IT organizatoins are looking to reduce costs while increasing productivity, and so are looking to unified communications to meet these goals. New technology and financing options can help companies do just that.
With the economic downturn (to put it mildly), IT organizations
are looking to reduce their capital expenditures while implementing
technologies that increase organizational productivity. Many companies are
evaluating unified communications to meet these goals, but the costs involved
can seem prohibitive, especially for small and midsize businesses.
The good news is that many providers are delivering technology
and financing solutions aimed at attracting customers and reducing the cost of
diving into UC.
Of course, no matter what the technology or pricing scheme,
companies will need to figure in the costs of software upgrades, training and
management during a five-year life-cycle. But now, with many of the available
options-or combinations thereof-an expensive UC solution could turn into a relatively
affordable buy over time.
Host with the Most
Basic VOIP hosting services have been around for a while,
delivering simplicity of deployment and management. Increasingly, these
providers are adding things such as hosted PBX and unified messaging. Enventis'
Encompass, for example, provides hosted IP PBX functionality, as well as unified
messaging, calendaring and contact center capabilities.
The leading UC players are also pushing the hosted or SAAS (software
as a service) model. Cisco Systems
just announced its WebEx Connect, for
example, as part of the company's broader UC push; Verizon
a year ago introduced
Integrated Communications Package for users of its Hosted IP Centrex business;
in June released Hosted Messaging and Collaboration 4.5, which
allows carriers to deploy hosted UC and messaging services to their customers.
Smaller vendors are also getting into the UC services act.
Intermedia, for example, hosts Microsoft Office Communications Server and Exchange.
Hosted services promise lower costs and less management overhead,
but these systems have been seen as too limited within the enterprise. With
Centrex services, for example, organizations need to pay for each move, add and
change, as well as for numerous other features and functions.
The integration of SOAs (service-oriented architectures) with VOIP
could significantly improve the adaptability of these services. By opening up their
UC platforms for SOA, hosted providers could give organizations the flexibility
of a premises-based service at the price point of a hosted service.