6 things to look for with cloud-based unified communications

  • The level of security your company data needs is an important factor to consider when selecting a cloud-based UC solution.

  • Be sure your SLA can be changed to meet new needs as your business grows.

  • Don't just look at the security of the cloud provider; consider the strength and security of your network as well.

It can be difficult to choose the right cloud-based unified communications (UC) services when there are suddenly so many to choose from. While price is part of the equation, it shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision. Consider these six issues for a better picture of what you should look for in your investment:

1. Architecture. Cloud service providers typically use one of two basic architectures to deliver a UC service: multi-tenant or private cloud.

Multi-tenant means several customers share the same virtual instance of the UC solution, with security safeguards to keep each one separate from the others.

Private cloud solutions dedicate an entire software instance to a single customer, providing an extra layer of privacy and security.

Of course, the private option costs more. You’ll have to decide whether the level of risk your company will accept demands that level of protection.

2. Flexibility. Cloud-based services often came in a defined package. There wasn’t a lot of room to customize your service set. Hosted UC solutions have grown to offer variety. You can now select either a Microsoft-based platform with a Lync client or a Cisco solution with the Jabber client, for example.

Some providers also offer integrations with other UC platforms to enable customers to communicate with partners, suppliers, and others. Similarly, some platforms will integrate with other enterprise applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) packages.

Be sure there also is flexibility in the contract you sign with the provider. As your business requirements change, will you be able to change contract parameters accordingly?

3. Service level agreements. The service level agreements (SLA) defined in your contract should cover issues such as uptime and performance. What if your company grows or needs change? Can the SLA or other contract terms be altered to accommodate your changing demands?

4. Connectivity options. Cloud solutions are only as good as the network connection between your users and the UC provider. Some providers bundle in connectivity options and wrap them under the SLA, especially providers that are also telecommunications carriers.

Not all clouds are equal. Consider the strength and security of the network as well.

5. User Adoption Training. Is a user adoption program available with your solution? User adoption training programs help familiarize everyone with the features of the solution and the best practices for using it. Can you customize user adoption materials for your organization? It is one thing to have a great solution, but you want to make sure that everyone is using it as well.

6. Reputation. Good providers should be able to give you case studies that show how other companies are using the same solutions. In general, you want a provider with a good reputation, one that gives you some degree of confidence, they’ll be in the cloud UC business for the long haul.

Do you have any other considerations that should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments section. And learn more about how cloud-based UC services can benefit your business.

Useful links:

UC collateral and case studies 



Lisanne Powers Unified Communications Lead Marketing Communications Manager AT&T About Lisanne