Harnessing the Cloud to Maximize Unified Communications Investment. One Source Networks White Paper

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1 Harnessing the Cloud to Maximize Unified Communications Investment One Source Networks White Paper

2 Harnessing the Cloud to Maximize Unified Communications Investment As the world becomes hyper-connected and focused on efficiency, enterprises are increasingly turning to Unified Communications (UC). This burgeoning interest is helping UC make the transition from hype to reality. As such, now is the optimal time for enterprises that haven t yet invested to begin evaluating UC offerings and how they can best integrate those offerings into their business. For those who are undergoing this process, examining cloud and hybrid UC may be the ideal starting point. Definitions of UC can, and often do, vary; however, this term may be simply defined as the integration of real-time and non-real-time communication. Real-time services include instant messaging (IM), presence, telephony and video conferencing, while non-realtime communication includes unified messaging components such as integrated voic , , SMS and fax. UC isn t a singular product but a set of them. These products or applications are often supplied by different vendors and are accessible via different devices and media types but reached through a common platform. The benefits of UC are vast but, most notably, include the ability to better and more effectively collaborate, no matter where key stakeholders are located. This can spell tremendous benefits for a business in terms of productivity, business competitiveness and cost savings. The Deployment Decision Unified Communications can be deployed in several different models: cloud, on-premises or hybrid (a combination of cloud and on-premises deployment). While we will be mainly exploring cloud and hybrid deployments, it is also useful to discuss on-premises deployment as a point of comparison. From an enterprise standpoint, on-premises UC deployment is currently the most common model deployed. This type of deployment can be managed by a service provider or by the enterprise itself. There are some real benefits of deploying on-premises; the primary reason is control. Since on-premises UC is in the hands of the enterprise, it also allows for more flexibility and customization. This type of deployment is also frequently favored when security is a concern. What is particularly noteworthy, however, is that many enterprises are beginning to relinquish some of this control the hallmark of this deployment model by turning to a service provider to manage their UC solution. In fact, as a recent study by Dimension Data found, There s even greater interest in the managed service model of on-premises UC. In two years, 34-42% of large businesses will seriously consider UC as a premise-based, but managed service. So where does this leave cloud and hybrid deployment models? As it turns out, they are just beginning to come into their own. Each year, analyst firm Gartner publishes Hype Cycles, a research report that highlights key technologies from conception to adoption and plots them across five stages. This methodology gives stakeholders a more informed view of an ideal time to invest in a technology and how to sift the hype from the reality. According to Gartner s most recent Hype Cycle, while both UC and Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) are reaching maturation, cloud and hybrid deployments are still in somewhat nascent stages, with hybrid UC projected to reach full-scale adoption in five to ten years and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in two to five years. As these deployment models continue to move toward maturation, it is important to have a full understanding of their capabilities, benefits and challenges, so enterprises can ensure they maximize their UC return on investment (ROI). 2

3 Unified Communications Meets the Cloud According to Gartner s most recent Hype Cycle, while both UC and Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) are reaching maturation, cloud and hybrid deployments are still in somewhat nascent stages, with hybrid UC projected to reach full-scale adoption in five to ten years and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in two to five years. Unified Communications from the cloud is often referred to as UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service). In this model, Unified Communications is owned and operated by a service provider and delivered via either a multi-tenant or a multi-instance (virtualized) architecture. Users access the applications over an IP network, generally the public Internet. While still a considerable distance from wide-scale adoption, UC boasts some impressive statistics, with UCaaS subscribers projected to grow by an average [of] 76% per year over the next five years, according to Synergy Research Group. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) have traditionally been adopters of UCaaS versus large enterprises, primarily because of its simplicity from a cost and technology perspective. SMBs frequently don t have the budget to spend on dedicated UC IT resources both personnel and infrastructure. UCaaS allows them to benefit from UC capabilities without the complexity. However, large enterprises are starting to sit up and take notice as well, particularly because UCaaS benefits are so far-reaching, and there is such a wide variety of vendors and service providers to choose from as the market continues to rapidly grow. While the benefits of cloud UC are vast, they most notably include: Significant CAPEX (capital expenditures) savings and predictable OPEX (operational expenditures). Because UCaaS is hosted and managed by the service provider, companies don t need to invest significant capital to realize the benefits of UC and justify a UCaaS investment. Additionally, since the service is offered on a utility or usage basis, a company can much better project how much the service costs from month to month. Better focus on core competencies. Companies often spend a disproportionate amount of time and money managing IT tasks that could be much more efficiently handled externally. Like other as-a-service models (e.g., Infrastructure as a Service), UCaaS enables companies to better focus on strategic business tasks versus purchasing, upgrading and managing infrastructure. Advanced tools across locations. With UCaaS, there is consistency across capabilities whether the user is working out of headquarters, at a branch office or on the road. This really delivers on the concept of unified communications, since everyone is able to fully realize all the capabilities of UC Flexibility. Cloud UC can easily become hybrid UC if a company needs to keep certain applications on-premises. Additionally, there is a wide range of service providers and offerings to choose from, ready to meet different budgetary and business requirements. Finally, companies have the option of choosing between a multi-tenant and a multi-instance environment. 3

