- Bandwidth is important, but CoS/QoS and network monitoring services are also important.
- UC, contact centre solutions, and the cloud are natural bedfellows.
The ongoing Eurozone crisis and the growing realisation that the downturn is for life (or at least the next few years), and not just for Christmas, is affecting the way enterprises spend. Companies that were holding back on investment and waiting for the storm to blow over have now realised that investment is necessary both to stay competitive and to increase business efficiency. The cloud is logical choice for these customers as it reduces the need for capital outlay and is usually available and paid for on a flexible, on-demand basis. However, the cost saving potential of cloud based solutions can be damaged when providers are also offering higher bandwidth services (EFM or fibre) with a marketing wrap that suggests this extra bandwidth is necessary to support cloud based services.
In a sense this is correct. Driving voice services over the IP network rather than through a separate ISDN PRI connection can increase the overall network load and video requires even more bandwidth. However vendors should also make customers aware that multiple voice codecs are available that allow for varying degrees of compression with proportional effects on quality. The arrival of IP voice in particular as, if not quite a must have, at least a very much in demand service should not be doubted.Easynet’s decision to sell SIP trunking at ‘wholesale’ was a response to the growing demand for IP voice and its realisation that it would struggle to compete for new and renewed custom without SIP trunking in its portfolio. However, by talking about dynamic bandwidth, Azzurri is raising a valid point – bandwidth will not solve all your problems either for voice or for other cloud-based applications. Azzurri’s first moves in to the cloud are centred on UC and contact centre services, both of which tend to be sensitive to network performance. However, Azzurri’s argument is that this can be delivered as much by network monitoring and correctly configured CoS/QoS as by throwing bandwidth at the problem. Azzurri’s stated ultimate aim is to deliver application based SLAs; whilst it is not yet ready to deliver them, the ambition is sound. For traditional hosted and cloud solutions, the customer’s primary concern is application/service performance rather than network statistics.
Azzurri, like others (e.g., Kcom, Vodafone), is pushing UC into the cloud because the cloud abrogates the need to commitwither to a big upfront investment or (usually) to a long-term contract and thereby increases the likelihood that a customer will trial new services. UC solutions do not necessarily make sense for all employees within a given company, so a per seat pricing structure delivered via the cloud makes sense. Similarly, Orange France’s ‘Managed Contact Centre – Express’ provides a per seat contact centre solution (including IM and collaboration features) that can be integrated with CRM applications. This is ideal for enterprises that want to improve customer service, but that cannot afford their own contact centre and are not happy with an outsourced solution. UC in the cloud offers real value to enterprises, but eroding that value with expensive, high capacity access services will dissuade potential customers and is unnecessary for those starting their cloud journey with IP voice and UC services.