For many businesses, making the decision to switch to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service from a traditional phone system is easy. The hard part is finding the right system that fits the needs and requirements of the organization. One critical decision businesses face when moving to VoIP is determining the best deployment model for their system: cloud, on-site, or hybrid.
In order to find out which deployment model fits your enterprise best, it’s important to understand what each solution offers and how it differs from the other options.
The cloud model (also referred to as hosted solution) is ideal for small businesses and mid-size companies with limited IT resources and lean budgets. This is because a cloud communication solutions do not have a big upfront investment. A third party service provider manages the necessary VoIP infrastructure, hardware, and software at an off-site location. Maintenance and upgrades are also covered by the service provider. A hosted solution is also scalable and flexible, as users can access the service from anywhere via an Internet connection. Adding features and users or extensions can also be done via an online portal.
The disadvantages of a cloud model, meanwhile, include loss of control (since the company’s records, voicemails, and other voice data now resides on the provider’s external server), and limited customization (as the applications and system specifications may depend on the provider’s pre-packaged offers).
Mid-sized companies or enterprises with highly sensitive data, and who have the resources and dedicated IT personnel to manage their voice communications network can benefit from an onsite or on-premise solution. With this solution, all VoIP equipment and operations are controlled and maintained onsite by the company without third party involvement. The company can also customize applications, system specifications, and other configuration details to fit their unique needs, something which is difficult to do with a pre-packaged cloud solution.
Perhaps the biggest downside to a premise-based solution, though, is its substantial capital outlay. On-premise solutions tend to cost more initially because the company needs to invest in the necessary IT hardware and VoIP equipment. The company is also responsible for managing their infrastructure to ensure the security, continuity, and reliability of their communications.
For companies that want to enjoy the flexibility of the cloud but favor the control offered by an on-premise solution, a hybrid approach is a viable option. The hybrid model offers the best of both worlds as it lets an organization create a blended architecture combining both onsite and cloud offerings. It’s also a suitable option for companies that are still exploring the waters of VoIP and are not ready to undergo a complete transition. Aside from this, a hybrid model also adds a layer of reliability to a company’s communications system. If the hosted service is down, the company can automatically switch over to its on-premise system. This means any potential downtime and lost revenue can be avoided.
A hybrid model has drawbacks, too, primarily cost. An enterprise needs to buy and maintain its onsite equipment, while also paying for a hosted service.
Choosing the Best Deployment Solution
There is no one solution that fits all businesses as each deployment model has its advantages and disadvantages. The key to choosing the best solution is knowing what’s right for your business and considering various factors such as budget, organizational goals, and network requirements, among others. Working with a provider that understands that each business is unique, like ShoreTel, also helps in choosing the right deployment option.
A reliable provider of telecommunications systems to enterprises worldwide, ShoreTel understands that businesses use and need their communications systems differently. So they have developed ShoreTel Connect, a solution designed to help businesses make the most of their communications system in any way they choose: as a managed service from the cloud, as a hardware system managed onsite, or a combination of both.
“ShoreTel Connect is one system with one common user base with one common client base, delivered onsite or in the cloud. It offers businesses the flexibility they need, whether onsite, cloud, or a mix and match of the two. The ultimate goal is one single user experience across all delivery models,” said Mark Roberts, CMO at ShoreTel. Whether companies want to move everything to the cloud, host their system onsite, or slowly migrate their business with a hybrid option. ShoreTel ensures that the options and user experience are the same across the board, thus reducing the learning curve and creating a seamless experience.
What makes ShoreTel Connect unique is that it prioritizes the user experience instead of features and functions, offering easy to manage solutions as well as flexibility. “The features and functions offered through ShoreTel stack up just fine versus other competitors in the industry. The feature set offered by VoIP providers has become by and large commoditized. ShoreTel is more interested in the way its solutions are delivered and the overall experience that differentiates them from competitors,” said Roberts.
ShoreTel believes that there are three different customer types: those who buy and like a product, those who purchase and ask the 'what if' questions (in regards to customization and functionality), and those who are interested but want to build their own system. For this last customer type, ShoreTel offers ShoreTel Summit, their Communications Platform as a Service (CPaas) solution. Through it, customers can create an application to replicate the experience they desire. Therefore, the customer gets a solution that meets their needs, and one that also works harmoniously with ShoreTel Connect.
Overall, ShoreTel is looking to deliver not only a reliable solution to its customers but also an experience that matches. "Simplicity and ease of use, as well as a frictionless experience, is what our customer base is looking for; in addition to how that experience replicates through every touch point. ShoreTel puts the customer at the center of its thinking and makes sure the company is aligned around this," shared Roberts. This is why ShoreTel offers their users cloud, onsite, and hybrid delivery options, in addition to their ShoreTel mobile app, for an all-encompassing communications system.
To learn more about ShoreTel cloud, onsite, and hybrid solutions (and to determine which option is best for your business), ShoreTel offers a free assessment to find your best fit.
ShoreTel is an industry-leading provider of cloud, onsite, and hybrid business telephony and unified communications (UC) solutions. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, the company focuses on developing simple communication solutions for small and mid-market companies, removing the barriers and complexity associated with other business communications solutions. Their innovative platform, ShoreTel Connect, seeks to give businesses freedom and simplicity by offering a variety of deployment solutions: onsite, in the cloud, or a mix of both. They are working towards bringing cloud offerings to other parts of the globe, including the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.