4 Hybrid Unified Communications is often described as the best of both worlds. With this deployment model, enterprises can keep certain applications on-site (for sensitivity or other reasons) and move less critical ones to the cloud. UCaaS Architecture A Closer Look Service provider UCaaS offerings generally fall in one of two camps: multi-tenant or multiinstance. In a typical multi-instance architecture scenario, a service provider will virtualize a server-based, on-premises PBX (Private Branch Exchange) using a virtualization technology in a data center. Each customer will get his or her own instance (software) but share the virtualization equipment (hardware). With multi-tenant architecture, the customer shares both hardware and software. The service provider enables each customer with access to the same computing capacity, networking resources and even UC application instances as other customers in a service provider s data center. Both models have their pros and cons. Multi-tenant architecture is more scalable, since infrastructure is shared and, thus, more cost-effective since these infrastructure efficiency savings can be passed along from service provider to end user. This model is also more fault tolerant, which makes it easier for customers to test new applications. It is also easier for service providers to integrate B/OSS tools for one-instance/multi-tenant versus multi-instance architectures. However, multi-instance architectures have their benefits as well. The most prominent one is security. Many companies don t have the option of using a multi-tenant model due to sensitive information they may be handling. A multi-instance model enables a company to protect its data while realizing the cost savings of cloud. It also allows for a more customized solution versus UCaaS. Finally, enterprises, in particular, frequently worry about service and network reliability of multi-tenant UCaaS models, especially as they have primarily been geared to the SMB sector in the past. No matter which architecture they choose, enterprises can benefit from the unique advantages that UC from the cloud provides, such as the ability to meet business continuity objectives. 4

5 The Hybrid Approach Cloud and hybrid are not really separate deployment models per se; instead, hybrid is a subset of cloud, as it mixes both on-site deployment and UC in the cloud via a service provider. Hybrid is also often seen as an intermediate step to full cloud deployment. This could be particularly true for a company that may already use a service provider to manage its on-premises UC offering. Choosing to move some of its applications to the cloud with this provider, or another trusted service provider, might be the next logical step. But companies that are looking at this model might not know what they should deploy on-premises versus in the cloud or how to get started. Hybrid UC may be deployed by application type, location or business rule. With application provisioning, the enterprise chooses which UC components it wants delivered via on-premises hardware versus from the cloud. Location-based provisioning determines how communications applications are accessed based upon the user s location or the location of the office. Someone using videoconferencing may access it via on-premises infrastructure from one office and via the cloud in another. Finally, functional provisioning assigns application access to premises or the cloud via a business rule, which may regulate volume, time of day or user type. Hybrid Unified Communications is often described as the best of both worlds. With this deployment model, enterprises can keep certain applications on-site (for sensitivity or other reasons) and move less critical ones to the cloud. This enables companies to better adhere to strict regulatory requirements or company policies. At the same time, the company is able to reap significant CAPEX savings by running some applications from the cloud while maximizing existing investment in current infrastructure (i.e., premisesbased PBXs). However, hybrid UC does have its drawbacks versus cloud UC, namely integration of cloud-based and premises-based infrastructure, possible functionality inequalities for applications deployed in different ways, and the inefficiency of splitting management between the cloud and the premises. It is the latter that makes Unified Communications seem possibly quite not-sounified. Even so, its benefits often easily outweigh its challenges, and hybrid UC can be a smart choice for enterprises looking for an interim step to cloud-based UC. Making the Right Choice Deciding between hybrid and UCaaS can be difficult. If choosing UCaaS, enterprises might start with carefully investigating whether a multi-tenant or multi-instance architecture would better suit their business. Requesting information such as reliability and uptime statistics on considered offerings might also help with the decision. Regardless of the architecture chosen, by using a fully cloud or hybrid model, enterprises will be able to realize the true potential of Unified Communications through a simplified, cost-effective way to consistently access the communication tools their business requires across devices and geographies. 5

6 One contract. One bill. One source. What could be simpler? By reducing the complexity of network and supplier management, we help our customers innovate and grow. Massive shifts to mobile and cloud computing are changing the face of the communications landscape. It s time your network evolved to be faster, simpler, and better-performing. We simplify and streamline your internal processes, ensuring your focus stays on your critical business challenges. One Source Networks 6200 Bridge Point Parkway Main: (210) (888) Fax: (888) About One Source Networks One Source Networks is a leading provider of innovative managed communications solutions for the Fortune Delivering ubiquitous access to cloud-based voice, video, security and computing applications, as well as enterprise networking and infrastructure services, the company offers customizable, cost-effective and scalable solutions delivered on its fully redundant global network infrastructure with interconnection to more than 200 global suppliers. The OSN difference is simplicity, cost reduction and customer service focus that delivers all solutions under one contract, one team and one invoice. One Source Networks is a three-time winner of the Inc award, which highlights America s fastestgrowing private companies One Source Networks, Inc.

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