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What Does Hybrid Unified Communications Really Mean?

Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 14:00
Hybrid UC

According to Gartner, hybrid unified communications (UC) and Collaboration allows organizations to blend traditional on-premises UC with private and public cloud models. This “blending” is accomplished using an interconnected system of enterprise communication devices and applications, used together or in succession. But what does hybrid UC mean in practical terms?

The Technologies Involved in Hybrid UC

Hybrid UC can consist of cloud-based UC services that link to on-site hardware or other host-provided services. The software and services joining these technologies include IP telephony and Voice-over-IP (VoIP), presence, messaging and conferencing-based offerings. West provides several solutions falling under the hybrid UC umbrella. Nowadays – in true hybrid fashion - it is common to find companies using a combination of existing server and telephony technology to carry out daily tasks. Examples might include implementing hosted voice, messaging and video services through Cisco Jabber or utilizing enhanced cloud-based productivity tools like Microsoft Office 365.

Which Equipment or Systems are Required by Hybrid UC?

If you viewed hybrid UC through a proverbial lens, you’d find it’s generally comprised of hardware that resides at the cloud-hosting company, containing software APIs (Application Program Interfaces) and services that connect to customer’s on-site equipment like modems, PBXs, phones, etc. Typically, companies can access some of these services via client applications or web portals. Required equipment will really depend on the type of hybrid setup deployed. For example, companies may choose to integrate an onsite switch or modem with cloud-based voicemail and other voice services. Another possibility would be to use an IP-PBX phone system at a main office while installing cloud-based phone services at smaller branch offices. Working with an industry expert like West helps organizations to maximize the investment of on-premises equipment while adding cloud-based functionality.

Hybrid Integrations: Possible Customer Scenarios

One typical hybrid situation occurs when on-site hardware is integrated with a cloud-based UC application or service. For instance, connecting landline telephony with call-handling hunt groups enables more effective voice communications, both in-house and with outside client contacts, using advanced call-routing protocols. Another example of hybrid UC is when two different cloud-hosted UC products partner together for a more empowering communications solution.

Pairing an on-premises PBX with MaxxConnect SIP Trunking makes use of existing on-site hardware by offering cloud-based features such as nationwide dial tone, inbound and outbound calling, competitive long distance and international rates across an application-aware MPLS network. In this way a hybrid alliance is achieved using both local hardware and hosted unified communications services. Also, integrating hosted UC products for enhanced communications capabilities could include using a voice service solution like VoiceMaxx CE for call control and adding Cisco Spark services for file sharing, meetings and messaging. In fact, this solution meets so many UC needs that it has been bundled as Cisco Spark Hybrid for a comprehensive hybrid solution.

When does a Hybrid Approach Make Sense?

With any business decision, you want to make the choice that best meets your company’s needs for the tasks at hand. If any of these items are considerations, then a hybrid or hosted unified communications approach is likely the route to pursue:

  • Business continuity and disaster recovery is critical to the business

  • On-site IT support resources are stretched too thin or require further knowledge and training on the UC solution implemented

  • The company needs the flexibility to add/remove both users and features as infrastructure changes occur

  • The capabilities of the current on-premises UC equipment needs to be upgraded or expanded to meet current and future communication requests

  • Employers and employees are looking for more comprehensive and efficient UC tools

  • Management is asking for real-time management and monitoring of the unified communications system

The true meaning and power of hybrid unified communications is this: using cloud-based services partnered with on-site resources can maximize the use of on-premises equipment. It can give legacy hardware, software, and services new life and new purpose, while upgrading available features and services to meet current and future business needs.


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