Why jam more servers into a data center when you can get the UC and telephony tools you need in the cloud? That’s a question large companies are asking today in the “build it” vs. “buy it” decision process.

Luckily, there doesn’t have to be just one answer to that question. You can have a hybrid UC and telephony solution that combines what you have now with what you can get as a service from the cloud. (Read my blog about UC as a Service, or UCaaS.)

In fact, according to the November 2011 report, Gartner Predicts 2012: Successful UC Deployments Depend on Defining Organizational Objectives and Understanding Challenges,” businesses need to think of UCaaS as an emerging alternative or complementary addition to premises-based UC platforms.

Assessing the cloud alternative

With a hybrid UC solution, you can deploy new applications or support existing solutions when and where it makes sense for your business. Determining which solutions are good candidates for the cloud depends upon your business requirements.

But, as a general guideline, any of the situations below may represent areas where you could benefit by transitioning applications to new cloud-based services. For example, when legacy systems are:

  • Reaching end of life
  • Causing service problems and downtime
  • Costing a lot to maintain and support
  • Are hard to expand

Rather than upgrading the apps that fit this criteria, or buying new on-premises equipment, you can mix and match the UC telephony solutions you want to keep on-premises.  These can be combined with those you access via the cloud..

Getting the best of both worlds

A hybrid UC and telephony solution of on-premises and cloud-based UC services helps you introduce new capabilities, such as a single number that rings across fixed and mobile devices or seamless call transfers between devices. At the same time, a hybrid solution helps protect existing investments, so you can:

  • Support legacy UC and telephony solutions, like Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes and TDM/IP PBX systems
  • Keep CapEx under control with cloud services
  • Lessen staff stress with support services for the cloud infrastructure
  • Avoid integration projects with a complete UC and telephony suite in the cloud
  • Provide consistent user access experiences in the office or away
Paving a path to the UC cloud

The latest edition of our UC Newsletter includes recommendations from both Gartner and AT&T about planning your approach to cloud-based UC and telephony services to help you:

  • Understand requirements and constraints
  • Identify current and future architecture models
  • Develop a vision operations plan
  • Define a road map of incremental cloud investments
As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences about UC with me here.