In his Roundup Of Cloud Computing Forecasts And Market Estimates, published by Gartner, Louis Columbus details the level of public cloud infrastructure available and growing, writing, "In 2022, spending on public cloud Infrastructure is forecast to reach $331B."
So the infrastructure for cloud computing is available and ready for you to jump in. But if you're only ready to make the moves you know you have the financial and technological capability to begin today, cloud technology for voice is a great place to start. Given the diversity of the market, how can you possibly choose what type of offering you need to increase productivity and reduce room for errors?
"On the surface, a lot of cloud offerings have similar-looking features, but there are some checkpoints about delivery and uptime that you want to look at," says Jim Tynan, Twinstate's VP of sales.
"Beyond the fact that you want to do feature-to-feature comparative analysis, and compare the ease of use for the end user, there are some big, key differences to consider: Where is it housed? How is it delivered? How is it implemented?"
Your voice cloud solution can be delivered either through a pool environment or an instance-based format, meaning you have your own instance of your enterprise's applications. To have a place in a pool environment, you purchase a subscribed seat and get your own small part of a single system. Any lower priced solution should provide this option. In instance-based, the provider, such as Mitel, who offers this level of solution, creates a system within their virtual infrastructure that is custom-built for the resources your enterprise needs.
"The advantage there is that the infrastructure changes based on your company's needs, not on the other cloud customers, as is the case with a pooled environment," says Tynan. "The idea that a cloud offering keeps you current with technology is only as true as the vendor is willing to update. In pooled environments, the vendor makes a general decision. With instance-based, they make decisions based on what's good for you. That means more control, more usability and a higher-level feature set," he says.
Next, think about where your data is housed. Did you know that data centers have different tier classifications based on their quality? Tiers are 1 through 4.
"A data center is a data center is a data center is not true," says Tynan.
Instead, the levels mean a lot. For instance, a Tier 4 data center is the highest level. It has not just everything you'd expect, but more, including security of the environment.
"You need to know if your voice data is being hosted from someone's garage," says Tynan. "If you look at most carriers, their data centers are not Tier 4 because their business is not about hosting apps securely, it's about moving data. Those are mostly Tier 2 centers."
This level can also impact reliability. One of the most important factors in choosing a cloud offering is knowing how reliable it will be. For example, your cloud solution should be housed in a geo-diverse manner, such that a regional environmental disaster won't bring down your application.
Suggested Read: How Can Voice Virtualization Impact Your Business?
the Nuances of Communication Platforms for Business
Once you've gone through the main questions, you'll have some nuances to sort out. You should be interested in how your traffic is managed, and how efficient the application is. For instance, most SIP-based solutions require that your voice traffic routes through the off-premise hosted application. That means every time you make an internal intercom call it actually leaves your premise, and is routed back to you. This greatly decreases the efficiency of your connection to the hosted provider.
If you do a private managed connection, that means a larger pipe and increased cost. If you connect via your internet connection, that means paying for more bandwidth, increased data congestion and a significantly higher chance for poor voice quality. When you use a proprietary solution (like Mitel’s Cloud), the voice traffic stays on your internal network; that increases the efficiency of your connection to the hosted provider and creates HD voice quality, explains Tynan.
Consumers should be leery of some SIP-based solutions and applications as well – particularly ones written on an Asterisk platform. Asterisk is a free shareware language used on many hosted VoIP applications. While there is nothing wrong with Asterisk per se, the issue the industry has seen is ongoing support and future enhancements. Because each application is unique, there are no standard support documents or practices. A change of employment by the original code author may mean difficulties in support and no future development.
Another option to consider is the ability to customize the information you receive from your solution. "You can work with providers that put an on-premise gateway to manage your solution, raise alarms, show your utilization, and show when your solution is having problems," Tynan says. "Anyone with a significantly large business should consider a solution that monitors."
Finally, take a look at price. Unless your provider is delivering all of what's listed above, they probably won't talk about it, warns Tynan. They'll want to instead talk about price.
"They want to talk about the solution cost being $12.95 per user per month," says Tynan. "You have to ask about that. You have to want the answers we've talked about here. Peel the onion."