Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
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Eric Krapf | February 25, 2016 |


Cloud Communications: State of the Art and Future Prospects

Cloud Communications: State of the Art and Future Prospects The Cloud Communications track at the upcoming Enterprise Connect offers an in-depth overview of hosted UC, a unique cost analysis, and so much more.

The Cloud Communications track at the upcoming Enterprise Connect offers an in-depth overview of hosted UC, a unique cost analysis, and so much more.

I don't know if cloud is going to take over enterprise communications -- but I know that I know a heck of a lot more about cloud communications than I did a few days ago.

I just spent the last couple of days going through presentations for Enterprise Connect, and the thing I'm most excited about at this point is the incredibly high-quality, detailed, and insightful presentations we've got for the sessions in our Cloud Communications track. I want to talk about two here: an overview of the cloud/hosted market by Elka Popova, UC&C program director at Frost & Sullivan, and a unique analysis of cost factors in cloud communications from Phil Edholm, president of PKE Consulting.

Elka's presentation delivers a huge amount of information about everything you'd want to know about the cloud/hosted marketplace. Specifically, she covers:

  • How to ask the right questions of providers
  • Criteria by which you should compare providers
  • A taxonomy of the players according to which segment they come out of (telecom players like AT&T, pure-play UCaaS providers like 8x8 and RingCentral, software/IT companies like Microsoft and Oracle, etc.)
  • A pie chart showing North American market share (Hint: If it were a real pie and you were real hungry, you'd call dibs on the slice marked "Other"; everything else is basically a sliver.)
  • All the features you can expect in a cloud communications system
  • A comparison of multi-tenant and multi-instance architectures
  • Customer "value points"

That last bullet refers to a Frost & Sullivan survey that asked enterprises what they valued most and least in a cloud service, on a scale of 1 (not very important) to 5 (very important). Not surprisingly, security, reliability, and price ranked highest. That broadly echoes findings of our own No Jitter survey on cloud communications from last year, where security, loss of control, and cost were the major areas about which respondents expressed skepticism.

The other presentation I examined, Phil's, takes a look at where we could be headed in terms of the natural pricing trends that happen in the broader environment of cloud-based services. Phil offers a detailed product lifecycle cost analysis for premises-based communications systems, then proceeds to show how the basic economics of the cloud could change that equation significantly.

Based on the example of Salesforce in the CRM market, he suggests that the cost to provide (not necessarily to buy) cloud UC could drop by an order of magnitude as cloud communications infrastructures scale. That could then lead to a world where communications becomes just another "cloud franchise," as Phil calls it. Other cloud franchises he cites are retail (dominated by Amazon and Google); entertainment (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu); business productivity (Microsoft and Google), etc.

One thing I like about these two presentations is that they complement each other really well. Elka's is very much rooted in the here and now and where things are going in the next months. Phil's is a powerful analysis of the impact the cloud could -- emphasis on could -- have on communications. (I can't help noticing that "could" is an anagram for "cloud." Seems apt for communications and lots of other segments.)

Elka's presentation also points toward the main obstacles to the cloud becoming host to a "franchise" in communications: Enterprises still aren't sold on the cloud's ability to deliver uninterrupted, secure service at a better TCO than what they can and do provision themselves, on prem. If your Netflix is down, you're not happy but you're not out of business as a household. Communications is another matter.

Cloud providers will argue that this doubt on the part of enterprises doesn't really reflect the reality of the risks -- but whether it does or not, I'm 100% certain that it's a real thing. It may be surmountable, but the cloud providers have yet to win the argument. They'll be making it in a big way at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2016, where our Cloud Communications track is bigger and -- I'm confident -- better and more substantial than ever before. I'll be interested to hear how the discussions go, and I hope you'll be there to hear them as well.

portable Register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price or a free Expo Plus pass.

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