Modern organizations operate in a dynamic landscape where collaboration and communications can determine whether the organization succeeds or fails; stays competitive or falls behind; and retains customers or loses them. One proven and effective way to ensure seamless collaboration and communications is to adopt unified communications (UC).
UC combines communication channels like voice, video, instant messaging, and audio/video/web conferencing, so they can work together seamlessly and are available to users in a single, unified interface. Such consolidation enables organizations to streamline communication workflows, improve collaboration among workers, enhance employee and customer experiences, and reduce the costs of their communications infrastructure.
The two main types of UC solutions are on-premises (on-prem) UC and cloud-based UC.
How do these solutions differ?
Let’s take a look.
What Is On-Premises Unified Communications?
On-prem UC systems are hosted onsite and within the organization’s own IT infrastructure. This requires upfront and ongoing investment in the underlying hardware and software. Also, the in-house IT team manages all installations and upgrades, as well as associated tasks like software patching, device security, and customizations.
Finally, since the solution is hosted onsite, legacy on-prem systems may only be accessed from certain locations, as determined by the organization. In other words, older systems may not support the anytime/anywhere access that modern organizations and their geographically-dispersed teams need.
What Is Cloud-Based Unified Communications?
Cloud-based UC solutions are also known as Unified Communications as a Service or UCaaS. In this paradigm, all UC services and capabilities are delivered by a cloud provider. The provider also owns, operates, maintains, and delivers the underlying hardware and software infrastructure, thereby allowing organizations to access world-class UC technology. Furthermore, UCaaS provides a unified, cloud-based interface that users can access from anywhere to collaborate and communicate with colleagues, partners, and customers.
Major Differences between UC and UCaaS
With on-prem UC, organizations can maintain complete control since they are solely responsible for every purchase, upgrade, maintenance, customization, and security decision. But this control is only possible if they have skilled IT professionals. Also, on-prem UC involves sizeable capital expenses, which can be a substantial drawback for smaller companies with limited IT budgets.
UCaaS is delivered by an external provider so organizations cannot maintain full control over the UC ecosystem. The plus is that the provider also takes care of the underlying infrastructure, so the organization’s cost and maintenance burden is reduced. Also, UCaaS platforms and services are delivered on “pay-as-you-go” subscriptions. Since the business only pays for the services they use, it can better track and control its expenses.
Another difference between on-prem UC and UCaaS is flexibility. Cloud-based UC systems can be accessed remotely. The ecosystem can also be scaled up or down as the organization’s needs change. Such flexibility and scalability are not possible with on-prem UC because the firm usually gets “locked” into the chosen system and vendor. Changing the system (or vendor) can involve a substantial cost, so many companies choose not to do so.
On-Prem UC vs. UCaaS: In-Depth Comparison
So, which option should you choose — on-prem UC or UCaaS?
It really depends on your organization’s specific needs and budget.
Take a deep dive into the “Pros and Cons of On-Prem UC vs UCaaS” in this FREE guide. Download now.