If Not Cloud, Then What?

Over the past several months, No Jitter has run several posts suggesting that many enterprises will not be as quick to move to cloud communications as the industry hype might lead you to believe. For example, Robin Gareiss of Nemertes Research pointed out that her research shows cloud TCO is significantly higher than it is for on-prem deployments, an opinion we've heard many experts concur with as we reach out to the Enterprise Connect community in advance of EC2018.

We've also had many of our experts tell us they're not convinced that any large enterprise with a complex, unique, almost-bespoke communications system could ever get the degree of customization required from a UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) provider that's trying to deliver an off-the-shelf service.

On the other hand, while your premises deployment may be customized, it's likely to be pretty inflexible, at least in terms of adding new features and functions rapidly. In our just-completed third-annual cloud communications survey (details coming soon on No Jitter), agility -- i.e., the ability to add features, functions, and/or users quickly to respond to business needs -- was the number one advantage respondents cited for cloud communications. We've had several enterprise folks tell us that users are judging them by how quickly they can roll out a new feature that's needed.

The larger concern with CPE is, what enterprise wants to make a sizable investment in a premises-based communications system these days in the first place? We know that's not where the major vendors are directing their development efforts. Even more important, are you really going to make another 10-plus-year investment in a CPE platform? Are you really going to bet that today's UC platform will fit the bill in the year 2027?

In the last big industry transition -- TDM to IP -- enterprises faced the same dilemma as they do today: how to go about making the investments necessary to run the communications at the core of their businesses while not sinking a lot of money into dead-end systems. But the TDM-to-IP evolution was a lot more straightforward: You were moving from telephony over TDM to the same telephony over IP. Gateways did a nice job of protecting your legacy investment, which wasn't going to be outdated as quickly as most believe today's systems will be within a decade.

So the bottom line for today: If your ancient Nortel system just can't sweat it out another year, what do you do?

Back when voice over IP first emerged, we were told that running voice (and then video) as an application on IP networks would revolutionize communications. Then we sat around and watched communications stay pretty much the same for years. But now that check is about ready to be cashed. What's it going to mean for your enterprise?

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