Jon Brinton, EVP and GM of Global Cloud, Mitel
Cloud communications continues to grow as more organizations seek cost-effective and flexible solutions. However, not all paths to the cloud are created equally. It is important for an organization to weigh the right cloud options and to select the platform that will deliver the most value. That begins with virtualization.
While some confuse virtualization for cloud computing, it is in fact an underlying and enabling technology that can create the easiest, best path to cloud communications. Virtualization is the bridge organizations need when seeking to migrate from existing on-premise platforms to the cloud or even from private to public cloud.
Virtualization and its Connection to Cloud
Taking a broader look at virtualization and its benefits, this solution essentially separates software from the hardware that it runs on. It makes software servers and desktops independent of the physical hardware layer to run in a ‘virtualized’ setting. This frees applications and allows them to operate independently within an IT environment. This is the first step toward the cloud, liberating your software applications and creating hosted virtual desktops or HVDs that are centrally managed and maintained.
“Virtualization is the bridge tool to migrate from existing onpremise platforms to the cloud.”
But how exactly does virtualization help an organization migrate to a cloud solution? By separating out the software to make it independent of the hardware infrastructure, virtualization allows an organization to move from on-premise or even a private cloud to a managed service, also known as the public cloud. This is especially important for organizations seeking to maintain consistency as they extend their existing, familiar solutions to the cloud.
The Benefits of Cloud
Most companies see dramatic cost savings by eliminating capital expenditures for a predictable monthly operating cost. Some cloud solutions even allow an organization to pay per usage. Better yet, the virtualized communications solution can easily be updated as needed to continuously evolve the solution as new features are available. This is the most cited benefit for moving to cloud communications, but there are several other important benefits as well:
• Virtualizing communications provides a new level of flexibility to centrally support and manage instances across the entire company. This could include communications resources across multiple geographic offices and can even support remote and mobile workers. Further, it adds a new level of scalability to manage growth and even quickly add resources for seasonal support and spikes in business. This is especially important for contact center environments.
• In addition to flexibility, virtualization provides high resiliency that today’s businesses require for disaster recovery and support. Virtualization allows organizations to optimize instances to their business needs and, because communications support is no longer dependent on the local hardware, it can ensure high availability to keep businesses running, even during challenging situations such as a natural disaster. In fact, virtualization allows an organization to have backup resources to ensure minimal disruptions as these virtualized components quickly make the switch.
• Perhaps the greatest benefit most companies see in moving to a managed cloud service aside from cost savings is the ability to focus on the business’s core competencies as a result of less time required to manage their communications system.
Virtualization Strategies for Moving to Cloud Communications
Organizations looking to migrate to cloud communications should consider a number of strategies around virtualization to help enable the smoothest and best path to the cloud.
• Seek out cloud-based solutions that have native virtualization support as opposed to clunky, ported solutions. Running on native virtualized solutions, such as that from VMWare, will ensure the most efficiency, quickest speeds and easiest maintenance.
• Plan ahead. Even if your organization does not move to a cloud-based communications system today, they should plan to eventually migrate to the cloud in the future. In an environment where ROI is scrutinized, even an on-premise solution should have a path to the cloud.
• Don’t get locked into a premise or cloud-only swim lane. Find options that allow your organization to migrate toward hybrid services on the way to pure Cloud delivery options so you can migrate at your own pace. Organizations opting for an on-premise solution today can plan for their future with a platform that will allow them to migrate to the cloud when the organization is ready. Some vendors have built in software that, with virtualization, can enable a company to move to the cloud at its own pace without scrapping their investment.
• The cloud is not an on-off switch. Many organizations have moved toward a private cloud, hosting virtualized software on their own network to start. And while they see savings and flexibility through a private cloud platform, there are significant cost-benefits in moving to a public cloud or managed service. The UCaaS or Unified Communications as a Service model in particular allows organizations to essentially outsource their communications systems to a reliable service provider with attractive pay-per-use billing. Again, seek out a vendor that will allow your organization to migrate to a managed solution as needed.
• Lastly, find a solution that is proven and tested. It may be attractive to find vendors that are cloud only, but often the vendors that offer both on-premise and cloud solutions and who also offer hybrid solutions have the most experience in helping organizations migrate to the best communications solution for their organization. Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach.
Paying attention to your virtualization strategy can greatly help you organization set itself up for cloud communications success. It can provide the smoothest migration path to help you secure the cost savings, flexibility and resiliency that the cloud promises.