The True Value of Unified Communications from the Cloud

True value is not necessarily how much something costs, but how much it’s worth to you. There has been a recent surge in Unified Communications solutions delivered as a service (UCaaS), with providers such as ShoreTel leading the way.

Cloud Unified Communications solutions focus on your most important assets – your people and their goals – allowing your team to focus on relationships, ideas and growth, not on getting technology to work.

UCaaS solutions are capable of transforming business performance to deliver a sustainable competitive advantage.  They improve efficiency, reduce communication time, enable greater levels of mobility, enhance collaboration, increase customer satisfaction and dramatically reduce costs.

What are cloud-based Unified Communications?

Cloud Unified Communications are becoming increasingly popular with organisations that rely on voice, messaging, presence and collaboration to make their business processes really work.

It includes the features found in premises-based IP telephony, as well as presence, integrated audio, video and web conferencing, mobility, collaboration, IM and content sharing tools, all delivered as a service. New features are added regularly and are available immediately, without the need to upgrade the entire system. All of these features are accessible from a single user interface, whether on the desktop or a mobile device.

So how does it work?

A UC service provider owns or leases a data centre that houses the hosting infrastructure. The cloud provider maintains the hardware and software, ensuring updates and patches are completed and necessary upgrades are performed. The provider also guarantees uptime through a service level agreement.

Customers choose one or more UC applications and pay a monthly per-user fee. The beauty of cloud-based unified communications is scalability: customers can change which applications they want to access, as well as the number of users who receive access, as their business needs change. Users access cloud-based services over an Internet Protocol (IP) connection, such as the Internet, via a web browser, desktop computer or from mobile devices.

Benefits

  • An exceptional user experience that provides advanced features in a user-friendly and intuitive way
  • Fast implementation and provisioning – it’s practically plug-and-play
  • Flexible and scalable, allowing you to add or remove users as needed, whether the need is prompted by rapid business growth, cyclical changes or seasonal spikes
  • Built-in operational redundancies assure high availability and business continuity
  • An end-to-end service from phones to software to premium customer service
  • Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) ensures a highly secure service
  • Minimal acquisition costs, low capital expenditure and low total cost of ownership
  • Guaranteed service level agreements (SLAs)

Key points to consider

Infrastructure

A cloud provider with the expertise to host a carrier-class network should have best practices in place to ensure maximum security. Industry standard encryption, firewall configurations and protection systems to prevent outside network intrusion are also vital.

Reliability

A cloud provider must have redundant data centres and direct relationships with multiple Tier 1 Internet and telephony carriers, to ensure a consistently good service.

Integration options

If you want to take a measured approach to cloud adoption, consider working with a UCaaS provider that offers both cloud and hybrid solutions. With a hybrid approach – a mixed deployment with some elements remaining onsite and others hosted in the cloud – you’ll not only get expert guidance, but also the flexibility to customise a migration path that best suits your business. From a technical perspective, there’s not much difference in capabilities between in-house versus cloud-based UC applications, so it depends on your unique requirements.

Support

The cloud provider will manage the overall IT infrastructure, so you are able focus on more pressing issues that are key to advancing your business. However, in the event of a problem, a reputable UCaaS provider should have full compliance that addresses regulatory standards, as well as 24/7/365 support options, continuous systems monitoring and guaranteed uptime, to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to any issues.

To make remote work productive, employees require more than a phone system that simply connects a call. They also need to move seamlessly between phone calls, chats, video conferences and desktop sharing, just like their office-based co-workers. Look for a UCaaS solution that supports collaboration across all devices.

ShoreTel’s End-to-End Cloud Unified Communications

A robust Unified Communications Cloud strategy is essential. increasing employee efficiency, agility and productivity, improving customer service, enhancing flexibility and reducing costs.  With ShoreTel Connect CLOUD solutions, delivered by Blackstar Solutions, you can finally have the best of both worlds: their flexible deployment models mean that there is no ‘one size fits all’.

ShoreTel Connect CLOUD is an end-to-end cloud phone and unified communications solution that handles everything for you, from phones to applications to network operations.   With the combination of voice, video, collaboration and mobility solutions, ShoreTel delivers the unified communications infrastructure that allows your organisation to be more flexible and efficient, whether on-premise, cloud or hybrid.

For more information on cloud deployment, contact our cloud experts at Blackstar Solutions on 0333 123 2 123.