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Should your UC be on-prem, hosted, or cloud? Do you know?

Steven Karachinsky

In the world of Unified Communications (UC)—Cisco or otherwise—there is, like any other technology, choices to be made and compromises to be worked through. If you’re lucky, the choices you make lead to a well-defined present and future. And there lies the biggest challenge. Whether you choose on-prem, hosted, or cloud—the choices you make today will ultimately impact your future.

For instance, take on-prem as the first example and, for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s Cisco. Now, Cisco on-prem UC is by definition a great way to go—it translates to endless custom configurations and therefore endless possibilities. In fact, it enables companies to bend it to their respective wills, ensuring that every process is perfect for that particular company’s wishes.

But there is also the downside. On-prem UC infrastructure of any kind relies on two very important factors: the human element of time and talent, and the monetary side of upkeep applied to hardware and software.

The time and talent issue should always be a concern. IT rarely gets the credit it deserves, and never gets kudos for a job well done when everything is running smoothly. However, if a system experiences any glitch whatsoever, IT is there to take the immediate and undeserving blame. The question becomes, with so much pressure on IT people to tackle business-driving projects, support, and everything else under the sun, why are they also being asked to manage UC when it could be out-tasked and managed for them on-prem?

This is where the Managed Services option comes in that benefits many companies. An entire team of experts (like us) who manage everything at all times as if they were a part of the team. Better yet, that team also can work seamlessly with internal talent, while alleviating the more cumbersome tasks that take IT away from more pressing issues.

But there is the upkeep on gear and software. In an age where ever-green technology options exist, is it worth spending the money on on-prem UC infrastructure at all? If you were to make the decision today, I’d say don’t do it. The cloud is a far better option in the long run. It takes care of all of the upkeep and upgrade nightmares, opens up endless possibilities and sets the stage for an entire future of digital transformation possibilities. But that’s a “I’m making a decision today” scenario. What of those companies that made a decision five years ago? Where do they go?

Migrating to the cloud after spending an enormous amount of money on on-prem equipment, not to mention talent, is not something that any company should walk away from. However, it does present an opportunity for a better, more civilized approach to managing UC: the hosted service scenario. This is where a company that specializes in UC solutions (again, like us) can migrate their entire infrastructure to a Tier 1 datacenter hosting environment—maintaining all the benefits of owning one’s own gear, while simultaneously experiencing a new world of possibilities.

In a hosted environment, control remains with the company—the host merely manages everything for the company. That means the same single-tenant, fully customized environment, the same benefits as the Managed Services model mentioned above, but with the added benefit of equipment management alleviating the pain associated with the time and headaches of physical maintenance, upgrades, and more.

Finally, and as mentioned, cloud is always the best choice, especially in 2020 and beyond. But that path to migration is not always easy. It too takes professionals to create a migration plan and goals to ensure seamless transitions to those new exciting worlds of possibilities. And whether that leap is a staged scenario with precursory steps that include on-prem to hosted then to cloud, day-one hosted then to cloud, or on-prem straight to cloud—anything is possible.

For those who are happy avoiding cloud altogether, but still wish to have all the benefits, that’s all possible as well. In fact, here’s this week’s challenge: ask me the toughest technical or business question you’ve got regarding any of these options. I will guarantee I have the answer you need. Contact me through LinkedIn.

September 15, 2020

Steven Karachinsky