- If you are a bank and taking sensitive customer and account information, a public cloud option may not be for you.
- If you are a hospital collecting patient-sensitive data from a mobile phone, a public cloud option may not be for you.
- If you are an internal IT team managing multiple locations and need the flexibility of the cloud but must maintain strict compliance regulations, the public cloud may not be for you…
But, a private cloud option is something for all the above to consider.
What Is a Private Cloud Deployment?
Most cloud computing conversations focus on public deployments, so it helps to take a step back and actually define private cloud deployments.
Private clouds are computing platforms that are implemented within a client’s own IT environment. Rather than relying on publicly-hosted cloud communication, private clouds use equipment that resides on site (within your space). The software then sits atop your existing hardware. That software automates the provisioning of resources, manages access to infrastructure resource, and tracks usage.
This approach can benefit all kinds of mid-sized organizations. But if you’ve just upgraded your hardware to support virtualization, it makes even more sense. For example, taking advantage of an on-premises PBX phone infrastructure to deploy private cloud communications helps you maintain security, compliance, and control over the constant flow of updates.
What are My Private and Private Cloud Options?
The shift to cloud-first decision making has only intensified since 2016. And while public cloud computing, collaboration, and communication offer significant benefits, it’s also been a challenge for many business managers.
Cloud communications (a.k.a. hosted communications) has seen 25% year-over-year growth among mid-sized organizations. But in many cases, the jump from predominantly on-premises to networking to near-universal public cloud usage can be a bit jarring, to say the least. Not every business is ready to make the move, and as indicated in the opening scenarios, large enterprises and compliance-heavy industries like government and financial services may not be able to take advantage of the flexibility and turn-key advantages of the cloud. The good news is that it is no longer an “all or nothing” decision. Today’s private and hybrid cloud options are giving businesses a middle ground option between traditional on-premises and total cloud emersion.
Rather than forcing public cloud deployments to meet demands for security and control, the private cloud offers flexibility to meet strict requirements without sacrificing cloud benefits.
The Impact of Private Cloud on Business Communications
It’s easy to get caught up in the all the benefits of public cloud communications. You get a simple, pay-as-you-go model. You can scale up or down according to your evolving needs. And you eliminate the majority of headaches from on-premises IT management.
When everything is running smoothly, communications become an afterthought. It’s all well and good until your public cloud provider experiences an outage and an important client call drops. Suddenly you can’t transfer important sales requests and you start losing business.
That possibility might be enough to ignore cloud communications, but then you miss out on things like advanced collaboration features, triage capabilities, ring groups, contact center/CRM integration, data redundancy, and more. These can only be found in the cloud.
Cloud or No Cloud – this is no longer the question. The real value of a private cloud environment is the fact that you get all the functionality and performance of the cloud and still maintain control over everything that happens to your applications and services.
Essential Features in Private Cloud Environments
Just because private cloud communications leverage on-premises hardware doesn’t mean you miss out on features associated with hosted systems. Here are 6 public cloud features you also receive with private cloud communications.
- Advanced Call Routing: Design your call routing to match the context of demand within your business. You can choose percentage allocation, which controls volume different locations receive by assigning percentages of calls to each office. Or, you can choose a round-robin approach that equally distributes calls to each location until one answers. There are also ring group opportunities, which allow you to have multiple phones ring for incoming calls, boosting customer experiences by improving triage. You can also take simpler approaches by segmenting by geographic location or implementing a sequential order for incoming calls.
- Failover Eliminates Abandoned Calls: If your call center experiences service disruption, you can quickly route calls to a working location and ensure that no call is abandoned.
- Never Experience Downtime: Beyond call failover, you can take advantage of geo-redundancy (and/or data redundancy). Even if a cloud-hosted data center goes down, you can maintain service availability by shifting to a redundant data center.
- Maximum Flexibility: Scale gracefully from 75 to 10,000 users, adding features at your own pace. It’s an owned communications environment without the management complexity.
- CRM Integration: Personalized customer experiences are becoming a necessity rather than a luxury. When your CRM is integrated into communications systems, your agents will know exactly who they’re interacting with before picking up the call. Rather than running through the frustrating identification process, customers will enjoy a streamlined call.
