In our last post, we discussed the total cost of ownership (TCO) of collaboration tools. Lacking a coherent collaboration strategy, many organizations adopt multiple collaboration solutions from multiple vendors, and don’t have much of a grasp on how much it all costs. The subscription and license fees are only the tip of the iceberg. Network and IT support costs and a poor user experience add to the TCO of collaboration.
Rationalizing the collaboration environment can help rein in these costs, but how do you go about it? Do you select one vendor or go with a best-of-breed approach? And what deployment model do you use? Do you implement an on-premises solution or go with the cloud?
Cloud-based collaboration tools might seem like a no-brainer — there are numerous options available, many of which are quite good. You may even be thinking about going all-in and moving your phone system to the cloud as well.
That can be a smart choice. A cloud-based unified communications (UC) solution can give you a full suite of collaboration tools in one integrated package, all for a monthly fee per user. Everybody will be on the same platform and will be able to access all of the features whether they work in the office, at home or on the road.
But if saving money is your primary motivation for moving to the cloud, there are some things to consider:
- While the cloud eliminates many upfront investments, you will likely have to purchase collaboration endpoints such as phones and video conferencing units. The cost of this hardware should be included in your calculation.
- Implementation of a cloud UC service often comes with challenges. You will likely need help designing the solution, and it may require changes to your WAN and integration with your on-premises directory services and other applications. That will require in-house skill sets or the help of a third-party integrator.
- Subscription fees for cloud services continue forever, and increase as your organization grows. It’s important to estimate these costs over time against the amortized cost of an on-premises system.
- Cloud UC providers typically offer telecom services that are cheaper than your local carrier. But if you’re in a long-term contract with your local carrier, or uncomfortable with the cloud provider’s service, you won’t see telecom cost savings.
- Cloud service contracts vary in terms of maintenance, management and support services. If your in-house staff will need to manage the system and provide end-user support, those costs should be factored in.
All of that being said, cloud-based UC offers a number of distinct advantages over on-premises systems, including faster implementation, easier scalability and access to the latest features. Spreading out the cost of your collaboration platform in an opex model gives you budget predictability. But if you move to the cloud in order to save money, you may be disappointed. In fact, studies have shown that an on-premises deployment can cost less than cloud-based UC.
If you need help with your analysis, we invite you to give Verteks a call. We have extensive experience with both on-premises and cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions, as well as the IT infrastructure needed to support them. We’d be happy to help you determine the best deployment model for your needs and evaluate the various options that are available.