Unified communications as a service was, until recently, seen as a fairly exotic, cutting-edge technology. But by now, many companies have embraced UCaaS for their enterprise communications needs, taking advantage of the cloud's superior cost-efficiency and accessibility, among other benefits. An even larger number of firms are considering such a move in the near future. For these organizations, the obvious question is how to choose the best available UCaaS offering for their unique needs and goals.
There are many factors to consider in this regard. Two of the most important, as PC World contributor Paul Desmond recently highlighted, are security and reliability.
Security ConcernsSecurity has always been a concern in the realm of cloud computing. For many years, companies largely avoided cloud services primarily because they feared that these solutions would put their information and assets at risk of loss or exposure. These fears have largely receded, and rightfully so - by and large, the cloud is at least as secure as legacy computing solutions. But that does not mean that cloud security is no longer an issue worthy of attention.
In particular, Desmond emphasized the need for supplemental UCaaS security tools, such as session border controllers. SBCs, he explained, provide security "for IP-based communications based on the Session Initiation Protocol."
Essentially, SBCs act like firewalls, but firewalls that are specifically designed to function in a UC context. A standard firewall is meant to create a barrier between the corporate network and everything beyond. When audio or video comes in over the IP, a firewall will often interpret these as attacks, which it subsequently prevents. This tremendously undermines the utility and value of the UCaaS solution. An SBC, on the other hand, can distinguish between authorized and dangerous traffic, letting the former through while preventing the latter.
ReliabilityAnother key UCaaS consideration, according to Desmond, is reliability. The writer pointed out that while any cloud service depends heavily on a reliable connection, this is especially true when it comes to UC applications, as these are frequently more demanding and delay-sensitive. A UCaaS solution may appear ideal in every capacity, but it can only deliver on its promise if the vendor can guarantee a solid, dependable connection. As Demond noted, a standard, local ISP is likely not sufficient.
By paying close attention to these two areas, businesses interested in UCaaS can better position themselves to gain the maximum benefits and return on their investment.