Enterprises that elect to implement unified communications (UC) to improve interaction among members of an increasingly distributed workforce must quickly make another tricky decision -- whether they want to tackle the task themselves or entrust the process to a third party.
After weighing factors ranging from capital costs to management preferences, many companies are choosing to turn to managed service providers for UC deployment and support, or even pursuing fully outsourced hosted unified communications, Software as a Service (SaaS), and cloud computing-based options. Yet the managed service providers/hosted unified communications route isn't for everyone.
Feature and customization limits, scalability questions and other concerns may lead some enterprises to on-premises deployments. But the move toward contracting with managed service providers for hosted unified communications services makes sense for enterprises eager to reap UC's cost savings and efficiency rewards without significant capital expenditure or overtaxing already thin IT departments. Reducing cost, simplifying processes and taking advantage of managed service providers' UC expertise are especially important as enterprises explore more bandwidth-intensive UC applications like video conferencing.
These days, of course, any exploration of hosted or managed solutions must involve cloud computing, and the UC market is no exception. How does cloud computing differ from technologies with similar goals, such as virtualization and SaaS? Which type of cloud computing setup best suits enterprise UC applications? Once enterprises have committed UC resources and applications to the cloud, what security measures must they take?
This comprehensive guide to hosted unified communications and the managed service providers that offer it looks at the pros and cons of using MSPs and going with a hosted UC deployment, how to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by cloud-based unified communications and more.
Hosted unified communications booming, and not just due to cloud hype
Companies of all sizes have started to view hosted unified communications as a viable option as vendors and service providers start to bring more mature products to market.
Managed service providers: Outsourcing unified communications applications
There are three options for managing enterprise unified communications applications: keeping them on-premises with either internal management or third-party management, or fully outsourcing unified communications to managed service providers.
Hosted unified communications vs. in-house UC deployment
Many enterprise organizations are considering hosted unified communications rather than in-house UC solutions because effective UC rollout and management can be daunting for even the most sophisticated IT teams.
Differences among cloud computing, virtualization, SaaS and SOA
Cloud computing, SaaS, virtualization and service-oriented architectures (SOAs) offer different approaches to reducing the IT costs of supporting business operations. Learn the differences among cloud computing, SaaS, virtualization and SOA and which technologies can be combined to increase their benefits.
Unified communications: Public vs. private cloud computing
Cloud computing security issues: Protecting your UC applications
Security has become pivotal for enterprises exploring hosted solutions like cloud-based unified communications. Learn how to tackle the cloud computing security challenges you'll face during implementation.
This was first published in September 2010