Switching your business comms system, or due an upgrade? When it comes to moving to a new unified communications (UC) solution, businesses have two options — to host these services on-site, or to have them hosted in the cloud. But what are these options, and crucially, what’s the difference? Here, Kristian Torode, co-founder of hosted UC provider Crystaline, explains.
Communication is crucial for any organisation, both internally and with its customers. To facilitate more effective communication, businesses are increasingly turning to unified communications (UC) solutions. UC encompasses a host of different channels, including voice, video, messaging, conferencing, and content sharing into one single platform for improved communication for both customers and employees.
When moving to a UC solution, businesses must decide where it will be installed. Onsite software is installed onto a company’s own infrastructure and hosted locally, whereas cloud-based software is run from third-party servers. But what’s the difference?
With an on-site approach, the entire UC system is managed on the premises. This includes the installation of the hardware required, such as servers and cooling racks. It also includes the ongoing maintenance and upgrades required to keep the service up-to-date and operating smoothly.
By taking full responsibility of the network, the business has greater control with the ability to build bespoke systems to fit its specific needs. An on-site system also allows for increased security, as there is no sharing of resources with external and third parties. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to ensuring regulatory compliance, and in keeping with laws such as GDPR.
Having business data available on-site also reduces the reliance on an internet connection. In areas with frequent broadband connection or congestion issues, it’s best to perform as much work as possible on the business’ internal network and only access the internet when necessary. This offers a faster, more optimised performance to employees, and prevents drops in productivity caused by disruption.
The main challenge with on-site UC is the upfront cost. Purchasing physical hardware and its installation can be costly, and for larger networks, there may be a need to hire internal IT professionals to manage the infrastructure. Furthermore, the reliance on physical equipment — which takes time to source and install — means that this solution offers low scalability, making it less than ideal for fast-growing businesses.
An alternative is to host UC software and services in the cloud. In a hosted UC setup, business data and applications are stored on external servers rather than onsite.
Cloud-based approaches offer several advantages. For one, the lack of physical hardware and installation onsite makes it a much more scalable solution. It’s possible to add new phone lines in minutes and at the click of a button, rather than having to wait for someone to manually install the cables and setup required.
This flexibility means that it’s possible to purchase services on a per-user basis, which can offer significant cost savings for many SMEs. It’s also much more accommodating of business growth and changes in demand throughout the year.
And the digital nature of cloud-based systems means that they can be accessed remotely and from multiple devices, allowing employees to work from home or on-the-go with no compromise to customer service.
Third-party services can be an area of concern when it comes to cybersecurity, so choosing a reputable UC provider is crucial. It’s important to look for providers that offer enhanced cybersecurity measures, such as data encryption and firewalls, as well as compliancy with data regulations.
Deciding between an on-site or hosted UC solution can be tricky. But by evaluating the pros and cons of both, it’s possible to find the setup that offers the best of both worlds to your business — balancing flexibility and cost with security and quality. As communication technologies continue to evolve, it’s essential that businesses ensure their IT setup is too.
Crystaline is a leading managed IT services provider for SMEs across the UK. For a free consultation on the best comms solution for your business, get in touch with a member of the team today.