How On-Prem PBX and Cloud Calling Can Co-Exist

Migrating from on-premise PBX systems to the cloud is a hot topic for enterprise IT leaders. A recent global study from Metrigy found that the primary calling architecture for 31 percent of respondents was an on-prem PBX. About 30 percent of enterprises used cloud services such as UCaaS, and another 20 percent relied on a hosted platform.

“We hear a lot about UCaaS, but there is a lot of PBX infrastructure still being maintained and managed,” said Diane Myers, chief analyst, Metrigy. “It’s been the standard for decades and it persists today.”

Myers led a discussion on “Maintain and Migrate: How On-Prem PBX and Cloud Calling Can Co-Exist,” at a recent Enterprise Connect webinar with Jon Shelby, vice president of business development, Continuant. Eric Krapf, general manager, Enterprise Connect, hosted the session, which was sponsored by Continuant, a UC systems integrator and managed service provider.

In her talk, Myers noted that enterprises are moving to the cloud, but slowly. “There are a lot of things to consider when moving your calling platform,” Myers added. “It’s not something you can just change by flipping a switch.”

Based on the Metrigy survey, 44 percent of respondents have no plans to move their on-prem calling platform, 13 percent plan to fully move to the cloud in 2023 another 13 percent will move in 2024 and 21 percent are currently evaluating a move to the cloud.

What’s slowing the move to cloud calling? Shelby cited three issues he hears from enterprise customers, including the ongoing ROI from on-prem voice systems and prior integrations that haven’t aged well. “But the biggest reason is misconceptions about cloud calling,” he said. “It’s perceived as not as reliable, not as available, and more expensive. But when properly built, cloud calling can be a better solution.”

Shelby said many organizations are migrating to Microsoft Teams to provide a more integrated user experience (UX). “Rather than a best-of-breed approach, companies are looking at a platform with calling, meeting, and collaboration apps,” he said. “Today, providing a consistent and easy UX is critical for productivity.”

Myers said most organizations looking at cloud calling, prefer a single vendor, if possible. “There are lots of options for connecting, including direct routing and operator connect,” she said. “But direct routing is not a simple plug-and-play, flip-the-switch activity. There is a lot of integration that is needed, including updating the dial plans and getting the session border controllers (SBCs) up and running.”

Another issue is UC security, added Myers, noting that only a third of respondents to the Metrigy survey said they were actively monitoring their team collaboration channels.  “Unfortunately, there can be vulnerabilities, especially when working with multiple vendors,” she said.

So, why make the move?

While on-prem PBX systems are still delivering value to many enterprises, Myers said there are strong reasons driving businesses to UCaaS platforms, including:

• Potential cost savings

• Better work-from-home support

• More features

• Better user experience

• Better scale

• Offload UC management

For Avaya IT professionals considering migration to the cloud, IAUG offers a number of resources, including webinars, blogs, and more.

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