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A Buyers Guide to Unified Communications

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The cloud is perhaps the great equalizer in technology, making advanced technology easily accessible to even the smallest companies. The number of cloud communications solutions has increased, giving SMBs more options than ever. But not all cloud solutions are created equal. It is important to carefully evaluate which cloud option is the best for your business.

There are three categories for cloud communications.

Private cloud communications enable flexible, software-based UC applications that are hosted internally, within a company’s on-premise technology infrastructure. In fact, many SMBs leverage a private cloud solution to deliver a single, common communications experience across the entire organization.

Private cloud solutions reduce some capital expenditures and on-going maintenance costs, but do not provide the cost-savings of a public cloud solution. Some companies favor a private cloud to maintain control over the software and particularly to safeguard sensitive customer data.

Public cloud communications refers to UC services that are delivered by a third-party provider via the Internet. This can be a Unified Communications-as-a-Service or UCaaS offering with pay-per-use pricing. This model is especially attractive to companies that may need to suddenly scale services up or down due to seasonal spikes in business. The public cloud virtually eliminates hardware costs and is seen as the most cost-effective for many businesses.

Hybrid cloud communications offers the best of both worlds by combining on-premise, private and/or public cloud services. The hybrid model allows a company to keep sensitive applications or data on-premise in a central location while also leveraging the private cloud and even public cloud applications as part of the communications solution. This is an especially attractive solution for many SMBs that are migrating to the cloud, but looking to make a smooth and gradual transition. A hybrid cloud communications solution allows a company to dial in cloud functionality at its own pace.

The cloud is much more than a check mark on the short list. Today’s solutions are highly differentiated and SMBs should assess options closely. A good cloud solution will not only meet business needs today, but also stretch to meet emerging new objectives.

 Not all providers offer the full range of cloud options. Make sure you don’t get locked into a path that isn’t right for your business. At ShoreTel we have a full range of cloud solutions that are already helping SMBs take on much larger competitors and succeed. Find out more here.