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Weighing Security, Convenience: Cloud vs On-Prem UCC

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weighing options
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Ever since the cloud burst onto the scene as a viable option, security-conscious organizations looking to deploy a unified communications and collaboration (UCC) platform have wrestled with whether they should do a cloud deployment or on-premises solution. While there are countless factors to consider, it's not always clear which solution is best from a security and compliance standpoint.
 
On one hand, a cloud-hosted UCC deployment is perfect for organizations looking to outsource operational responsibilities and defer to a third party for support; leveraging its security parameters and insurance policies in the process.
 
Old-school, on-premises solutions, meanwhile, traditionally lend themselves better to organizations with the resources, space, and know-how to run and own an in-house solution. For organizations with increased and more complex security requirements, an on-premises solution is enticing as it enables those groups to maximize control of their UCC security.
 
With all these considerations at play, it's no wonder that IT professionals are still debating which solution is best for their UCC deployment and security. Do they sacrifice their traditional on-premises security in the name of cloud convenience? Is that a risk too large to take? Or, need it be a risk at all?
 
The Perks of Being in the Cloud
The most immediate benefit of the cloud is its effect on IT teams. By trusting that their chosen provider has the staff, knowledge, and infrastructure to maintain their UCC solution securely, IT professionals' valuable time is freed up to focus on mission-critical work.
 
Couple this with the CapEx savings and scalability options offered by the cloud, and not only do organizations stand to boost their IT teams' efficiency, but they can also take advantage of considerable cost savings. The option to scale their UCC solution up or down as necessary, with no equipment costs, makes it an understandably attractive option. If they choose an on-premises solution, organizations would need to allow for not only the manpower and finances for continuous management of that UCC environment, ensuring it’s secure and compliant, but also the future costs of system updates and new equipment.
 
In addition, by making their cloud provider an extension of their team, organizations will be able to tap into new fountains of knowledge and support from that partner. This can be invaluable when it comes to mitigation, recovery, and other security issues.
 
Many cloud service providers are also devoted to continuously achieving security and compliance certifications, improving and expanding their security features, and staying abreast of all the latest developments so that organizations don't have to.
 
Finally, the potential scale at which application providers are hosting infrastructure for particular applications is typically larger than that of a single customer deploying the same application on its own premises. This increased scale often comes with additional benefits, such as automation of security updates and other procedures.
 
Pros of On-Premises Solutions
While there are many benefits for cloud UCC deployment and security, organizations shouldn't rule out the trusty on-premises approach just yet.
 
A large draw for this route is the control it offers organizations; when deploying on premises, the local IT team controls every aspect of the environment and security. By bringing this in house, many organizations can rest assured knowing their most valuable data resides only in locations that they understand and manage.
 
As an additional security measure, on-premises implementations ensure all data is segregated from other entities' data, resulting in no risk of unexpected application or permissions behavior that could otherwise expose data to another tenant on a hosted system. Hosted with cloud providers, this data could be affected by attacks on another tenant on the same hosted platform – with an on-premises deployment, this simply isn't a risk.
 
Security concerns vary in priority depending on the nature of an organization. Those in the financial sector, for example, may stand to lose far more in the face of a security breach compared to a local SMB. One such group that can't afford to skip out on security are telecom carriers.
 
The global telecom market is huge and complete with many small carriers that specialize in reselling routes from other carriers or entities. As a result, cybercriminals continually attempt to gain access to VoIP and UC systems with the goal of being able to initiate traffic on a fraudulent basis. Once they've gained access, the destinations they can call can be resold, and the carrier ends up carrying traffic for a host of others.
 
Security Front of Mind
In the current climate of security breaches and compliance demands, every organization should have IT security front of mind – and this is no different when it comes to UCC. While smaller organizations may opt for a cloud-hosted UCC solution in order to lower costs, increase efficiency, and ensure security protocols are kept up-to-date, larger organizations – particularly those with finances available – could benefit from creating their own environment, secure from any outside interference.
 
There are a multitude of decisions to be made, which is why organizations grappling with the choice between cloud and on premises would ultimately benefit from the guidance of a trusted provider. Only by leveraging a trusted partner, and tapping into its wealth of expertise, can most organizations truly understand the deployment choices based on their requirements, which best suits their model and will reap the most benefits in the future.

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