Unified Communications: UC vs UCaaS?

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Unified communications solutions have a big role to play in the modern workplace empowering employees to collaborate and communicate across geographies, countries and time zones. Converging various forms of critical communications, UC enables employees to communicate via their preferred channel and take advantage of:

  • Voice/audio calls
  • Audio and video conferencing
  • Messaging
  • IM and presence
  • Email, and
  • Screenshare


UC vs UCaaS

There are various ways to deploy UC depending on the needs and capacity of the organisation. In fact, one of the biggest decisions businesses face when considering a new unified communications solution is choosing between on-premise UC vs UCaaS hosted approach.

While it’s true more businesses than ever are opting for UCaaS because it’s simple, affordable, and scalable, it’s not the only solution for all businesses. Of course, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) from October 2018 found that 90% of IT executives will stop investing in new on-premises UC infrastructure by 2021. Yet, despite this assertion, there are strong reasons to invest in on-premise UC technology.

To help you determine the best way ahead for your business, we’ve put together the following points for you to consider.

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Operational costs vs capital expenditure

One of the attractions of a UCaaS solution is it’s a monthly cost that requires little in the way of an upfront financial investment to implement.

With a cloud solution, the infrastructure that allows you to provide UC functions (chat, messaging, presence, etc.) resides in the data centre of your service provider. Your IP connection to the cloud enables your staff to access that functionality. This means you avoid the CAPEX outlay for UC infrastructure, rack space, power, and cooling etc. The back-end infrastructure is all bundled in the monthly fee.

However, while a monthly operational cost can be highly attractive, a cloud-based solution can prove to be more costly over time. When establishing an on-premise solution, it’s a one-time purchase of hardware and services that then become an asset of your business. 


Keeping technology up-to-date

As with other SaaS solutions, UCaaS software updates are maintained by the cloud provider, so, as a subscriber, you’re always up-to-date. And keeping pace with new requirements and regular platform maintenance is effortless thanks to service providers handling these for you. With an on-premise solution, upgrades or enhancements can consume significant resources depending on the architecture of the UC solution.


UC vs UCaaS flexibility

In today’s business environment, any degree of downtime can seriously impact the bottom line. UCaaS solutions allow businesses to adapt to unpredictable situations, like automatically rerouting calls in the case of a network outage. However, should hosted services go down, your business will be incommunicado, and wholly exposed to your provider’s ability to fix things quickly.



With a UCaaS solution, you are not tied to a long-term investment in a platform that may not fit your needs in the future as your business grows. IT teams can turn on new UC features alongside existing communications systems to evaluate deployments. As new UC features become available, IT teams can roll out new functionality when it makes sense for the business.

On the other hand, making an investment in technology that lives inside your business, you can expect enhanced control and the ability to build your own integrations. However, with on-premise UC, the re-engineering required to replace existing infrastructure can result in communication downtime.


UC vs UCaaS reliability

Traditional on-premise UC systems are designed to be 99.999% reliable. And while it’s the same with UCaaS, with a hosted solution, you have to factor in:

  • The reliability of the internet
  • The reliability of the provider
  • The reliability of the data network carrying the traffic.

So, it’s unlikely that a UCaas solution can achieve the same high level of reliability as an on-premise UC solution.


UC vs UCaaS maintenance and support

With a cloud-based system, support is generally included by the hosted provider, so for most companies, maintaining the UC platform is effortless. Whereas, when deploying an on-premise solution, resources are required to oversee maintenance and support which can become a significant piece of work.


The right way for your business?

There is no one right answer to the question of UC vs UCaaS. Depending on your specific needs, location, and industry requirements, a hybrid of the two might be what your business requires. To find out, the team at imei offers guidance around the latest on-premise UC and UCaaS solutions.

> Get in touch


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Topics: Unified Communications