laptop floating in cloudphoto credit: mansikka via photopin cc

The buzz in the industry is around cloud services. The majority of CIOs we talk to share a vision of moving some or all their communication applications to the cloud. This was validated in a customer survey that showed over 47% of customers were considering cloud communications services.

Yet, very few CIOs responded positively when asked if they felt prepared in procuring, deploying or integrating cloud communications services. Furthermore, IT teams are still concerned about which cloud model (public, private or hybrid) to adopt. This was validated by an article in CIO Insights which reported that the number 1 concern of CIOs in 2013 is which cloud model to pursue for their organization.

Let me illustrate the differing needs of customers with three examples. A CIO of a large higher education institute engaged us regarding their needs for a cloud UC solution that would integrate with Google apps in the cloud. As we delved deeper into their needs, it turned out that the CIO was looking to have a subscription based UC service with no assets on the books and preferred a managed UC solution vs. procuring a public cloud UC solution.

The second example involves a CEO of a small startup in Silicon Valley with 200 employees. He has a rapidly growing business and he wants a subscription based UC solution with which he could go online and order new lines and features “using his credit card” as he on-boards new employees. The third example is a Tier 2 Service provider who had already made the decision to use Avaya unified communication solution for their cloud offer but needed help in designing/implementing the solutions, determining correct user profiles as well as training of staff.

I wanted to share these examples to illustrate the wide spectrum of needs in the movement to cloud. Customers are looking for a partner to help them make the right decisions on the various cloud options and integrating with existing and new applications to help improves business metric vs. just managing cost. Enterprises and service providers need cloud consulting and implementation services that accelerate their adoption of cloud without significant upfront investment, while addressing these critical questions:

• Which communications ownership and delivery model is most appropriate – traditional customer premise equipment, managed cloud services, fully hosted cloud services, or a hybrid approach?

• How do we address our list of challenges and concerns to achieve our return on investment and total cost of ownership objectives?

• How do we integrate the delivery strategy with our current business applications?

When looking for someone to provide these services, look for one that can answer these questions through financial modeling based on real-world benchmarks, application of best-in-class architecture design and a cost-benefit analysis approach that justifies future investments in various communications ownership and delivery models.