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Beware of Hosted VoIP Pretending to be Hosted UC

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August 14, 2012

Beware of Hosted VoIP Pretending to be Hosted UC

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Know the difference between hosted voice-over-IP (VoIP) and hosted unified communications (UC) solutions.

That’s the warning from Marty Parker (News - Alert) of UniComm Consulting. In a blog post last week, he noted that the self-provisioning AvayaLive Connect seemed suspiciously like a VoIP calling plan that just happened to have basic turnkey PBX and light UC functionality built in. While video calls and instant messaging were built into the offering, it didn’t work with external providers or the federated instant message networks.

It is UC-light, basically.

“A similar phenomenon may be growing in the large enterprise market,” he wrote. “Dozens of voice network carriers are offering various versions of hosted IP-PBXs in what appears to be a lead-in to their transmission services ranging from MPLS to SIP trunks to T1/E1 TDM services.”

In the process, customers are starting to get watered-down hosted UC.

“For what appear to be reasons of simplicity, administration and cost, few of these hosted enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offerings include a broad range of Unified Communications (News - Alert) capabilities,” he noted in the post.

“Don’t be fooled,” he warned. “The term Unified Communications in most of these hosted VoIP offers may be just window dressing on a business VoIP service or may include a limited selection of UC features, but they are not fully featured UC systems.”

Hosted VoIP makes little sense for enterprise customers compared with the benefits and cost savings of hosted UC when used to optimize business processes, according to Parker. It also is not staying current with a world that has moved from phone and email to texting, instant messaging with presence, and peer-to-peer voice, video and collaboration.

Enterprise customers would be better served by either using smartphones instead of hosted VoIP or by using an actual hosted UC offering.

“Smartphones are already hosted telephony services,” he wrote. Companies could take advantage of relatively low rates on enterprise cell plans, and in the process they could use a better basket of UC services that naturally exist on smartphones. All cellular plans include texting email and some form of instant messaging, and smartphones also are excellent at UC through offerings such as Skype Mobile, social networking apps such as Facebook (News - Alert) and LinkedIn, and cloud services such as Google Docs and iCloud.

But better still, go right to a hosted UC offering; don’t mess around with hosted VoIP masquerading as hosted UC. He suggested looking into Google Docs with Google voice for public network calling; Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Lync with Skype (News - Alert) and/or a voice partner for public network calling; Cisco WebEx and Jabber; or IBM Social Business with Skype for public network calling.

“To really get the benefits of hosted Unified Communications, go directly to the hosted UC offers,” he wrote.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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