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Here comes the sun: UC cloud computing service providers

Choosing a cloud-based unified communications provider isn’t easy, and cloud computing providers aren’t doing much to help matters. The lack of unbiased, apples-to-apples comparisons of cloud-based UC service provider offerings and specific service descriptions from providers has left many enterprises confused.

Regular SearchUnifiedCommunications.com contributor Gary Audin of Delphi, Inc., has teamed up with Webtorials.com to produce the 2011 Sourcebook of Hosted and Cloud-Based VoIP and Unified Communications Services. This comprehensive, 100-page sourcebook is based, in part, on a survey of UC service providers conducted by Delphi, Inc.

According to Audin, the confusion about UC cloud services stems from a lack of consensus on what to call the service and grows from here. Some service providers call their service hosted unified communications, and other cloud-based communications providers use Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to describe their services.

The table below shows the more common names used by survey respondents:

Service Name Response Percentage
Hosted/cloud VoIP 65%
Hosted VoIP 72%
Virtual PBX 46%
Hosted/cloud call center 46%
Communications as a Service (CaaS) 52%

Audin and his team identified 210+ providers of hosted/cloud communications services. Of these providers, only one in three offer UC services, and only about one half of providers offer mobile support. The following table shows the percentage of five top UC services supported by UC cloud computing providers.

Service Offered Percentage of Providers Offering Service
Unified Communications (UC) 63%
Unified Messaging 61%
Voice/Audio Conferencing 78%
Web Conferencing 30%
Instant Messaging 37%
Mobile Support 54%

To ensure reliable, secure UC cloud services, a carefully crafted UC cloud computing strategy is imperative — not only to simplify the evaluation process, but also to identify and lock-in administration policies. Audin urges enterprises to create an RFI that includes all UC services that are needed now as well any anticipated services. The completed RFIs will help enterprises structure a checklist and narrow the number of potential providers to a short list of viable candidates.

Webtorials.com and Delphi, Inc., have created a UC and VoIP services questionnaire to help businesses frame service provider offerings. The 2011 Sourcebook of Hosted and Cloud-Based VoIP and Unified Communications Services will further help enterprises size up cloud-based UC service providers. A vendor-neutral resource of the UC cloud-based provider market, the Sourcebook details the various business models used by responding service providers, the specific business services they provide, maintenance and support policies and much more.

Part 1: The Cloud Business Value and Provider is now available. Once you’ve registered, the next three installments of the report will be emailed directly to you.

In the meantime, check out Audin’s article on UC cloud computing contracts.

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