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Moving to the Cloud? Here Are 4 Things to Keep in Mind
June 22nd, 2016

Moving to the Cloud? Here Are 4 Things to Keep in Mind

Ian Linton

Moving to the cloud means that a service provider will own, manage and maintain the infrastructure you need for a phone service. You need no infrastructure on your premises and you won’t need to hire...

Moving to the cloud means that a service provider will own, manage and maintain the infrastructure you need for a phone service. You need no infrastructure on your premises and you won’t need to hire someone with the IT skills to manage a phone system.

Instead of spending funds buying or upgrading your own infrastructure, you pay the service provider a monthly fee, which covers maintenance and upgrades. That’s an important financial benefit, particularly for smaller businesses, because it makes advanced communication systems like Voice over IP (VoIP) or Unified Communications (UC) affordable.

Cloud deployments increasing

Nemertes Research found that sixty-three percent of businesses surveyed in 2014 had at least one Unified Communications app in the cloud.  The latest Small Businesss VoIP BuyerView report from Software Advice stated that more than half of respondents were considering VoIP for the first time. And, the majority stated a preference for cloud solutions over premise-based systems.

There are many other business and operational benefits to a cloud-based system, which you should take into account when considering a move. And, telephone systems are just one example of the many business processes and services that are now available from the cloud.

The decision to move to the cloud is not a simple one, and the wrong decision can lead to frustration.

However, the decision to move to the cloud is not a simple one, and the wrong decision can lead to frustration.  A report in SearchUnifiedCommunications found that only 43 percent of IT executives surveyed in 2014 felt their cloud deployment was successful, down from 61 percent the previous year.

Why move to the cloud?

One of the most important factors to consider is your reasons for moving to the cloud.  A cloud deployment can protect your capital, as we explained earlier. But, the financial considerations are more complicated. You must take into account all the comparative costs of monthly payments versus total cost of ownership for a premise system.

With a premise solution, you’re looking at the cost of buying, installing or upgrading your network and related equipment. That’s a considerable upfront expense but, over time, the real price drops. Add in maintenance and support fees, including any hiring or training you might need to get the right skills in place. Comparing the total cost of a premise or cloud system over a period of say five years gives you a better indication of the financial implications of a move.

The flexibility of a cloud solution may be essential. If your business is growing, a cloud solution can grow with you. There’s no need to invest in new equipment. But, if you have an existing infrastructure with capacity for growth, you may not need that flexibility.

You may need a communications solution that supports greater mobility in your business.  If you have employees who want to work from home or teams who are regularly away from the office, a cloud solution can provide them with the same communications features and services as their office-based colleagues.

Maybe you just want to enjoy the benefits of an advanced communications system without the delay or disruption of installing a new infrastructure. A cloud system is available almost immediately, so you can quickly gain competitive advantage.

So, be clear about why you want to move to the cloud. And, set objectives so that you can measure the effectiveness of the move.

Which type of cloud?

If you decide to move to the cloud, you have a choice of three possible solutions – private, pure or hybrid cloud.

A private cloud is a solution that is based on your own premises or in a remote data center. Your IT team uses cloud software and virtual machines to run the service. This option gives you greater control over your communication system, which may be important if security or compliance is an issue. However, maintenance, upgrades and expansion are your responsibility with related cost implications.

With a pure or public cloud solution, infrastructure, as we explained earlier, is hosted in the cloud by a service provider who takes responsibility for maintenance and upgrades. This solution gives you the flexibility for growth and can reduce overall costs. However, successful deployment depends on good, secure connectivity between the service provider and your users.

A hybrid solution combines both private and public elements. Retaining mission-critical applications or services that require high levels of security gives your business the right level of control while other services such as email or collaboration can move to the cloud.

What’s the real cost?

When you consider cloud solutions from different service providers, it’s important to understand all the costs you will incur.

Service providers generally offer a range of packages from starter, through standard to premium, each providing a greater number of features and services for a higher monthly fee.

Although it’s tempting to buy on price, you must be certain that your chosen package includes the services and features important to your business.  Before putting together a wish list for your package, ask your employees about the services and features they feel are important for their jobs.

And, you must be aware of any hidden costs. Some service providers may charge for set-up or installation while others include that in the headline price. Packages might include bundles of free calls, which are only valuable if they match your business calling patterns. User support may come as part of the package or as a chargeable extra.  You may need to pay for professional services to integrate the cloud service with your other in-house applications and services.

Who provides the service?

The final factor to consider is the quality of the service provider.  A good provider is a business partner who can advise you on the cloud solution that is right for your business, financial and operational needs.

The service provider must have the resources and credentials to offer a secure, reliable service that ensures high-quality communications at all times.

Ordinary Phone or Smart Hub?