Three Big Reasons to Consider Hybrid Infrastructure for Business Communications

3 Big Reasons to Consider Hybrid Infrastructure for Business Communications

3 min read

Michael Brandenburg

Michael Brandenburg | February 20, 2024

For years, IT and telecom decision-makers' key focus was moving communications to the cloud. Industry watchers drove the conventional wisdom that suggested that all communications would be handled as a service in some unknown data center.

The notion of an idyllic cloud utopia starts to break down with the realities of the significant investments organizations have made in premises-based solutions and the common perceptions of communications being too important to relinquish control. The result is that while demand for purely cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions continues to grow, many organizations have hesitated to commit to cloud-only options. For these organizations, cloud-based solutions lack the customization available with on-premises platforms and the desire to retain management and control of their communications assets.

At the same time, shipments of new on-premises unified communications (UC) systems and licenses continue to shrink each year. While some of this decline can be attributed to macroeconomic factors and the impact of UCaaS, other contributing factors include the complexity of deploying and managing a modern full-stack UC platform. More than just PBX switches, today’s advanced UC platforms support telephony and audio, video, and web conferencing, text messaging, and now team collaboration managed across multiple servers.

Additional work is needed to configure firewalls or session border controllers to allow remote users to access the same capabilities as on-site users. This complexity of on-premises deployments has compelled many businesses to adopt less-than-ideal cloud offerings or hold on to legacy PBX systems.

A third option balances cloud-based services' simplified deployment and manageability with the enhanced security, control, and customization options available with on-premises solutions. Hybrid deployments, which feature an integrated mix of cloud and on-premises communications services, can offer a best-of-both-worlds solution for many organizations. Under a hybrid infrastructure, an organization can deliver a communications strategy tailored to its needs and requirements.

3 Advantages of a Hybrid Solution

1. Innovate Today, Migrate Tomorrow

The key benefit of a hybrid approach is that organizations can deliver enhanced communications capabilities, such as video conferencing, mobility, and team collaboration, all from the cloud while retaining their existing on-premises platform for telephony services. For example, Mitel’s collaboration and meeting feature set is built in the cloud, leveraging collaboration services exposed via its CloudLink microservices architecture, whether the base call control is deployed on-premises or in the cloud: call control on-premises and applications in the cloud. Companies can manage their growth by deploying new UC and contact center (CC) deployments in the cloud with monthly recurring (MRR) commercial structures while maintaining existing deployments on-premises: leverage previous investments for long-term ROI while managing growth via cloud OpEx financial models.

In addition, companies that look to expand enterprise communications to less-served frontline workers can expose basic telephony and collaboration features via a serverless cloud-based Unify Phone deployment approach recently acquired from Unify to again leverage on-premises UC and serve a new segment of users within the enterprise with a common cloud UC experience. Each one of these solutions enables a customer to leverage previous on-premises investments, advance its communications capability with cloud, and defer the full UC migration to tomorrow.

2. Different Needs, One Platform

For many organizations, the challenge with going “all-in” on cloud or on-premises is accommodating the use cases that represent exceptions to their broader communications requirements. For example, a particular business location may need to keep telephony on the premises to maintain calling during an Internet outage or to comply with specific regulatory requirements that prevent cloud deployments. Conversely, small remote sites or branch offices might be too small to deploy on-premises gear, making them ideal candidates for UCaaS. Regardless, these scenarios create problems for organizations that limit themselves to an all-cloud or a fully on-premises environment. A hybrid architecture aims to accommodate a diversity of needs. A mix-and-match approach to meet specific technology or user requirements is inherent in a hybrid deployment.

3. Everything Has Its Place

It is important to remember that while unified communications are typically sold as a solution bundle, the UC stack is often a discrete set of loosely integrated communications applications. This creates a unique opportunity for hybrid communications architectures. In a hybrid approach, organizations can, for example, continue to deploy mission-critical call control on-premises while moving less critical applications, such as voice mail services, to a centralized cloud solution. Cloud-friendly UC services, such as mobility or collaboration services, can be integrated with on-premises telephony to optimize audio conferencing for the organization, enable remote access to a user’s business line from a mobile device, and even allow for programmable communications through cloud-based application programming interfaces (APIs).

Taken to the next logical step, a hybrid architecture can enable completely orchestrated communications for organizations. Under such a service, a company can consolidate a multi-vendor communications environment and communications services under a common cloud platform to securely expose the myriad of these resources for vertically aligned business applications or Internet of Things (IoT) integrations. For example, in addition to integrating with horizontal third-party video conferencing and collaboration apps in Bring Your Own collaboration or meeting app mode, customers can integrate their on-premise UC or CC solution to screen share providers for better CC customer service, voice biometrics providers for voice authentication or vertically aligned artificial Intelligence (AI) providers, all delivering via the cloud, and available via the Mitel Solutions Alliance.

Final Take on Hybrid Infrastructure

Frost & Sullivan believes that effective business communications strategies require a holistic view that leverages a mix of integrated services, both in the cloud and on-premises, which best meet the organization’s business objectives. Organizations should consider the communications assets they already have in place and new services to enhance employee productivity, enhance customer engagement, and streamline business processes and workflows. For many organizations, hybrid communications create the best of both worlds approach to meet their needs.

Michael Brandenburg

Michael BrandenburgSenior Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan

Michael covers infrastructure, programmable communications, and unified communications and collaboration services as part of the Information and Communications Technologies group. Before Frost & Sullivan, Michael covered the enterprise networking space in editorial roles at TechTarget and Network Computing and as an enterprise networking analyst for the competitive analysis firm Current Analysis. Michael’s early technology background includes over 15 years of technology experience, serving in developer, system administrator, and IT management roles.

Ready to talk to sales? Contact us.