On-Prem vs. Cloud Video Conferencing: What's Right for You?
Many companies that invested in video conferencing infrastructure are rapidly approaching an inflection point. Over the next six to 18 months, their video infrastructure will face end-of-life and they'll need to plan a technology refresh and migration strategy before they lose support.
For some, this process may sound simple. After all, most manufacturers recommend an upgrade path when they retire their video conferencing infrastructure products, so why not simply follow their guidance? While this option may sound like an easy answer, consider whether it's right for your organization. This end-of-life process could provide a chance to reconsider your overall collaboration strategy.
Why Yesterday's Solutions Don't Cut It
The world has changed since your last major investment in video conferencing. Shifts in the way people work have unlocked incredible potential for better collaboration, productivity, and performance -- and tools have evolved to meet these changing needs. Not investigating the alternatives would be a disservice to your organization and, more importantly, your user community.
For instance, mobile workers and distributed workforces have driven demand for solutions that allow them to work from anywhere, and on any device. Teams want to join meetings quickly in a way that is convenient for them and expect a seamless workflow to follow them to each of their meetings. Modern work teams also need to meet with others who may use a different video conferencing solution, which has created demand for better interoperability between traditional room systems and desktop collaboration and productivity tools like Office 365 and G Suite. Lastly, the blurring of the line between Web conferencing and video conferencing has simplified the collaboration tool set, bringing the best features of both worlds into today's comprehensive solutions.
These few observations should tell you why it's hugely important to step back to understand your options and weigh them against the requirements of your users and organization. While it may be tempting to follow manufacturers' guidance, ask yourself whether the "latest and greatest" version of what you already have is actually setting your company up for success -- today and in the future.
Replacing Video Infrastructure: Cloud or On-Premises?
While there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" answer to this question, there are several factors to consider:
- Capex vs. Opex: This is not a new consideration, and the pros and cons of the Capex/Opex discussion are well understood. Cloud services (Opex model) can deliver better ROI on existing video conferencing investments in a flexible, recurring subscription model that scales up or down with you over time.
- Security: Perception is reality. If you perceive on-prem as more secure, or if your company's security posture is very strict, then on-prem may be for you. However, many of today's cloud services offer rigorous security and privacy standards. It's important to simply ask the right questions.
- Support: Support requirements change when one moves from an on-prem environment to a cloud-hosted environment. Rather than spending time fixing what is not working, IT teams can instead focus on helping users get the most out of the experience. Cloud video services often appeal to companies who were accustomed to managing their own video conferencing infrastructure (see this case study).
- Interoperability: This should be a key factor in your decision-making process. How will you protect your investments in video conferencing endpoints while embracing desktop collaboration and productivity applications like Office 365 and G Suite? How will you meet the requirements of a mobile and distributed workforce? While there are both on-prem and cloud options, consider a solution that breaks down communication silos.
- Innovation: While an on-prem solution will evolve with new features and functionality over time, it's safe to say they won't keep pace with the speed at which new and innovative features and functionality can be deployed in a cloud service.
- Aligned Objectives: One of the more pronounced shifts when moving from a hardware, transaction-based vendor relationship to a cloud service-based vendor relationship is the alignment of a win/win strategy. Usage, adoption, and customer satisfaction are critical factors that weigh in on renewals -- the ultimate report card for a service provider. To achieve success, end-users should have a seamless experience, whether meeting with others inside or outside their organization. Further, the collaboration tools should be flexible enough to evolve with the company over time.
The Time to Act Is Now
If your video infrastructure faces end-of-life, you have an exciting opportunity in front of you. History tells us that our industry is quite unique. Companies who want a high-quality, secure video experience no longer have to invest in and maintain their own infrastructure. Today, you have a choice. You can continue to invest in on-prem solutions to operate and maintain, or you can choose a cloud service that delivers the same security, quality, and performance you've come to expect.
Consider how this decision fits into your overall collaboration strategy, and whether that strategy is dynamic enough to meet users' needs both today and in the future. Whichever road you choose, the time to act is now. Plan your migration strategy today so you are prepared when your infrastructure support ends.