Unified Communications 2016: Midsize and Public Sector Companies Embrace the Cloud

This is a guest post from GTRI partner collab9. After sitting on the side lines watching small companies reap the […]

By zivaro|March 10, 2016|0 Comments

This is a guest post from GTRI partner collab9.

After sitting on the side lines watching small companies reap the many benefits of cloud-based unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) solutions, midsize and public sector organizations finally are diving into these cloud services.

By 2020, 60 percent of IT professionals at public sector agencies expect cloud to be the de facto standard for all applications at their organization, AIIM found. Within midsize businesses, about 70 percent use or expect to use cloud this year, according to an IDC report sponsored by Cisco.

In the next couple of years, organizations across sectors and sizes will widely move UC&C implementations to hybrid and cloud-based infrastructures, according to IDG’s 2015 Unified Communications and Collaboration Survey. And while smaller firms initially led the movement, midsize businesses and government agencies at the federal, state and local level increasingly recognize they can reap similar benefits across their larger base of users, systems and internal IT professionals.

UC&C Cloud Drivers

Likewise, software vendors have enhanced enterprise functionality. Pricing continues to drop. Perhaps most importantly, technology implementations no longer are restricted to one person, one desktop. Employees at midsize enterprises and the public sector use a mix of mobile apps and multiple devices, often using unapproved cloud solutions to empower their work habits.

Add to this the federal government’s mandate to centralize data centers and increase reliance on cloud, and the time has never been better for cloud-based UC&C. All the factors are in place: user demand, proven solutions and well-qualified service providers.

Unlike small firms, midsize enterprises and government agencies typically need a cloud-based UC&C solution that integrates with existing infrastructure such as Microsoft Office 365. Although Microsoft has its own offering, market leader Cisco is an ideal complement to Office 365 due to its expertise in unified communications, collaboration, cloud and networking.

By centrally selecting a cloud-based UC&C solution, midsize organizations and public-sector agencies eliminate the patchwork of shadow IT systems likely to spring up. These piecemeal systems are costly to support, may not meet an organization’s security or infrastructure mandates, and, because they’re not standardized, don’t deliver seamless collaboration or communication – the very underpinning need of UC&C.

Organizations are increasingly sophisticated in their cloud knowledge and adoption. They’re investing more in cloud-based email to support virtual, distributed employees; scrutinizing security and compliance of cloud solutions and providers; and investigating microservice architectures that advance applications made up of independent, autonomous and modular units.

Cloud UC&C, therefore, is both one of the last traditional applications to move to cloud and one of the leading enablers of the next generation of cloud enablers for midsize and public sector organizations.

Cloud Choice

Large agencies leery of ceding total control of communication solutions to a third party are leading adoption of the Contractor Owned Contractor Operated (COCO) model. Under this approach, an agency runs its solution on its own hardware or a partner’s hardware. If a problem arises and UC&C is running in an agency’s data center, then the contract ends. During normal operations the public sector organization gets the benefits typically associated with cloud – OpEx billing, regular equipment upgrades, reduced headcount and extra security.

Other midsize and government agencies are selecting hybrid cloud for UC&C. Hybrid, which many experts tout as the best of all worlds, allows organizations to “balance isolation, cost, and scaling requirements,” according to Gartner.

No matter the form, in this age of distributed workforces midsize businesses and government agencies need proven enterprise-quality unified communication and collaboration solutions designed for the cloud. With cloud-based solutions from vendors like Cisco, these organizations can then economically and powerfully keep employees connected, wherever they work, whenever they work.

Kevin Schatzle is the CEO of collab9.

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