- 10 Hot Big Data Startups to Watch
- 11 Unique Uses for Google Glass, Demonstrated by Celebs
- How to Export Your Google Reader Account
- How to Better Engage Millennials (and Why They Aren't Really so Different)
A range of small and large communications vendors are shifting their services to cloud-based delivery, giving customers the choice of having hardware that sits on their own premise, or accessing PBX and other unified communication (UC) platforms that are hosted by the provider or a third party. But some analysts say slow customer adoption points to customers being more concerned about managing their workers' mobile devices compared to traditional boxed communications systems.
BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE: BYOD exposes the perils of cloud storage
Communications systems that are hosted off-site or through a cloud offering are not necessarily new, says Forrester analyst Dan Bieler, but there has been a market progression during the past few years from managed hosting to cloud services. Cloud-based services are a next generation of hosted or grid computing, he says. Unlike a managed or hosted service, cloud offerings have a pay-per-use model, with the ability to scale up or scale down, and they're offered from a multi-tenant environment. That compares to a managed or hosted service, which is built to peak demand for individual customers and usually has dedicated resources for individual users.
Many of the big players in enterprise communications have some sort of strategy related to cloud offerings, including Ericsson, Microsoft and Cisco all pushing cloud products with "good momentum." "That inertia isn't always translating into sales though," Bieler says. He estimates that 1 in 10 enterprises use cloud-based communications services, a figure he expects will grow in the future. "It's not a mass market yet," he says. Where there is movement, he says, it's normally not for cloud-based voice services, but instead for an entire UC platform, which includes video, instant message and presence -- or allowing workers to see if other users are actively online.
Moving to a hosted or cloud-based offering can create savings that are commonly associated with the cloud, including making the system an operating expense rather than a capital expense and easier management for the user. A voice over IP (VoIP) can yield some savings in terms of international roaming and some increased capabilities but these savings vary depending on the customer, Bieler says. On the UC side, there is slightly more of a demand for cloud-based offerings because there is a larger infrastructure demand for such systems, which can reduce costs for the user if the system is hosted off-site.
Some vendors report slowly and steadily increasing interest in cloud-based solutions. Jamie Fichter is vice president of systems engineering at West Interactive, which advises clients on enterprise communication platforms while also offering a set of UC solutions. Over the past few years the company has increased its cloud-based delivery options for customers and he's seeing increased customer interest. "We're sticking our feet in the water," he says. West Interactive will work with customers to deploy cloud-based or on-premise communications systems.