Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>

Zeus Kerravala | March 26, 2012 |


Day 1 of Enterprise Connect: Cloud Confusion

Day 1 of Enterprise Connect: Cloud Confusion Considering the relative immaturity of cloud UC, it might be too early to have definitive answers, but several good ideas came up.

Considering the relative immaturity of cloud UC, it might be too early to have definitive answers, but several good ideas came up.

My first day here at Enterprise Connect was highlighted by moderating a panel called "Choreographing the Cloud," which was intended to help the audience find the right mix of on premises and cloud based communications. The session had strong panelists with representatives from Alcatel-Lucent, IBM, Verizon Business, plus consultant Gary Audin of Delphi Inc., and it was one of the livelier panels I've moderated in a while.

Despite the liveliness, I don't think the panel fully answered the question of where companies should use public cloud, private cloud and premise-based solutions. Considering the relative immaturity of cloud UC, it might be too early to have definitive answers to that question. I do think though that it highlighted a number of issues as to why cloud hasn't been more fully adopted.

One of the first areas the panel probed on was the cloud value proposition. This was the most glaring hole in the cloud story. I asked each of the panelists why someone should consider cloud now and, across the board, I got answers that had to do with cost. True, it's lower cost and it becomes opex instead of capex and, in theory, should be cheaper to run than a premises solution. Gary Audin did point out that if you plan to keep the premises solution more than three years, it actually becomes cheaper to use a premises-based solution, which, in some ways, debunks the cloud value proposition.

Whether it's cheaper or not, I really don't like it when the focus turns to cost. If companies want to save money on telephony, call up your telco and hammer them on long distance. That's the easy way of knocking 10% off your bill. The focus of the cloud value proposition should be about doing things you can't do with premise-based communications. The most obvious answer here, and I was disappointed none of the panelists brought this up, is that cloud communications is a better solution for consumerization or "bring your own device".

Enabling a multi-OS, cross platform strategy is difficult, if not impossible with premise based solutions. In fact, this is one of the fundamental selling points of the Cisco HCS-based Sprint Complete Collaboration, which was announced earlier today at Enterprise Connect. I understand the solution providers want to use cost as a way to get customers interested, but if that's the main value proposition, the price will go to zero before anyone can monetize the investment. And that would be bad for everyone.

Another strong point raised, this time by someone in the audience, was around the interoperability and migration issues associated with a hybrid premise/cloud deployment. These issues would be the same for a multi-cloud solution as well. As everyone associated with this industry knows, interoperability between vendors is poor at best. When I talk about interoperability I mean more than just making calls and sharing presence info (although this can often be a challenge). Interoperability challenges such as creating a common dial plan, provisioning of users, change management, voice mail, etc. are all significant challenges in multi-vendor, hybrid environments.

Interoperability though could become the "killer app" for cloud services. If a cloud provider could provide full UC interoperability in the network, that would be a significant differentiator for cloud over premises. The cloud would become, in effect, the "Rosetta Stone" for UC. We're obviously a few years away from this, but it is a good stretch goal for the service providers. There are companies that do this for a subset of UC functionality such as GlowPoint and VidTel for video, but there isn't a cloud provider that does this for UC. I admit the ever-changing definition of UC might make this a utopian dream, but nailing voice, video and chat would be a good start.

The other notable topic of discussion was how to get started. There's obviously many ways an organization could get started and I felt fellow NoJitter colleague, Gary Audin, gave the best answer. His advice was to look at what UC capabilities the organization was missing and utilize those services from the cloud to shorten the time to deployment. He offered another suggestion as well, that a company could look at what skill sets they didn't have in house and use the cloud for that. So, cloud in this case fills an application or a skill set void. Of all the things I heard in the session, this seemed like the most actionable, practical advice for people looking at cloud UC today.


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.