrastructure in place now, up from 57 percent in 2012. Cloud deployments are likely to become even more widespread in the coming year.
However, that does not mean that a no-holds-barred move to the cloud is the best possible choice for each organization's every need. In most cases, yes, cloud solutions are the ideal option, offering a range of benefits otherwise unavailable when firms rely solely on on-premise technology. Yet there are certain ways in which legacy, on-premise solutions can prove superior.
"Hybrid UC combines the best features of both cloud and on-premise options."
The realm of unified communications serves as a case in point. Countless companies are likely to consider a cloud-based unified messaging solutions in the coming year, but for many of these organizations, a hybrid UC system would be the better choice. In many ways, hybrid UC combines the best features of both cloud and on-premise options.
What the cloud offers
First, it's worth looking at why cloud-based UC is such a powerful choice for so many companies.
Cloud UC, just like all cloud services, will typically prove to be both more cost-efficient and useful for organizations than its legacy counterparts. Thanks to the as-a-service, pay-as-you-go model, cloud solutions have little to no upfront startup costs – businesses can begin to use these assets without first purchasing and installing costly hardware and other equipment. Once the cloud is up and running, companies only pay for the cloud services they actually use, thereby maximizing efficiency.
Equally important is cloud UC's usability. Cloud solutions can be accessed anywhere, anytime by authorized personnel as long as they have a working Internet connection. Such availability is becoming increasingly essential as employees strive to perform more of their work from outside the office. Whether working from home, the road or a satellite location, employees need to have access to robust communication solutions to remain productive.
Mobile solutions are essential in this capacity, and cloud-based UC is the ideal platform for such services, as Unified Communications Strategies contributor Arthur Chang recently highlighted. He pointed out that a cloud vendor can much more easily integrate its UC with a wide range of mobile devices than an on-premise service provider can. This is part of the reason why Chang expects to see a major breakthrough in cloud UC solutions in 2015.
Considering all of these advantages, it may seem like cloud-based UC is a no-brainer. However, there are a few reasons why this is not always the case.
Most importantly, many cloud-based UC solutions may have a weakness in the form of their data connection between the cloud itself and the customer's location. If this link is less than 100 percent reliable, as is often the case, then the organization may experience disruptions to its UC system. Such interruptions can have a serious, damaging impact on the company's ability to communicate and collaborate both externally and internally. Not only will this undermine productivity, but it will also tarnish the company's reputation.
That is why a hybrid cloud UC deployment is often the superior option. With a high-quality hybrid solution, organizations can experience the greater reliability and security inherent to on-premise UC options while still taking advantage of the cloud's affordability, accessibility and flexibility.
Specifically, organizations should look for hybrid cloud UC options that feature a local node that can guarantee uninterrupted service in the event of a cloud network failure. Such downtime is exceedingly rare in a high-grade cloud solution, but a hybrid offering eliminates the risk of service disruption entirely.