Unified Communications Featured Article

UC and the Cloud: Still Tricky, but Still Attractive

September 13, 2011

There were hardly a smattering of seats left when the “UC in the Cloud: Understanding the Benefits and Challenges” session started this sun-baked morning in the Austin Convention Center, and continued with standing-room-only as industry thought leaders gathered to share ideas on what are today’s advantages and hang-ups when it comes to unified communications and the cloud.

Led by Frank Stinson from IntelliCom Analytics, the session during ITEXPO West 2011 tackled such weighty issues as infrastructure challenges, reasons why organizations should or should not make the move, and the important differences between the private and the public cloud.

Brad Forsythe of Interactive Intelligence noted that from a solutions perspective, he has seen significant growth in infrastructure. He doubts that the latest developments will take over the existing infrastructures, but that there are certain appealing aspects of the cloud that are still vital considerations for businesses, especially the quickness with which an organization can deploy a cloud solution.

Speed is absolutely one of the most appealing aspects of any “all-cloud” solution, as the panelists discussed how to reconcile “all-cloud” with “hybrid” solutions. Companies that do not have large IT staff capabilities are also attracted to cloud solutions, as heavy IT requirements are eliminated when deploying all-cloud solutions. Jeff Wissing of Adtran stated that “working in the cloud does not require businesses to maintain large IT staffs, and it enables them to add features over time – two aspects that are quite attractive.”

Yet Nigel Trueman of Siemens Enterprise Communications reminded us that “what goes up into the cloud must come back down. You must guarantee quality of service,” and that cloud computing providers are still having issues in this arena. He continued, “You need to be able to manage it thoroughly and to migrate your existing investment through your existing infrastructure. So there are challenges there.”

Another challenge the speakers touched on was the ever-popular notion of reliability. No matter how attractive the solution, the reliability question is a constant concern. Trueman noted that it’s not just about resilience or redundancy either, but availability as well.

Wissing commented that he thinks it’s about the customer’s ability to innovate. “The reliability is there, but it’s up to the customer to be able to actually integrate and innovate.”

Ultimately one audience member suggested that it appears as though the majority of cloud-users are employing hybrid solutions, and that the “pure” cloud, as she put, is not yet fully realized.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place NOW, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Juliana Kenny graduated from the University of Connecticut with a double degree in English and French. After managing a small company for two years, she joined TMC as a Web Editor for unified communications. Juliana currently focuses on the call center and CRM industries, but she also writes about cloud telephony and network gear including softswitches.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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