Cloud this. Cloud that. Cloud everywhere. Whether it’s your personal life or business life, cloud technologies are increasingly dominant. And there’s good reason for that.
Cloud simplifies the deployment of services and applications, making centralized delivery to multiple users cost-effective and easy. Cloud simplifies management hugely - update once in the cloud, and all users can instantly get the latest version. The cloud also delivers agility and scalability that other technologies can only dream of. Need to add more users to your sales department at peak times? No problem, just scale up the cloud service. Need to add a new employee to your workplace collaboration? No problem, just switch on another user in the cloud service.
But it’s not always that simple. While the incessant march of cloud technologies is unstoppable, the reality today is that most individuals and most businesses are actually hybrid. “Being hybrid” is a real thing for most people. But what does it mean? Let me explain.
Let’s look at the personal perspective first. Consider how you access music these days. Do you stream via Apple Music or Spotify? I do. These are cloud services. Do you still carefully curate and play your collection of vinyl, cassettes or CDs? Yes, of course. These are on-premises solutions. I do both. This is “being hybrid”. Consider also how you store and back-up your personal memories such as family photos or videos, which is now an entirely digital world for many. Do you regularly back them up to a hard disk at home? I have done for years. Do you also back them up to cloud services such as iCloud, Google Photos, Amazon, OneDrive or Dropbox. Yes, I do that too. The twin backup strategy of on-premises and cloud is considered best practice, and there is no way I want to lose any of those precious memories. If you don’t do this, please start today! Again, this is “being hybrid” in action, in your personal life. “Being hybrid” works because the reality is that, in most cases, cloud services enhance and complement our experiences rather than replacing them entirely - even if the advertising from technology vendors tries to tell you differently.
It’s similar in the world of business communications. Over the last twenty years, technologies have evolved from analog to digital. Deployment methods have changed from on-premises to cloud. Communication methods have evolved from phone calls to emails to instant messaging and cloud-based video collaboration. However, most businesses are not yet at the extremely modern end of the technology spectrum that technology vendors love to pitch as the “only way forward”. The reality for most organizations is that they are, in fact, somewhere on the journey to digital, to cloud or to collaboration. They know they want to get there, they understand the benefits, but they are not yet prepared to throw away existing technology or working practices that they’ve already paid for and that work just fine, thank you very much. For the vast majority of businesses, “being hybrid” is also their reality, with a real mix of analog, digital, on-premises, cloud, phone calls, emails, IM and video collaboration tech being used across their user base. The bigger the organization, the more users or locations, the more this hybrid reality prevails.
“Being Hybrid” in a Microsoft Intelligent Communications World
So, how does this relate to the world of Microsoft intelligent communications (the term Microsoft now uses to describe unified communications) in a business environment? If you believe the hype and buy into the Microsoft marketing story, intelligent communications in the modern workplace is all about their new, and frankly excellent, cloud offering, Microsoft Teams. A bright future of users sharing their documents, making phone calls, escalating to video calls, collaborating in real time and, in short, running their entire working day through the window onto the cloud that is presented by Microsoft Teams. This is Microsoft’s cloud-based vision for modern workplace collaboration. As I noted, it’s an excellent tool and I use it daily for all of the tasks noted above. It works brilliantly for team collaboration and productivity - and reduces email pain!
However, exclusively using cloud-based collaboration via Teams is not the answer for everyone who uses Microsoft tools for their business communications. Many organizations have requirements that reach beyond the capabilities of Microsoft Teams today. Some examples:
- Organizations with security practices that mean they prefer on-premises technologies rather than cloud-based technologies.
- Organizations that need specific business applications integrated with their Microsoft communications experience, for example contact center capabilities for customer service teams.
- Organizations where regulatory compliance makes the use of specific technologies mandatory, for example call recording in the financial services sector.
- Organizations needing the fully fledged “PBX” communication features that Skype for Business can provide today.
- Organizations currently using Skype for Business Server (on-premises) and looking to manage a phased migration to Microsoft Teams over time, rather than move all users to Teams at once.
For these organizations, “being hybrid” in a Microsoft intelligent communications world makes perfect sense. But is it possible? The answer is yes - by working with a vendor such as AudioCodes, who takes a pragmatic approach to blending new cloud offerings with traditional on-premises solutions to help businesses migrate at their own pace and maximize their ROI on Microsoft tools.
CloudBond™ 365, “Being Hybrid” Made Simple
One excellent solution from AudioCodes that helps organizations “be hybrid” is CloudBond™ 365. This modular solution delivers on-premises voice connectivity for data centers, customer premises and branch offices in both Skype for Business and Teams environments. CloudBond™ 365 combines the best of Skype for Business Server, Microsoft Phone System and service provider voice services (PSTN or SIP trunking connectivity) in a versatile, all-in-one hardware and software package that adapts with organizations as their requirements change. CloudBond™ 365 also supports certified applications such as contact centers, and includes AudioCodes’ User Management Pack™ 365 application for simplified user lifecycle management.
What’s more, organizations can leverage CloudBond™ 365 to deliver a complete Microsoft unified communications offering by adding complementary AudioCodes solutions including Microsoft-certified IP phones and Huddle Room Solutions, analog device integration (phones, fax machines), real-time voice quality monitoring and centralized dial plan and calling policy management. With CloudBond™ 365, AudioCodes makes it possible to “be hybrid” in a Microsoft world. It’s also the perfect solution to help organizations transition from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams at their own pace, via a simple reconfiguration of the appliance. During and after migration, CloudBond™ 365 can operate as a fully certified session border controller or media gateway, providing Direct Routing connectivity for Teams users.
“Being Hybrid” in Practice – TeeKay
Don’t just take our word for it. AudioCodes’ customer Teekay is a great example of “being hybrid” in practice.
Teekay is one of the world’s largest marine energy transportation, storage and production companies, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, with offices all over the globe. Teekay needed a fully functioning PBX replacement solution based on Skype for Business that would seamlessly integrate with the existing on-premises and cloud-based Skype for Business infrastructure. AudioCodes CloudBond™ 365 and expert professional services team successfully delivered the right solution for Teekay’s needs.
Darin Bains, CIO at Teekay, is highly satisfied with the solution. “AudioCodes’ CloudBond™ 365 solution is unique in offering flexible hybrid voice connectivity for any Skype for Business environment, whether on-premises or in the cloud,” commented Mr. Bains. “AudioCodes excels both in terms of its technical solution and the expertise and level of assistance offered by its engineers,” he continued, “We look forward to expanding the solution to our other offices and partnering with AudioCodes when we take on the next challenge of migrating to Microsoft Teams.”
So, there you have it. “Being hybrid” is real. It’s a genuine technology requirement for most organizations and, as you can see, AudioCodes is in a unique position to help organizations on their digital transformation journey.
Visit the AudioCodes website to read more about CloudBond™ 365,
Learn more about Teekay’s experience with AudioCodes.