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Cloud outlook getting clearer

March 7, 2012 • Opinion, Top Stories

Unified communications (UC) cloud delivery outlook is getting brighter as bandwidth supply and costs are addressed.

Bennie Langenhoven, Tellumat Communications Solutions Managing Executive, discusses the future benefits of cloud and unified communications (UC). (image: file)

By itself, the proposed value of cloud-based computing is compelling. With low upfront investment and predictable on-going costs, cloud offers enterprises scalability.

Capacity can be opened like a floodgate or throttled down to a trickle, depending on what you need. Technology never becomes outdated as adoption, upgrades, support and maintenance are all sorted by the folks up on cloud 9.

In addition, with an electrically powered centralised server, cloud is about as environmentally sound as computing gets with current hardware architectures.

Meanwhile, on earth

That is theoretically speaking however. Here on earth, certain practical issues continue to hamper the cloud phenomenon.

-          Cost

South Africa’s telecoms environment is yet to overcome a history of high-priced, under-supplied bandwidth. As a result, cloud solutions still do not scale terribly well.

While small and mid-sized companies benefit from wholesale cloud delivery of UC, bigger companies are not that fortunate yet. They opt for hybrid UC environments embracing the efficiencies and functional enhancements of cloud computing, without running up high bandwidth costs.

Such scenarios are possible, i.e. a large company opting for customer premises equipment at head office, while implementing cloud-delivered UC at their branches, enjoying the best of both.

-          Reliability, quality and security

In addition to avoiding the high bandwidth costs with a wholly or partly on-site solution, there is peace of mind knowing your equipment and data is on hand, ensuring data is secure, reliable and provides quality of service (QoS).

If you are willing to invest in access technology with extra-line redundancy and other means of assuring QoS, then do not fear a remote service. However, data security enjoys high enterprise priority, in which case the hybrid model makes sense.

Private cloud configurations solely dedicated to the customer, may offer a way out of this dilemma. It offers dedicated security and reliability, while handing over solution management headaches to service providers.

However, secure private cloud solutions are for enterprise clients like banks, not everyday computing environments.

New directions

Where cloud does represent a viable prospect is with 30 to 50-user clients and corporates with branch networks.

To serve these, UC technology and platform providers will increasingly adapt their business models, moving from on-site integration experts to remote delivery managed service partners and infrastructure hosts in the medium to long term.

Not only will this make sense to a market increasingly spoilt for cheap bandwidth and mature, virtualised computing applications, service providers will also find annuity revenue sources, safeguarding their business during difficult times. Additionally, users will have access to their entire computing environment from anywhere, on multiple devices.

Bennie Langenhoven, Tellumat Communications Solutions Managing Executive

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