- Real-Time Customer Intelligence: Real-time analytics help you make informed communications decisions and gain full visibility into performance across locations. This data will help you identify which locations can handle more calls and simple management interfaces allow you to instantly change call routing.
When deployed and utilized properly, these features lead to a number of private cloud communications benefits.
5 Benefits of Private Cloud Communications
Deploying your communications systems in the middle ground of private clouds doesn’t just unlock unique features. It also gives your business benefits such as:
- Strength and Security: The public cloud comes with potential reliability and bandwidth issues. By design, you relinquish most control and security when taking that deployment path. But with private clouds, you can select customer servers and hardware to meet any specific business objectives and performance goals. If you’re undergoing compliance audits, public cloud deployments can be risky. You might have an accepted setup, but it’s a risk. Private clouds don’t have this problem and can get you to 100% compliance even under the strictest regulations.
- Powerful Integrations: Legacy infrastructure is a fact of life for most mid-sized organizations. You’re probably not choosing a new communications system in a vacuum. That means integrations are critical for IT efficiency. Private cloud deployments are customizable, so you can leverage all the integrations needed to facilitate streamlined IT management.
- Budgeting Flexibility: Shifting to the public cloud means going from a CAPEX to OPEX model. But with private cloud communications, you can choose whichever is best for your business. Private cloud platforms can be procured through a CAPEX or perpetual license model, or through a solutions provider using an OPEX model.
- Maintain Compliance: Data regulation will only grow more stringent in the coming years. HIPAA, PCI-DSS, SOX, FEDRAMP, and the like will undergo continuous change. And like it or not, we have to keep up. Private cloud environments are well-suited to meet the evolving demands of regulatory compliance.
- Centralize Administration: Control communications for your distributed workforce from a single, centralized interface. Manage call flows to all locations, change routes at any time, view performance analytics, and tweak Ring Groups to maximize effectiveness.
These benefits are enough to push many IT leaders and business owners down the path of private cloud communications. However, you still need to navigate the crowded market of vendors effectively.
Evaluating Your Private Cloud Communications Options
When you look at the market closely, you see that there are a handful of business communications providers that do private cloud communications well. Mitel Networks, Corp., and it’s MiCloud Flex solution leads the market alongside offerings from 8x8, Inc., and Ring Central.
In a recent commissioned analysis by Tolly, these three vendors were evaluated for their feature sets. The Mitel solution builds upon a strong heritage of core functionality expected from business-class unified communications (UC) with sophisticated capabilities that rival the cloud-based offerings from 8x8 and Ring Central. Across all key areas analyzed, the Mitel MiCloud solutions match or exceeds the offerings from 8x8 and RingCentral. Check out the full report and be sure to take a look at Table 1 for an “At a Glance” comparison.
Luckily, a private cloud environment like the MiFlex system provides the internal IT team with the controls and security of an on-premises system while gaining cloud functionality. With a private cloud, you avoid the “forced” features of cloud connectivity, such as automatic updates and upgrades. Instead, you give your internal team more control over software updates, MAC addresses, and more.
But how does it all work together? MiFlex combines the power of the cloud with the convenience and rich functionality of an on-premises system. This unique private cloud environment provides users with the following onsite features:
- Geo-redundant data centers that continue to provide service even in the rare event that one goes down.
- Maximum flexibility to create your own communications environment without the complexity of managing it all yourself. Scale gracefully from 75 to 10,000 users, growing and adding features at your own pace.
- Consistent employee experiences regardless of whether they’re in an office, on the road, or working remotely.
- Private cloud controls over software updates that enable your team to schedule system updates on your company’s own schedule.
- Ring Group Opportunities to better triage incoming calls and present a better customer experience.
Want to learn more about how you can unlock the flexibility and simplicity of private cloud communications through innovative Mitel offerings? Visit our Blue Fox Group solutions page.
Once you’ve explored the different ways to connect a private cloud communications platform, your next step is to assess your organization’s structure and requirements.