3 Questions Before Jumping in to Cloud-Based Communications

    There are plenty of vendors selling premises-based unified communications solutions, and even more selling cloud-based solutions. Most have strong arguments why one is better than the other. At Mitel, we offer leading solutions for both, and that positions us more objectively about which model is best. Mitel pioneered private cloud UC implementations, and we also offer a broad portfolio of hosted services.

    Many organizations are confused about the cloud, and our objective is to help align their requirements with the correct deployment model. After having this conversation hundreds of times, a pattern has emerged, and there are three key questions which best reveal the right path.

    • Does the application meet my business requirements?
    • How do I want to deploy the application?
    • How do I want to pay for the application?
    • Does the Application Meet My Business Requirements?

    There’s a common assumption that applications are equal among deployments, but that simply is not the case. I encourage organizations to understand the role the application plays in the business. Most applications can be broadly grouped into utility or differentiated groups.

    A utility application is an application that does not drive business differentiation from competitors. These can still be business critical, but do not drive a competitive strength. When evaluating deployments for utility applications it is important to note that “good enough” is acceptable.  The application must meet the threshold of requirements, but in a world of limited resources there is little justification in demanding the best. Instead, focus the evaluation on the price and service levels for applications that meet the “good enough” bar.  A popular example of this is how firms compare Google Apps to Microsoft Office.

    Some applications deliver far more competitive differentiation. These applications provide competitive advantage. In this case, good enough applications really aren’t good enough. The organization must complete a careful evaluation in order to choose the best application. These applications can also affect business processes with significant ramifications. Many of our customers view their Contact Centers as a differentiated application. Regardless of the deployment model chosen (premises, private or public cloud), organizations generally require tighter control over strategic applications.

    How Do I Want to Deploy the Application?

    Never before have we had so many choices. In Mitel’s case, we offer our UC solutions in the following deployment models:

    • Integrated appliance. The hardware is optimized for the application.
    • Industry standard servers. Allows organizations to standardize or reuse available resources.
    • Virtualized on VMware. Our applications play well with other business applications, allowing an organization to leverage infrastructures for multiple services.
    • IaaS. Mitel also offers VMware as a service. Gain the benefits of private cloud on our infrastructure. Mitel has done the heavy lifting regarding data centers, hardware and application optimization.

    Public cloud: We also offer the same software we sell as a service.

    Hybrid solution: Combine on-premises with cloud services to realize the best of both worlds.

    What is best for a specific organization depends largely on the unique combination of strengths, challenges and objectives. The preferred deployment model should align with the strategic objectives of the overall organization and/or those of the IT function. Also, remember, the deployment option selected does not need to be a long-term decision. Expect this decision to change as the strengths, challenges, and objectives change within the business.  Make sure selected solutions allow graceful changes.  Mitel allows customers to move licenses, devices and configurations among our deployment models.

    How Do I Want to Pay?

    Different models have different financial ramifications. Some customers prefer the traditional model of purchasing through capital acquisitions. However, the cloud offers flexibility with pay-as-you-go models. Accountants recognize this approach as an operating expense, which may be preferable in some situations. Creative combinations also exist such as buying the average, and using the cloud for peak requirements—effectively renting overflow capacity as needed. Key considerations when weighing these options include the application lifespan.

    When I take customers through these three questions, the right model for them usually emerges fairly quickly. However, the right model frequently is based on a snapshot of current objectives. Be sure to give heavy consideration to flexibility, as the rate of change—particularly in technology—is more likely to accelerate than slow.