the cloud

You can’t have many conversations these days about IT and not have the cloud come up as part of the discussion—and voice applications are no exception. One of the most important fundamentals to understand is that there is no one cloud.

There are many different clouds and many different types of clouds. There are private clouds and public clouds, community clouds and distributed clouds. There are clouds established to provide services and there are clouds that exist simply to get to those services. And, these clouds are often interconnected and overlapping, resulting in hybrid clouds.

The buzz today, however, is all about public clouds and specifically cloud computing. Now just about every application imaginable can be cloud-based and every software company either has a cloud solution or will very shortly. And they all want to sell it to you. For business owners and managers, there are several primary advantages to moving certain applications and functions to the cloud:

  1. Reduced capital costs—by eliminating purchases of expensive server hardware, investment can be minimized.
  2. Reliability—although individual servers can be built with redundancy, high availability and/or in server clusters, the cost to do so can become prohibitive for an individual organization. Cloud-based services typically are built with this kind of reliability and the cost is spread amongst all the users.
  3. Remote and mobile workers—for companies that support workers outside of their headquarters, cloud services eliminates the need to establish secure remote access and reduces the bandwidth requirements at the location to support these workers.
  4. Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity—more and more emphasis is being placed on having plans in place to recover from a catastrophic event at a company’s headquarters. By putting services off premise, employees can be relocated more quickly and/or work from home.
  5. Licensing simplicity—there is no need to audit software licenses with cloud services. As a paid user, you have a license.
  6. Upgrades —both the costs and hassle of upgrading server hardware and/or software applications are eliminated.
  7. Lower support costs—maintaining server hardware and software has become more and more complex resulting in high support costs, either for in-house or outsourced support staff. By moving applications to a cloud, these costs becoming the responsibility of the service provider.

There are, of course, any number of organizations, especially small-to-medium size businesses (SMBs), that have modest, relatively stable IT needs that enable them to operate perfectly well with legacy IT platforms, accounting systems and other business process applications for which moving to the cloud provides no significant operational or financial advantage. However, depending upon the application, they may not have a choice other than a cloud subscription service when it’s time to replace or upgrade an aging application because suppliers now prefer the subscription model for the reasons noted above and often no longer offer the traditional model.

To learn more about the cloud and how it can benefit both large enterprises and SMBs, download our white paper, Clouds, VoIP and Unified Communications. If you’re interested in putting the cloud to work for your organization, check out our hosted cloud services.