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Hosted, Managed, or Neither?

We'll hear more on this topic later today in another VoiceCon webinar, when Sandra Palumbo of Yankee Group will offer her findings (register here). Sandra has some great detailed survey data from enterprises, talking about the kinds of skill sets that IT managers believe may be missing in their staffs, and the sorts of tasks that they'd like to outsource. Not surprisingly, the main driver for doing managed services in the first place is the desire to turn internal staff loose on more strategic planning and executing, while the managed service provider handles the routine stuff.

That pretty much jibes with the way outsourcing has settled in across IT-it's more about out-tasking than wholesale replacement of IT staff or its functions with third parties.

Interestingly, Sandra's going to talk about the role that opex plays in the managed-services decision, which is also a topic that Robin Gareiss of Nemertes Research addressed in our last Webinar (archive here). Robin found that 63% of enterprises in Nemertes's research would adopt managed services by the end of this year, versus just 5.4% who said they already used hosted services, or planned to use hosted within 1 year.

Finally, we have a post on No Jitter this week from the incomparable Tom Nolle, and Tom drills down into some really important specifics that you should watch out for if you do opt to host any application in the cloud, but especially if the app has critical performance parameters, which voice most certainly does. As Tom puts it, "The decision to host any IT process is a decision that changes the risk profile of the application considerably."

"Hosting is very likely to be in the long-term future for everyone," Tom concludes, "but it's also clearly something that will demand more planning maturity and supplier support in order to be truly successful."

Now that Microsoft is making a push into "cloud computing," trying to offset the inherent advantages that competitors like Google have in that space, you're certain to hear more about hosting applications in the cloud. Whether this will touch the voice world is another matter, as the players who have the scale and technical ability to best support such services-the telcos-haven't pushed particularly hard on hosted IP telephony or UC to date. So you have to wonder if they'll be any more aggressive going forward.

If your enterprise is at the inflection point where IP telephony is about to scale from being a pilot/trial to becoming more widespread, now might be the time to look at managed services and hosted applications and see if there's a way you can use them to optimize resources and lower opex. That may not turn out to be the case for everyone, but it's worth checking out.