The Cloud is no longer unfamiliar territory. By now, most businesses have some part of their IT infrastructure operating from the Cloud, whether its security, storage or business applications. So why aren’t more companies moving their voice infrastructure into the Cloud?

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One important reason enterprises may be reluctant to transition to a hosted Unified Communications (UC) solution is concerns about what to do with existing PBX infrastructure and PSTN access. Enterprises are careful with their budgets, so it doesn’t make sense to simply dispose of a legacy solution, especially if the solution is still functioning and serves the business well.

On the plus side, Cloud-hosted platforms have a compelling financial impact. Hosted platforms have predictable costs which alleviates businesses from major capital expenditures. In fact, from a purely capital expenditure (CAPEX) perspective, a move to Cloud UC eliminates expensive upfront capital investments and extended pay-back periods to cover hardware expenses. A Cloud-based solution also means easier and more cost effective future software upgrades – a huge benefit in a world where technology develops so quickly. Then there’s the savings on operational expenditure (OPEX). With Cloud UC you only pay for what you use, when you use it. This makes the choice of UC Cloud even more compelling, especially for enterprises that need to scale capacity up or down. Management of the communications network is also simplified. This functionality frees up IT staff and reduces expensive service visits because it’s simple to update software, add new lines and trouble shoot yourself.

With all those benefits aside, enterprises are still concerned about their legacy investments. What enterprises need is a way to migrate to a hosted platform at their own pace while minimising upfront capital expenditures. If a scalable, step-by-step solution can be combined with a sense of familiarity, well then that is win-win. Familiarity helps remove the fear and uncertainty that often comes with implementing new technology.

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Choose a name your staff will trust:

Microsoft Skype for Business is already used by millions of businesses and has sold enough licenses to grow into a top three vendor (in terms of market share) in the global UC market.

The launch of Microsoft’s Cloud Connector Edition (CCE), demonstrates that Microsoft is well aware enterprises need help migrating to Cloud UC at a pace that suits them. CCE is software that essentially allows enterprises to leverage on-premises PSTN connectivity with Office 365. While the software is free of charge and downloadable from Microsoft, enterprises still need to source a server and have qualified technicians perform the installation. This usually takes some time to get up and running, and it could cause some disruption to the business during operating hours. Furthermore, Microsoft strongly recommends a Session Border Controller (SBC) for security, dial plan integration and interworking between the PBX and Skype for Business endpoints, so that will also need to be sourced separately.

While it sounds complicated, help is on the way in the form of clever solutions that bridge the gap between Microsoft CCE and enterprise SBCs – and only taking a fraction of the time to set up.

What help looks like

Enterprises should look for a solution that integrates Microsoft CCE directly to their SBCs, essentially an “all-in-one” appliance that is easy to install. Keep an eye out for solutions that lower the total cost of ownership as well. One way of doing this is by matching Microsoft’s maximum throughput capacity, which is 500 concurrent calls in a single appliance. If you deploy an appliance that can’t scale to the 500 concurrent call capacity, you may have to purchase another appliance to meet your enterprise’s growth trajectory and demands doubling your investment.

Another thing: flexibility is key. Enterprises should choose a solution that can be deployed either virtually or as a hardware appliance. And with security top of mind, it’s imperative to find a solution that provides comprehensive security features, including topology hiding and protection against Denial of Service attacks.

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With the right solution to link Microsoft CCE and existing SBC, enterprises can maintain POTS lines, fax machines, elevator phones, courtesy phones, paging systems and emergency lines – even present a single call back number regardless of which Cloud PBX user is making a call. So if you’re still “on the fence” about Cloud PBX, there are some purpose-built, game-changing appliances out there waiting to help you migrate to the Cloud on your terms.

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Matt Hurst, Technical Director, Sonus provides technical focus and leadership for Sonus’ EMEA SE team, leading engagements both within the Service Provider and Enterprise space. Responsible for Enterprise Channel education and alignment, Matt has over 10 years of experience working closely within the UC community, assisting partners and customers understand and realise the potential of Unified Communications, and how the eco-system of vendor solutions fit together to form the next generation network. Matt’s role is that of a trusted advisor, to help enable integration of UC solutions to existing enterprise telephony environments and provide a smooth and seamless migration strategy. Matt is also responsible for building and developing the SE engagement model via the channel and partner network.