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Cloud Communications, With a Caveat or Two

If you buy into the latest vendor hype, you'll come to the belief that cloud architecture is heaven sent for your enterprise's communications and collaboration needs. But beware: Your fall to earth may be painful -- and, as Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, pointed out in a recent No Jitter post, cost is what's likely going to send you into a freefall.


Overall, companies that move UC and collaboration from on-premises to cloud architecture will see first-year costs -- on capital, infrastructure, and operational spending -- increase nearly 50%, noted Gareiss based on results of her firm's recently released 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study involving feedback from 723 organizations. Wanting to dig into that startling figure and other study data, we invited Gareiss to share more insight as our guest this week's episode on our No Jitter On Air podcast.

If there's one thing Gareiss would like enterprise communications and collaboration decision makers to be cognizant of, it's that cloud is more expensive than an on-prem alternative. Her experiences presenting Nemertes data as part of the Enterprise Connect conference program over the years bears this out. She recounted:

  • "I remember the first time I said this at an Enterprise Connect session ... most of the audience looked at me like I had three heads. By the next year about a third of the audience was agreeing with me. By last year, maybe about half the audience was, and this year even more, so it's kind of nice to see that validation."

Common culprits of increased operational spending are staffing, subscriptions, network transport, and security audits, as Gareiss explained. I encourage you to read her No Jitter post, "Cloud UCC Cost-Savings Fallacy: What You Need to Know," for a more granular breakdown of operational spending, and tune into the No Jitter On Air episode, "Takeaways & Tips on UC&C Spending," for additional insight, including cloud costs by type of provider (pure play vs. legacy UC, for example) and a look at on-premises considerations, as well.

In the meantime, here are three takeaways she shared during our podcast chat:

  1. "Don't go to the cloud to save money, because you'll be disappointed."
  2. If you do go to the cloud, consider using software-defined WAN to help offset the increased network costs of such a move. Heck, she added, think about using SD-WAN even if you're not migrating your communications and collaboration systems to the cloud.
  3. "When you're looking at anything [to do] with unified communications and collaboration, take the time to run a cost analysis." The range of costs is really broad -- on a per-unit basis from $454 at smaller companies to $2,581 at larger companies, she said, citing Nemertes data. "Consider all the costs, not just the obvious ones." So this would mean taking into account spending on things like staffing, partner management, user awareness, and business interactions, she added.

And here's one more bit of Nemertes data I'll leave with you for further contemplation. If you haven't shifted to the cloud yet, you're not alone. The majority of companies that participated in the Nemertes study still rely on an on-prem platform for UC and collaboration -- 47% being entirely on prem, and 10% have an on-prem/cloud mix, Gareiss said. The shift to cloud is happening, to be sure, but not at a rapid clip.

The moral: Being a believer is OK, but you don't have to sacrifice your company's well-being by making the move to the cloud before you fully understand what you're getting into.

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