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Join us at VoiceCon to Debate the Merits of Hosted and Managed UC

Can a market that has been slow to take off for years really hit record numbers in seats and revenues in 2010 and beyond?

This year at VoiceCon Orlando, I'm trying something new: a session without a single PowerPoint slide. During the session on hosted and managed UC, taking place on Wednesday March 24 at 8am, the panelists and I will spend the entire time hashing out the merits of cloud-based services for unified communications, and answering audience questions.Those of you who read my posts regularly know I am one of the most bearish analysts on the issue of hosted UC. I understand the value of hosted services--I just don't see why a market that has been slow to take off for years will suddenly hit record numbers in seats and revenues in 2010 and beyond. The question I always ask here is, "What's changed?"

When it comes to hosted services, UC is an interesting animal, because certain components of it have been delivered over the Web for years--indeed, in some markets, hosted services dominate delivery models and revenues. For instance, Web conferencing continues to see about 80 to 85 percent of revenues derived from SaaS offerings. But if you look at the core capabilities of UC--voice communications, presence information--they are traditionally delivered on premises in the enterprise, and that hasn't changed, despite the fact that hosted offerings have been in the market for years.

To embrace hosted UC, companies must embrace the idea of hosted IP telephony services, as well as hosted IM/chat capabilities. And all our evidence suggests they are not inclined to do so. The North American hosted unified communications market totaled about 19,000 seats at the end of 2008, and is likely to grow to about 2.6 million users by 2014--about 5% of the overall UC market, in terms of seats. In 2008, only a handful of service providers, most of them very small, had deployed or were in the process of implementing a complete hosted UC application package. These include CallTower, Cypress Communications, Engage Incorporated, Orange and Verizon.

Managed services are a little different. Because they allow companies to keep communications technology on their premises but rely on someone else to manage and support part or all of the operation, managed services are likely to appeal to more organizations as they head down the road toward complete UC, since that requires a significant amount of integration and manipulation, as well as on-going, real-time network management. Outsourcing that to a third party can allow an IT department to focus on more critical issues--assuming there even is an IT department in the first place.

We want to keep this session interactive. Whether you plan to attend, I would love to hear the issues you would like us to address. Please post your comments and questions below, or, if you prefer, email ([email protected]) me directly with your suggestions.

I look forward to seeing you in (hopefully sunny) Orlando!Can a market that has been slow to take off for years really hit record numbers in seats and revenues in 2010 and beyond?