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Considerations when deploying cloud communications

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Although a number of decision-makers still see the benefits associated with owning and maintaining an in-house business phone system, a large portion of executives are recognizing the advantages of migrating those solutions to the cloud. Not only will using cloud phone services reduce the expenses associated with keeping voice platforms on-site, it will also make managing and upgrading the technology less complicated, which is especially important in today's competitive and fast-paced private sector.

A recent report by InformationWeek highlighted the ongoing need to migrate voice services to the cloud. While approximately 57 percent of enterprises are still using premise-based telecommunication services, roughly 13 percent are using hosted offerings. Another 30 percent have a hybrid strategy in place, which supports a blend of cloud-based and on-premise tools.

Despite the many financial and operational benefits associated with replacing an old phone system and migrating services to a hosted environment, early adopters are quickly realizing that a lot more factors go into the process, InformationWeek stated. Therefore, it is important that decision-makers take the time to carefully plan the migration and select the right vendor, as failing to emphasize these steps will only result in long-term problems associated with using a hosted voice platform.

Finding the right provider

Although a hosted PBX system can introduce a number of benefits to the enterprise, executives must be sure the solution is able to meet mission-critical objectives. InformationWeek stated that reliability is among the top characteristics to investigate, as even the most advanced phone system with poor availability will not be able to provide any substantial benefits {reword}. In fact, the report noted that voice was only second to email as the top communication method used in the workplace, suggesting that telecom tools must be accessible for an organization to thrive.

In other cases, enterprises may find it less complicated to ease into the cloud rather than dive headfirst. InformationWeek said hybrid solutions, which combine both on- and off-premise technologies, allow large enterprises with disparate branches and departments to make the transition safely and efficiently. By taking this approach, decision-makers can develop a phased deployment strategy, moving new solutions to the cloud and keeping legacy services on-site. To mitigate problems with this type of endeavor, executives need to consider where they want to be in the long run, as this will make it easier to migrate VoIP services to the cloud.

A separate report by Gartner highlighted the evolving hybrid cloud market, noting that the hosted services are impacting everything from storage to communications. By taking a hybrid approach, enterprises may be setting up a new paradigm to be used in the coming years.

"Hybrid IT is the new IT and it is here to stay," said Chris Howard, managing vice president at Gartner. "While the cloud market matures, IT organizations must adopt a hybrid IT strategy that not only builds internal clouds to house critical IT services and compete with public [cloud service providers], but also utilizes the external cloud to house non-critical IT services and data, augment internal capacity and increase IT agility."

In the coming years, the cloud PBX will undoubtedly gain momentum in the business world, especially as the overall market for cloud services evolves, expands and continues to invite innovative opportunities for growth. By taking the time to assess internal objectives, decision-makers will likely make it easier for their organizations to find the appropriate vendor and deploy the technologies their companies need to survive in today's increasingly competitive private sector.