Looking around, we see that the substance of the ‘premise vs. hosted’ debate has shifted. Users no longer ask whether the hosted VoIP model will work. Technology that enables voice and data convergence is here. It works. Period.
We are reminded of the evolution of the debate over offshore versus domestic outsourcing: it became apparent that the two were not mutually exclusive and that the solution was often a mix of both according to particular circumstances, and ‘right-shoring’ emerged. This is now mirrored in the ‘premise vs. hosted’ debate. Again it has become apparent that they are not mutually exclusive and therefore a hybrid mix of the two is often the right answer.
We have moved into a new phase – ‘premise AND hosted’ (‘right-hosting’, anyone?) – which asks exactly which elements of a VoIP deployment should sit in the cloud and which should be premise-based. We vendors should offer as much assistance as possible to potential users in coming to the appropriate ‘right-hosting’ mix because the answers are often not clear cut. Decision makers often have different viewpoints in areas of security, quality and customer satisfaction which give rise to strong opinions on the method of storage and access to applications.
For example, customers without advanced infrastructure or technical staff might use hosted servers for both applications and storage. But users dealing with sensitive customer information may not trust hosted storage, and see the premise-based model as delivering the best possible quality for customer communication.
It seems that, for the time being at least, VoIP deployments will employ a mixture of cloud- and premise-based elements, with hosting often being employed to complement rather than replace premise-based systems, e.g. immediate failover to a hosted platform if the inhouse system goes down, or overflow to hosted when extra capacity is needed.
But vendors need some humility, too. Expect convergence to favour a hosted model, but don’t be surprised if as a result of human & other factors, purely premise-based systems continue to have a healthy life.