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Decisions Decisions…

October 27, 2014
The traditional approach for SMBs is to deploy the communications capabilities that they will need on-premises using software installed on servers and/or appliances, all of which is managed by internal IT staff or consultants. While this is a viable option, it presents SMBs with a number of disadvantages:
SMB’s tend to have higher costs than enterprises because SMB’s underutilize IT staff and the on premises infrastructure is being used at the capacity of servers or appliances.
The alternative for smaller SMBs is to use a part-time IT staff person, such as an office manager who is charged with maintaining the on-premises communications capabilities. The problem is that a part-time IT staffer is unlikely to be as well versed at maintaining servers, applying patches and generally maintaining the necessary skill set to address problems as they arise.  This person will not be available on a 24×7 basis to deal with issues as they
For most SMBs, managing on-premises communications and collaboration systems does not have the expertise and so the organization is using outside resources. This results in higher opportunity costs because the organization is diverting resources away from activities that might generate more sales or create competitive advantage for the organization.
On-premises management of communications and collaboration capabilities by an SMB will mean that the organization may miss out on new and innovative ways of making employees more productive.
There are a variety of benefits associated with deploying messaging and related
services using specialist cloud providers instead of managing them using on-premises
Lower Costs
One of the most important benefits of the cloud for email, telephony, collaboration, security, mobility or other IT-related services is its lower cost of ownership. This is true for enterprises, but it’s especially the case for SMBs.  Osterman Research cost modeling of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for various messaging and collaboration services have demonstrated that delivery of these services are normally lower when delivered via the cloud. There are several reasons for the typically lower TCO for cloud-based services, including lower labor costs, the lack of up-front costs and the ability of the cloud to enable smaller organizations to operate on a more level playing field in the context of per-seat costs of service delivery.
More Predictable Costs
Cloud messaging and collaboration services offer more predictable costs than on premises because the cost per seat is fixed over the lifetime of the service. Cloud providers are responsible for unforseen problems that could create additional costs than on premises deployments.
Reduced opportunity costs
 Most decision makers understand that finding and retaining qualified IT staff is not all that easy, especially in a good economy.
As a result, in-house IT staff members should be used in a manner that allows them to provide maximum benefit to their employer, while also giving them a satisfying work experience that will motivate them not to go elsewhere. Using cloud-based services frees IT staff members from the requirement to constantly monitor servers or appliances to ensure continuous uptime, freeing them for work that is not only more interesting to them, but also more compelling for the business.
Faster deployment
Deploying a cloud service is normally much faster than deploying an on premises solution, allowing faster ROI because    hardware and software infrastructure is already in place; and, there are experienced experts readily available to ensure a smooth migration.
Minimal Disruptions in Service
Because leading cloud providers offer a carrier grade infrastructure-something very few SMBs can afford-disruptions are dramatically lowered.
Access to external expertise
A cloud provider can offer access to well-trained technical support staff that are available on an around-the-clock basis and that can typically resolve problems quickly and with minimum impact on their customers. The continual service advantage should not be minimized when considering cloud providers. Because few companies operate on an 8-to-5, Monday through Friday schedule, and many issues arise outside of business hours, it is just as critical to have access to service expertise at 2:00am on a Saturday night as it is during normal business hours. This allows users to have their issues resolved quickly and without the cost and burden of maintaining in-house staff to manage a help desk, etc. In short, a specialist will almost always offer better service and support when resolving problems.

Next week: How Do SMB’s Choose the Right Cloud Provider??

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