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The Hybrid Cloud Opportunity

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The Hybrid Cloud Opportunity

October 03, 2014
By Sandra M. Gustavsen
Analyst, Business VoIP

It’s a transitional time in the business telephony market. In years past, businesses have largely installed telephony equipment on-site to handle voice and unified communications (UC) needs, including traditional premises-based IP-PBX (News - Alert), contact center, messaging and other on-site UC solutions. Now, there is a viable alternative — one which is growing in popularity as more and more businesses consider  subscription-based hosted/cloud services for telephony and UC to replace aging telecom equipment or as the best solution for a startup company that doesn’t want the expense of purchasing and installing equipment or the ongoing administration and maintenance that follows.

Nearly all of the traditional business telephony vendors are on board with the hosted/cloud UC trend, and are quickly adding hosted UC services to their portfolios of premises-based solutions. Whether a business decides to subscribe to a hosted service or prefers to purchase and install phone system equipment, a vendor that offers both hosted and on-premises options will have a solution to meet any requirement.

Moreover, traditional business telephony vendors are in the perfect position to offer a hybrid solution that makes use of both hosted services and on-site solutions. A “hybrid cloud-prem” telephony and UC solution can ease a variety of business challenges. For example, a business with an existing phone system already located on-site may find that subscribing to a call recording service or a hosted contact center capability is far more convenient than actually installing additional hardware and/or software for these applications. Or, perhaps a company wants to continue running a critical business application locally while taking advantage of a pay-as-you-go hosted service for telephony call control. Or, consider a larger enterprise that has significant investments in equipment. Here, a staggered transition with deployments of hosted/cloud services for remote sites while continuing to use existing premises-based telephony systems at main locations will likely make the most sense.

These, and other scenarios, make a hybrid cloud-prem solution a perfect fit.  See below how a number of traditional business telephony vendors are already offering business customers a “hybrid cloud-prem” alternative.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has launched OpenTouch Personal Cloud to deliver applications-as-a-service for any size enterprise and any vendors’ infrastructure (an overlay approach for an on-premises or cloud-based solution). The first three cloud-based applications include audio/Web conferencing, Video Store (video storing/sharing) and the Team Share file sharing tool and are available through business partners in Australia, France, Germany, Spain, U.K. and the United States.

NEC uses the same software stream (UNIVERGE 3C) for both a premises and UCaaS Cloud Services offer which lends itself well to hybrid environments in which a business can flexibly deploy on-site equipment and subscribe to hosted/cloud services as needed - the same familiar features are available in either deployment model. The cloud service can act as a disaster recovery solution for a premises-based UNIVERGE 3C system, or vice versa. Or, businesses that have installed the UNIVERGE 3C at a main office can take advantage of the cloud service at its branch locations. NEC is also introducing some cloud-based applications that will be available as a monthly subscription to customers that have an NEC telephony system (or non-NEC system in some cases) installed on-site.

Tadiran Telecom is offering a hybrid cloud approach by which customers with a distributed network can utilize the company’s Aeonix UC&C platform, hosted on Amazon Web Services (News - Alert), as a disaster recovery option for locally-deployed Aeonix servers (an Aeonix image is implemented from the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Web service). The combination of AWS as a private cloud option and Aeonix servers installed on-site creates a hybrid cloud solution that eliminates points of failure and facilitates business continuity. Tadiran Telecom is currently using the Aeonix hybrid cloud deployment internally between its own international offices and cites cost savings and improved reliability due to the Amazon connection.

ShoreTel is releasing two cloud-based applications that are available as-a-service to customers with a premises-based ShoreTel (News - Alert) IP-PBX: ShoreTel Connect for ShoreTel Sky Fax (an email-to-fax service) and ShoreTel Connect for ShoreTel Sky Scribe (a voicemail transcription service). Customers can take advantage of these capabilities simply by paying a monthly subscription fee rather than deploying and maintaining any additional hardware and/or software on-site. The new cloud applications are in controlled release, with general availability expected this fall. A third cloud-based ShoreTel Connect service, ShoreTel Mobility, is in beta testing.

Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Telecommunication Systems Division has introduced Hybrid Cloud Networking among the company’s hosted/cloud telephony UC service (Toshiba (News - Alert) VIPedge) and its on-premises business phone systems (Toshiba IPedge and Strata CIX). Toshiba customers with multiple offices can flexibly mix the two solution types and take advantage of telephone feature transparency, including 3- or 4-digit dialing, across all locations regardless of the deployment. Toshiba is also offering standalone cloud-based applications for customers with a Toshiba telephone system deployed on-site. With the new VIPedge Application Service, the company’s Unified Messaging and Unified Communications (News - Alert) (UCedge) applications are now available “as-a-service” for a monthly subscription fee, eliminating the need to install additional hardware and/or software for these applications on-site.

Zultys is offering its hosted MXvirtual system as a business continuity option to back up on-premises MX phone systems or the MXvirtual virtualized software-only version of the phone system. The back-up solution is hosted by Zultys in its data centers, and customers pay a monthly fee depending on number of users; larger organizations can opt to rent a backup system.

It’s an exciting time in the business telephony and UC market as we witness the shift toward subscription-based hosted/cloud services for telephony and UC. In this transitional period, subscribing to hosted/cloud services for some applications and using on-site solutions for others is a win-win for businesses and for the vendors that serve them. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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