Developing a tailored hosted collaboration solution


Businesses are finding it increasingly necessary to move a variety of services and applications into the cloud, but many remain hesitant to fully commit, citing data protection fears or entertaining concerns about switching to new solutions soon after making major equipment and service purchases. To begin to access the benefits of cloud services such as hosted collaboration while maintaining some legacy systems, organizations should adopt a hybrid cloud solution, according to a recent McKinsey Quarterly article.


Research from McKinsey indicated that 80 percent of large North American institutions are planning or executing programs that make use of cloud environments – primarily by building private clouds – to host critical applications. Some executives surveyed said they anticipated that by moving 70 to 75 percent of their applications to the cloud, they will be able to realize savings of 30 to 40 percent over current platforms. Additionally, 63 percent of business leaders said they believed the cloud can make their entire organization more agile and responsive.


“Refusing to use cloud capabilities is not a viable option for most institutions,” researchers James Kaplan, Chris Rezek, and Kara Sprague wrote. “The combination of improved agility and a lower IT cost base is spurring large enterprises to launch concerted programs to use cloud environments.”


At the same time, many executives do not feel comfortable with the security issues surrounding moving data into the cloud or are constrained by compliance regulations. Kaplan, Rezek and Sprague recommended segmenting data and applications based on sensitivity. For applications such as ERP software or data analytics, businesses may want to use a private cloud, while public cloud offerings can be used for tools such as email, CRM and collaboration suites, for instance.


Leveraging the hybrid cloud for unified communications

Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and hosted collaboration tools in the cloud provide businesses with increased agility and cooperation functions. However, whether due to availability concerns or previous hardware investments, not all organizations feel comfortable making a complete switch to the cloud. Customized, hybrid options allow for much of the same flexibility of a public hosted solution while allowing businesses to retain more oversight of their own system.


In a recent Channel Partners article, telecom executive Chris Daly explained that a hybrid UCaaS approach can be perfect for delivering the collaboration features today’s companies need while allowing them to use their traditional devices and associated functions. He highlighted several hybrid success stories, noting the value created.


“Prior to installing a hybrid solution, we couldn’t rely on the phone service,” one senior systems administrator told Daly. “We wanted a VoIP solution that was reliable and easy to administer.”


There are a variety of options for implementing UCaaS, with varying types of supporting IT infrastructures. Whether an organization is ready to use a fully hosted option or develop a more proprietary solution, it can work with a managed services provider to develop a plan. By enlisting an outside provider, businesses can create a hybrid architecture tailored to their specific needs and concerns.