Will 2011 be the Year of Cloud-based UC?

UC

Cloud-based UC has gotten off to a rough start. Nemertes finds that only 8% of firms are using hosted VOIP/UC. Another 12% are evaluating it for potential purchase, and most of these are small companies looking to purchase a cloud-based solution solely to minimize up-front costs – the same kinds of companies who often bought Centrex services many years ago.

However, several trends lead me to believe that 2011 will be the year that cloud-based UC goes mainstream. First, we’re seeing more and more companies asking us about the potential to leverage cloud-based services to reduce infrastructure investments and operational costs. And it’s not just the SMBs. Thanks to announcements from Cisco, Siemens, and service providers such as AT&T, BT and Verizon, cloud services for large global enterprises is almost a reality (though we find that most current offerings are still restricted to geographies such as North America, Europe, or Asian countries).

Secondly, we’re starting to see consolidation. For example, West Corporation last week bought hosted UC/VOIP vendor Smoothstone. Are other acquisitions of smaller vendors on the horizon? Possibly.

Finally, as the cloud matures companies are realizing savings in other areas, while accepting the viability of the cloud for hosting business critical applications (Amazon’s recent outage not withstanding).

Add all these together, and enterprise IT managers should evaluate hosted services as an alternative to on-prem offerings.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.