July 22, 2022
Unified Communications (UC) can help you get so much more from your phone system. If you’ve already decided that UC will be the best communication system for your organization, you’ve made a smart choice. However, you have another big decision headed your way — UC can either be hosted on-premise or in the cloud, where it’s commonly known as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
If you’ve spent some time researching upgrading your business phones, you’ve already done quite a bit of work. In this blog, I’ll try to save you some time by laying out the pros and cons of on-premise UC and UCaaS, so this next decision can be easier.
Pros and Cons of UCaaS and On-Premise UC
If you choose on-premise UC, you can set it up how you like, but you’ll need an experienced IT technician to do it. As the system is yours to maintain and upgrade, your IT staff will also be responsible for doing both.
If you choose UCaaS, the provider is responsible for keeping the system running and up to date. You won’t have quite as much freedom to customize your setup. But you’ll still get to select features you’d like and choose some settings within your customer portal.
|CON - more responsibility||CON - fewer options|
|CON - professional IT skills are needed||PRO - easy setup|
|PRO - can customize your system||PRO - no maintenance required|
With on-premise UC, you will need to invest in your own equipment and take care of maintenance. Your investment may offer tax advantages, and depending on the size of your organization, you’ll probably pay less over time. However, you may have surprise expenses down the road when your equipment needs to be maintained or upgraded.
With UCaaS, you’ll have minimal upfront equipment costs, as this service is hosted on the cloud. Instead, you’ll pay for a monthly subscription to this service. You’ll pay based on your organization's size and the features you’d like to access.
|CON - significant upfront investment||CON - potentially pay more over time|
|CON - will have additional costs when equipment needs to be upgraded||PRO - no significant upfront costs|
|PRO - potential tax advantages||PRO - no surprises|
If you go with on-premise, you will need to be in the office to get much use out of it. If your staff needs to communicate frequently while working from home or on the road, on-premise might not be the best fit.
If you go with UCaaS, users can access features from any smart device. For this reason alone, it’s easy to understand why UCaaS subscriptions have skyrocketed in the past few years.
|CON - most features designed for use at the office||PRO - can accommodate hybrid and remote work scenarios|
|CON - additional networking needed to enable remote connectivity||PRO - can accommodate business travel|
With an on-premise system, you’ll be somewhat locked into the system you choose. Adding a large number of users quickly will be difficult. But if your organization is relatively stable, you may not need to do this often. If you often need to scale staff up or down, or you anticipate doing so in the next few years, on-premise might not be the best option.
With UCaaS, scaling up or down quickly is easy, and you can add or subtract users quickly through your customer portal. You can add or remove features as needed so that you can save money in lean times. You will also have access to the latest and greatest technology sooner as your provider continues to advance their offering.
|CON - difficult to add or remove users||PRO - can add or remove users quickly and easily|
|PRO - lower cost of ownership if you invest in a solution you'll grow into||PRO - can scale along with your organization|
|PRO - new features can be added at any time|
If you invest in an on-premise system, you’ll have a lot of options about what to buy and can invest in high-quality equipment. However, keep in mind that the pace of technology has accelerated, and your call quality might suffer if you rely on older infrastructure and tools.
If you partner with a UCaaS provider, they are tasked with keeping their equipment up to date, so your call quality will remain high.
|PRO - can choose equipment||PRO - reliable quality|
|CON - call quality may suffer if other systems aren’t up to date||CON - call quality may suffer if other systems aren't up to date|
If you choose an on-premise system, if your workplace is affected by a natural disaster, your system will likely be destroyed along with the rest of your on-premise equipment. Odds are, this is something you won’t have to worry about. But if something does happen, your system will be unrecoverable.
If you choose UCaaS, you will be able to communicate seamlessly, even in the unlikely event of a natural disaster.
|CON - vulnerable to natural disaster on-site||PRO - on-site natural disasters won’t affect service|
|CON - extensive design work needed||PRO - providers typically have additional safeguards in place to preserve service continuity|
If you’re still considering purchasing an on-premise system, it’s also important to note that your IT team will be responsible for configuring its cybersecurity. Your team may have the specialized skill set required to do so. But it’s not uncommon these days for internal IT staff to be overwhelmed, understaffed and under-skilled. Their time and skills may be put to better use elsewhere.
With UCaaS, you will benefit from your provider’s enterprise-scale cybersecurity tools. They know that if their system fails to keep their clients’ data safe, they’ll have to answer for it publicly. Therefore, they have a powerful incentive (as well as the means) to safeguard your data. While it’s natural to have a certain amount of instinctive distrust for off-site cloud solutions, they’re typically much safer.
|CON - your team must provide cybersecurity||PRO - enterprise-scale cybersecurity provided automatically|
|PRO - can customize your cybersecurity posture||CON - must trust the provider for cybersecurity controls|
If your organization is relatively stable in terms of its size and needs, your staff doesn’t work remotely, and you have a highly skilled internal IT team with the time to configure and manage an additional system, an on-premise solution might be the right fit. As an added bonus, while you’ll need a higher upfront investment, you may pay less over time.
However, for most organizations, it makes more sense to choose UCaaS for the peace of mind, ease of use, greater accessibility, and budget transparency it provides.
Finding the Right UCaaS Provider
Some UCaaS providers can sweeten the deal even further. For example, Marco’s UCaaS gives organizations access to the latest integrated applications, like real-time web and audio conferencing, mobile applications, softphones, contact center, presence, and secure instant messaging. Subscribers can also access potential savings through our Stax Program.
UCaaS isn’t the right fit for every organization. So if you’re still on the fence about which UC solution is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our communication specialists. We’ll ask in-depth questions to get to know your needs and goals so we can make a more custom recommendation.