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Unified communications as a service, or UCaaS, is becoming increasingly compelling to a growing number of enterprises and organizations -- and it's easy to see why. The cloud-based unified communications delivery model provides access to quick, easy and inexpensive business-class telephony features without the associated expense and complexity of purchasing and maintaining a traditional PBX.
Yet, for businesses long accustomed to rock-solid PBX-based communications, redirecting all telephony and related communications to the internet cloud -- where performance and security can be an issue -- might be considered too risky a proposition. That's where private cloud UCaaS comes in.
The private cloud option has some significant advantages for users, among them simplicity, reliability and cost savings. At its most basic, private cloud UCaaS is outsourced networking. Whatever UCaaS vendor you select becomes a managed service provider, owning the hardware -- and the headaches --while you pay a monthly or annual fee based on your required services.
UCaaS private cloud functionality
The global data centers of these providers are now your data centers. You have 24/7 support, service-level agreements and other contracted capabilities. Your cloud provider takes on the responsibility of installing and maintaining the infrastructure required for UCaaS, as well as licensing, staffing and securing the UCaaS environment. Should security exploits be uncovered that might endanger elements of your service, your private cloud provider's security team would be responsible for addressing them with updated software or firmware.
Perhaps most important, with a private cloud, the internet cloud is no longer the great unknown. As your applications and data traverse the private cloud, performance and security are enhanced. The network is controlled and operates without being hamstrung by the random fluctuations in performance common to generic internet connections.
Having a private cloud infrastructure will also enable you to build a more comprehensive and secure networking environment. If resilience is important, you can work with your private cloud provider to provision alternate WAN links. If additional security is needed, your provider can provision more sophisticated gateways or add layers of security appliances that support the Session Initiation Protocol and other UCaaS-oriented communications protocols.
Dedicated vs. shared: What's the difference?
Ultimately, private versus public translates to dedicated versus shared environments. With a private environment, resources are dedicated to you and your system. Thus, activities of other users (outside of your company) won't affect you. Private cloud-based unified communications usually mean better and more consistent performance for your UCaaS users. Keep in mind, though, that communication with external users will typically require leaving your private cloud and going across the internet. In such cases, performance can be stymied by network conditions on the public side of the connection.
A growing number of vendors offer private cloud UCaaS, among them legacy PBX suppliers such as Avaya and NEC. Voice over IP, video conferencing, instant messaging and enterprise mobility are fundamental UC services all private cloud UCaaS providers offer, but you'll also find some with more expansive services such as CRM and support for contact centers.
More expensive, but it might not matter to some
Private cloud-based unified communications will be more expensive than a public cloud model where the cost of hardware and other resources can be shared among many customers. However, going private may appeal to organizations that don't want the headaches associated with overseeing on-premises hardware, software, staff, licensing and the other ingredients needed to manage an extensive UCaaS offering. These benefits may help private cloud UCaaS become the delivery model of choice for more companies in the years to come.