The Cloud Helps Businesses Confront UC Complexity

Carl Weinschenk spoke to In-Stat Analyst Dave Lemelin.

 By Carl Weinschenk
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Carl Weinschenk spoke to In-Stat Analyst Dave Lemelin. Lemelin and In-Stat released a study last month, "Global Unified Communications Emerges From the Cloud."

Weinschenk: What's driving UC right now?
Lemelin: What's driving the movement toward the cloud is that there is in fact no single lead player in unified communications. There are a lot of different strong players who work together to bring solutions to end users. In a lot of cases, the key is trying to come up with solutions that integrate mobility and IP. Trunking is an important factor and enabler.

Weinschenk: But, increasingly, companies are looking to outsource some or all of the tasks.
Lemelin: Particularly in small and mid-sized businesses, they are looking for managed or hosted solutions for a couple of reasons. These solutions are getting fairly complex. Even though end users have better and better tools in terms of the ease of use, what happens behind the curtain can be fairly complex. A hosted solution is attractive to them because they don't have the internal resources and skills to manage. The second factor, particularly in these economic times, is that equipment-based solutions often involve capital, not just managing those resources or capabilities. The front end costs are often difficult, particularly in the small and mid-sized markets.

Weinschenk: To some extent, is the use of the term “cloud” is replacing more mundane terms, such as “hosted” or “managed” solutions?
Lemelin: Yes�What it really equates to in a lot of cases is a step away from reliance on the PSTN. A lot of this is driven by SIP trunkingand end-to-end IP connectivity -- or as much IP connectivity as possible.

Weinschenk: UC adoption seems uneven.
Lemelin: The technological capacities are moving faster than the felt need by the end user. These capabilities have been here for a few years. But wireless integration with UC, VoIP integration with UC [and other advances] still are in a fairly nascent stage. VoIP is moving at a faster pace than UC in some cases. It really gets down to end users finding value in the solutions. What's frequently happening is that they get the capability before they really understand the true value.

Weinschenk: But it catches on among people who use it.
Lemelin: Once they experience it and see the benefits of collaboration combined with presence, the fact is that what is happening over IP is fairly meaningless to the user. It is meaningful to IT managers because it's a more effective and efficient way to enable these capabilities. Once the business end users experience these types of capabilities, we'll see much more of a hockey stick in terms of growth when it comes to UC and IP being integrated, particularly when you begin throwing mobility into the puzzle. Fixed mobile convergence is pushing out PBX and Centrex capabilities to mobile handsets. It is all part of this equation of how capabilities in unified communications and IP are all converging.

This article was originally published on Dec 7, 2009
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