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Centralised VoIP architectures make it possible today to imagine Cloud-based telephony with central infrastructure hosted and managed by a vendor or an outsourcer at one end and business sites equipped with little more than telephone sets at the other end.

This trend is in line with broader trends to outsource IT services and also the acceptance that land-line telephone services are no longer the sole mode of communication as mobile phones and collaborative PC tools rise in use. As a result, the requirements for availability and in-house management are less stringent, except in certain sectors such as banking.

Today many businesses think of telephony as a service: it is less a matter of mastering the technical architecture of the solution than of having a guaranteed level of service availability and of the reactivity of the teams that manage the service. The financial model provided by Cloud-based offers is suited to this principle by spreading out costs to constitute a charge that forms a recurring cost that’s dependant on use. However, in the case of major corporate accounts the economic advantage of this model can be questioned because the size of these entities calls for dedicated infrastructure, even if it is in the Cloud. In these cases the operator will spread the investments made by a client over time, in other words proposing a leasing arrangement that might in the end result in a overall high net cost while still retaining a competitive total cost of ownership.

Another question to be raised concerns the capacity of these solutions to meet all customer needs. We do not have enough feedback and experience to say whether Cloud-based solutions pooled between several companies can offer specific or advanced functionalities such as mini call centers, filtering management and assistance, grouping of lines, etc.

Dedicated Cloud: a growing trend is for companies to contract with an operator that hosts and runs the infrastructure. Companies are increasingly asking for a financial model comprising mainly OPEX costs, even if the companies continue to own their infrastructure. Pooled Cloud: some vendors offer services at highly competitive prices. This seems to be a positive trend for mid-market companies; it remains to be seen if the same is true for major corporations.

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