Hosted IP telephony services have been around since well before the term ‘cloud computing’ became popular. M5 Networks was founded in 2002. According to Wikipedia, ‘cloud computing’ became popular only after Amazon introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006. Apart from a whole gamut of applications and services that are now ‘cloud-based,’ cloud computing has greatly expanded its role in communications with almost every UC&C function now available from the cloud. That doesn’t mean that a cloud-based option is automatically the appropriate choice, but in most cases the arguments in favour of cloud are compelling. For starters, mobility is one of the biggest drivers for the adoption of UC&C, which means that as many, and possibly more, users will be off premises than on premises. To a cloud-based system all users are remote and therefore treated identically without any need being made to provision for ‘remote’ versus ‘on premise’ users. Similarly, as soon as an organisation has more than one location it faces the issues of providing ‘closed user group’ facilities between those locations as distinct from their connections to the outside world, and possibly having to manage facilities in multiple locations that might be too small to merit having dedicated IT staff on premises. And an on-premise UCC system can challenge even head office IT skills. These systems are complex and, to provide maximum benefit, must integrate with other key applications such as customer relationship management applications. Configuring and supporting their cloud-based UC&C services is core business for cloud service providers. And no matter how good your IT staff is at managing your UC&C facilities, they are there to support your core business, not to be your core business. Your IT expertise would be much better deployed advancing your business, whatever it is. Last but not least, adopting a hosted solution generally means opting for a purely opex model, freeing up company capital for purposes designed to achieve growth. You can find the cases for and against hosted and on-premises neatly summed up in the chart from TechTarget. It promises to “offer a quick and easy way to evaluate the pros and cons of each and helps you decide which is best for your business.” But, truth to tell, the pros are all on the side of hosted UC&C. It’s a no-brainer.

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