As enterprises turn to the cloud, they must address issues around ROI, management, and deployment model.
Every enterprise IT professional I've spoken with over the last few months has said moving to the cloud is a certainty -- no longer a question of if, but how and when. With cloud adoption accelerating, vendors that haven't yet pivoted from the premises or refined their cloud strategies are scrambling to do so.
Some companies were early to the game, and cloud-based PBX providers that started out rather small have come up in a big way over the past few years. This includes niche players like 8x8 andRingCentral, which have been rounding out their cloud services portfolios, extending their reach overseas, and moving upmarket.
Big, global companies like Microsoft and Cisco are rapidly expanding their cloud services for voice, video, and collaboration, too. If one of the big vendors focuses their efforts somewhere, you know they're going all out. It speaks volumes they're so heavily invested in the cloud.
As a result of all this market activity, even those enterprises once reluctant to move to the cloud are beginning to test the waters by putting small groups of users into the cloud. If they see a good return on investment (ROI) and a positive user experience, it won't be long until we see thousands or even millions of users moving to cloud services. It's primarily a matter of whether or not it's a good investment and does not degrade the user experience. Ultimately, everyone is trying to figure out good strategies that work for their situations.
A key question that companies are asking themselves is how exactly they're going to manage the transition to the cloud. They've already invested a great deal in premises communications equipment and solutions. As users transition from premises to the cloud, they need to ensure that the user experience remains strong.
When you think about what's involved, organizations are basically switching their entire strategies of how to provide communications to their employees. Managing all of that is a huge deal -- it puts a large burden on IT departments to make this kind of change. Mission-critical communications simply can't go down. Managing the user experience is king, regardless of whether infrastructure lies on premises or in the cloud. If it's not acceptable or interferes with their productivity, they will find an alternative solution or simply stay on the old system, delaying the ROI, driving up costs, and negatively impacts IT operations.
How does IT manage the transition while keeping the user experience intact? What metrics can it use to monitor everything? If their experience isn't as good as it was before, users will abandon the solution provided by their companies and go somewhere else. (In fact, that's a pretty common occurrence.)
Multivendor and Hybrid Solutions
Multivendor and hybrid solutions aren't just buzzwords of the moment; they're cloud deployment models vendors are promoting and many enterprises are testing.
A hybrid solution model employs a mixture of cloud and on-premises infrastructure to satisfy an organization's needs. It might be ideal for some users to move to the cloud right away. Others (like contact centers, for instance) need to stay on premises. Other companies have long-term contracts with telecom providers for PSTN connectivity. Hybrid solutions take advantage of on-premises infrastructure and successfully marry it with cloud services.
Everybody likes to say they're on a single platform, but at the end of the day, most communications rely on multiple vendors. Single-vendor solutions simply aren't very common. For example, there are different manufacturers for network infrastructure (like routers, switches, session border controllers, PBX software, and accompanying hardware). Several different companies are involved with the components of a given solution. For that reason, multivendor solutions are here to stay, even when moving to the cloud.
Ultimately users vote with their usage and adoption of the solution. Therefore, managing and optimizing the user experience should be priority one. For successful UC deployments and cloud transition strategies, enterprises should ensure they:
- Assess and test their environments before, during, and after deployment or migration to ensure readiness and quality
- Proactively monitor quality and performance or conferences and calls, troubleshoot issues and find the root cause quickly before users are affected
- Create a long-term performance management strategy and solution that supports a broad set of vendors and will support them for their journeys to the cloud, regardless of when and how they choose to proceed
This post originally appeared on NoJitter.com as: Cloud Comms Question No Longer 'If' But 'How'