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Cloud unified communications carrying more clout

The cloud casts wide influence across unified communications. Applications, including communication APIs, team messaging and video collaboration, now fall firmly under the cloud unified communications umbrella.

"Everything's moving to cloud," said Irwin Lazar, a UC analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. "We see big, big shifts toward cloud unified communications."

Small and medium businesses, in particular, are helping fuel cloud unified communications trends. Web and video conferencing are applications now commonly found in the cloud. But "voice is still a laggard in terms of cloud adoption," Lazar said.

Hybrid is a migration step; it's not an end state. Longer term, people will go past hybrid and go to pure cloud.
Irwin Lazaranalyst at Nemertes Research

At the same time, larger companies are looking to connect cloud applications -- like team chat and web conferencing -- with their existing on-premises infrastructure. In these hybrid setups, Lazar said, organizations should look to leverage cloud where they need it.   

For instance, companies could use cloud unified communications in new or remote offices where they don't want to install infrastructure. The cloud applications could communicate with legacy infrastructure that's not fully depreciated yet. But hybrid systems can also pose certain challenges, such as additional performance management.

"Hybrid is a migration step; it's not an end state," Lazar said. "Longer term, people will go past hybrid and go to pure cloud."

In the video above, Lazar discussed cloud unified communications, hybrid systems and cloud-based video adoption at Enterprise Connect 2017.

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Transcript - Cloud unified communications carrying more clout

There's definitely some confusion about hybrid. What we see that makes the most sense for organizations today is to be able to leverage cloud where they need it -- so new offices, remote offices, where you really don't want to put any infrastructure out there, but have that to be able to communicate where you've got legacy infrastructure that's not fully depreciated, that it may take you a long time to move that out. So that's kind of the primary area when people are looking at hybrid, is mating on-prem and pure cloud, but then also now layering in cloud-based applications.
 
So if they have an on-prem voice platform and they want to mate it to Office 365, or Cisco Spark services mate it with an existing Cisco environment, those are kind of the opportunities for hybrid services. We find that it's always that challenge, it's additional management overhead, it's additional, "How do I do performance management when now I've got two different systems that I've got to worry about, plus the interconnections of those?" I think hybrid to me, in a lot of ways, is a migration step, it's not an end state. I think longer term, people will go past hybrid and go to pure cloud.
 
So with cloud federation, there's a couple different areas. First is federating different kinds of cloud applications. So, classic example is I've got Salesforce and I want to integrate my cloud communication services so that people can make calls, receive calls from within Salesforce -- that's almost becoming table stakes at this point. Beyond that, we're seeing companies that want to federate things like presence across cloud providers -- that's a little bit more of a challenge -- there's Nextplane that does that, Sameroom which was recently acquired by 8x8, that does team chat collaboration between cloud-to-cloud type services. So we're not seeing people trying to figure out, "How do I mate, say, Cisco cloud with an Avaya cloud, with a Microsoft cloud?" It's more, "How do I mate the cloud services so I provide a common front-end to my users? And then how do I potentially federate services with other businesses so I can build across value chains with partners, suppliers, etc.?"
 
We'll be publishing some new research in April on video conferencing. We're finding about 80% of organizations now are adopting cloud-based video services because they don't want to buy MCUs, they don't want to make this hardware infrastructure investment. About 60% are increasing the number of their rooms, mostly building into small meeting rooms, and it kinda goes hand-in-hand with cloud because if you're going to scale to go from a couple dozen meeting rooms to potentially hundreds, and drastically expanding video out to desktops, you don't want to have to spend millions of dollars to put in back-end infrastructure to connect them all. So cloud services, pay-as-you-go-type models make a lot more sense.  

So we continue to see a strong uptick in video, it's becoming pervasive. It's an expectation now that video should be available in pretty much any communication, collaboration application you buy.

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