Premise, Hosted or Both? What UC Model Will Prevail in the Future?

Cindy Whelan

Cindy Whelan

Summary Bullets:

  • As the unified communications (UC) market develops, enterprises have access to a wide range of solutions from equipment vendors and service providers that offer hosted and on-premise UC solutions.
  • Enterprises that want to deploy hosted and managed UC solutions must consider which entire service wrap has the best model for their needs.

Carriers have long supported premises-based managed IP PBX solutions, typically based on platforms from Avaya, Cisco and Siemens.  In 2011, as interest in unified communications services began to grow, major service providers added hosted UC offers based on the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) platform.  In 2012, service providers continued to build out their UC solutions, adding support for Microsoft Lync.  BT launched a pilot program for a dedicated hosted Microsoft Lync solution in February 2012, followed by its October 2012 commercial launch of hosted Lync in the U.S.  In November 2012, Verizon opted for a different approach with the launch of a managed customer premise-based Microsoft Lync solution that can be offered alongside a professional services practice specifically designed for Lync implementations. Orange Business Services has had a dedicated hosted Microsoft Lync offer for some time, and plans a Microsoft Lync ‘as a service’ shared hosted platform in 2013.  Many more carriers have certified their SIP trunking solutions with Microsoft Lync, even if they don’t yet provide a fully managed UC solution for the platform.

But Cisco and Microsoft, as well as Avaya, Siemens and other vendors have been busy expanding their own UC options directly to enterprises. Enterprises that want to adopt UC may want some form of hosted service, either dedicated or a shared multitenant environment, or a mix of hosted and premise-based services: These enterprises will start the search with their existing relationships.  However, as they consider hosted or managed on-premise solutions, professional services capabilities become very important. Enterprises will need to choose the network service requirements, management portals and service reporting that best fits their needs; that means choosing what partner – led by a service provider, equipment vendor or third-party consultant – is best suited to take the lead in delivering and supporting that solution.  Current Analysis recently completed a survey of U.S. and European enterprises to identify trends in UC and collaboration service strategies, and the findings showed that the most common current deployment models for enterprises surveyed were solutions hosted by equipment vendors in data centers, followed closely by service provider offers in a shared, multitenant environment. That said, when asked about future implementations, many enterprises plan to retain full control of their communications environment through on-premise, self-managed solutions.

What are your plans going forward?  Will you opt to manage your own UC environment or outsource some (or all?) services to carriers or IT service providers?

About Cindy Whelan
As Principal Analyst, Business Network & Wholesale Services, Cindy analyzes companies, events, products, technologies and technology initiatives in the telecom network services industry.

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