For the majority of business owners, the terms “hosted” and anything delivered as-a-Service (like Software-as-a-Service) are synonymous. After all, both imply outsourcing network infrastructure to a remote, privately managed environment. In the B2B UC collaboration space, however, the two have completely different meanings.
An easy way to visualize the difference between hosted UC and Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) is to compare a stay in a hotel versus a stay in a hostel. A hosted infrastructure environment is a lot like having a private room at a hotel due to the fact that your company will be provided with a separate space with its own network capacity and network infrastructure for running UC apps. Utilizing this type of solution involves transferring your own UC equipment into a private facility where it will be maintained and optimized by someone else.
This is not always the best option, though. Many smaller businesses are choosing instead to transfer business operations to a UCaaS environment, which is a lot like a hostel in that it involves sharing the same network infrastructure, much like you might find yourself sharing a room with strangers. It’s a multi-tenant space where customers retain access to private, individual UC accounts yet share the same infrastructure with many different companies.
It is important to note that certain industries are restricted to a specific type of cloud delivery model. For instance, the healthcare and finance industries require a hosted environment that is strictly separated to avoid miscommunications or lost data. These types of businesses require hosted UC offerings as a result. It however, does not necessarily imply that UCaaS is any less safe, according to Ken Landoline, principal analyst of unified communications and contact center for Current Analysts, Inc.
“While some enterprises may feel safer in a hosted UC environment on their own dedicated server, I’m not aware of any major data breaches in a shared environment related to UC,” he says, adding that most large cloud providers will offer tested and proven offerings.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to the amount of privacy you feel your business needs, the amount of money you are willing to spend and the level of trust you place in your hosted provider.