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Case Studies for Hosted Communications Apps: Are You Ready?

We are on the cusp of seeing cloud computing, virtualization, data center economics and the flexibility of services-based models drive the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market. These are exciting times for the CaaS space. Our consulting practice at Leaden Associates focuses on the cloud as one of our core areas--the interest and growth in this market is significant. I have had the opportunity to facilitate a Webinar on this topic for NoJitter/Enterprise Connect, a hosted seminar for Interop NY, and our practice is in the process of facilitating the deployment for a 6,000+ endpoint enterprise.

So naturally CaaS/hosted communications is going to be an important topic at Enterprise Connect this year too. I’ll be moderating a session entitled, "Case Studies for Hosted Communications Applications," Monday, March 26 at 3:15 PM–4:00 PM. Attendees will walk away with strategies that will help with cloud-based Communications as a Service/CaaS (or UCaaS) deployment and making the decision to move in that direction.

Gartner reports that the current market size for CaaS Hosted Communications Apps is $700M and projects it will grow at a 36% CAGR to $3B by 2015, just a short 36 months away. IP Telephony and UC in the cloud is here and is beyond the hype stage. There are, however, lessons to be learned in this early adopter stage of deployment. These lessons from the trenches are key for anyone considering a Hosted UC environment. UC in the cloud is not just for the SMB any longer.

We are very fortunate bringing together 4 enterprise users, early adopters in this market segment, to share with you their insights, lessons learned, and strategies for deploying a Hosted Communications solution. We are excited to bring together:

* Rick Johnson, Vice President Information Technology, Hendrickson, a premier global manufacturer and supplier of truck and tractor parts, headquartered in Itasca, IL.

* Scott Chambers, Chief Operating Officer, Pacific Business Centers (PBC), a provider of on-demand offices with 14 locations in Northern California. He also serves as Chief Infrastructure Officer for, a fast growing network of touchdown (i.e., hoteling) office space for mobile workers with 250 locations throughout North America.

* Paul Staehlin, Director of Operations, EMS, Inc., a full-service contact center providing outsourced customer support.

* Jerry Witowski, Vice President, Information Services Business Management, Sealed Air Corporation, a new global leader in food safety and security, facility hygiene and product protection. With more than 30 years of IS experience, Jerry is focused on Global IS Finance, Sourcing, and Vendor Management.

During the session we will focus on some of these key areas:

* The cloud is here in the UC market as a real, longer term offer and solution to the enterprise community. The cloud helps facilitate the introduction of Unified Communications to the user community without the "headache" of managing another set of applications in the enterprise, thus delegating responsibility (and therefore accountability) to the cloud provider. We'll be exploring the question of how these panelists and their enterprises perceive where the cloud is in the maturity timeline, and why they decided to move in this direction. What management headaches did they want to remove in their environment? What role did the equipment in the cloud and the headache of moving such equipment off their premise play in the panelists' choice for a UC hosted solution?

* Telecom and VoIP/UC is not a core competency of IT, nor is it a core application, and is different than more traditional software models, including ERP, Oracle, and SAP among others. Telecom is simply not aligned with IT because the application, in most cases, is owned by the core business unit, while IT is the custodian. Many IT departments are looking to "delegate" Telecom away from their daily responsibilities. It's simply a headache they would rather not deal with. How did these enterprise users succeed at their deployments as a component of IT? What hurdles did they have to overcome?

* Capital available for many enterprises is, at best, difficult, for upgrading and replacing entire infrastructures, and the cloud provides enterprises the choice of an operations-centric model vs. a more traditional capital-based model. What issues did these enterprises run into regarding the costs and ROI side of their deployments?

* The cloud-based model is often an all-in-one solution and an all eggs-in-one-basket approach. In most cases, the VoIP/UC cloud solutions provider will supply the MPLS network along with the hosted VoIP/UC solution. How did these enterprises obtain the hosted UC solution? What term contract/commitment length did our panelists sign up for? 24, 36, 48, 60 months, or more? What terms have these panelists signed up for and how did they protect themselves contractually?

During this session we will discuss the market drivers, newer applications available, areas for ROI, project scope considerations, and considerations for strategically deploying a CaaS solution. Attendees will hear first-hand the enterprise experiences, caveats, and best practices for next steps in the evaluation and deployment of a hosted UC solution.

We look forward to seeing you at Enterprise Connect and the Hosted Communications Apps session on Monday March 26, 2012. If you are able to attend, please be sure to take a few moments after the session to meet each of us and spend some one-on-one time to answer any of your specific questions. See you there!