What’s the Difference between Premise, Cloud, Hybrid

Unified Communications & Collaboration 

Today’s workforce is the most diverse ever with four generations working side by side. Successful enterprises know that teaming has a large impact on profitability and innovation. So how do modern enterprises enable teaming across the generations and around the globe?

The answer is Unified Communications and Collaboration: an all-in-one platform that delivers calling, meeting, and collaboration tools drives productivity, increases efficiency, and promotes complex problem solving.

Modern Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) offers organizations technology that’s mobile-first, optimized for video, and accessible from multiple devices and it's rapidly becoming the de facto standard for business communications.

A Cisco sponsored report says 41% of organizations have/are implementing UCC: 28% are expanding or upgrading their UC&C; and 14% of organizations are planning to implement UC&C. That’s 83% of all organizations are using a UC&C solution or plan to.

But how organizations are implementing UC&C varies between on-premises, cloud-hosted, or hybrid systems. There is no right or wrong choice; it just depends on the size and geographic footprint of your organization, your vertical, business drivers, and preferred financial model. What is important to remember is that UC&C is key to staying competitive no matter what your business is or what its size.

We'll work with you to implement the right consumption model for your organization. Each offers advantages that align with different business models and drivers.


  • CAPEX Model
  • Real-Time Internal Updates
  • Secure/Control Data Internally
  • Seasonal Traffic
  • In-House IT Staff

Cloud Solutions

  • OPEX Model
  • Easily Scalable
  • Flexible Functionality
  • Dispersed Footprint/Mobile Employees
  • Business Continuity
  • Automatic Updates
  • Hybrid Solutions

Hybrid Solutions

  • Best of Both Worlds
  • Dynamic Enterprise Applications
  • Control Sensitive Data
  • Flexible Functionality
  • Temporary Capacity
  • Business Continuity

On-Premises UC&C

The traditional approach to a communications solution, particularly for mid-size and large organizations, was to purchase and operate a solution on site because there was no cloud alternative. Today, there are choices and organizations may choose an on-premise solution for a number of reasons. An on-premise solution follows a CAPEX model and requires a large initial capital investment, which was often cost prohibitive for smaller organizations. Some organizations may prefer a CAPEX model, especially if they already have existing equipment. While the initial investment may be far greater than other models, in the long run, on-premise systems may actually have a lower total cost of ownership than other models.

One disadvantage (or advantage depending on your point of view) is that an on-premise solution requires significant internal IT resources for management and maintenance. A plus though is that the solution can be customized if necessary to meet specific business requirements and equipment is readily accessible if there are problems. If internal IT resources and budgets are lean, organizations may consider a cloud or hybrid solution.

Organizations may also choose an on-premise system for security reasons. Verticals such as finance, healthcare, or government may prefer to keep control of sensitive customer and patient data in-house rather than expose it to the cloud.

Another, often overlooked consideration is if the business has seasonal traffic fluctuations, such as during the holidays.

Cloud UC&C

Cloud solutions continue to grow in popularity, particularly with smaller and mid-size organizations that couldn’t afford the investment in an on-premise solution. MZA has forecasted that cloud-based business communication licenses will increase by 89% in the next five years. Hosted-cloud systems offer multiple benefits not found in premise systems.

Hosted-cloud systems offer multiple benefits not found in premise solutions. The first and most obvious one is the cloud’s OPEX model. Organizations can update their communications system with no initial capital investment and they will have fixed, controllable monthly fees based on features and number of users.

Cloud solutions are flexible, scalable, and particularly attractive to organizations with limited internal IT resources, especially at remote locations. Companies can pick and choose which features and functions they want and where. The cloud makes is extremely easy to add new and remote users too. And, cloud providers also keep subscribers up to date with the latest capabilities so users don’t have to worry about managing technology upgrades.

Another advantage of a cloud solution is time to market. Cloud is fast, especially compared to on-premises systems that may take months or a year or more to plan and implement.

Security and reliability can be a concern with cloud models. A cloud solution is dependent upon a reliable internet connection and will most likely not achieve the same level of reliability (typically 99.999%) as a traditional premise system. But, unlike a premise solution, there is no single point of failure and disaster recovery and business continuity are more easily achieved.

Hybrid UC&C

A hybrid on-premises/cloud UC&C system gives you the best of both worlds. You can balance what to migrate to the cloud with what to keep on premises based on internal resources, costs, control, and security.

For instance, to reduce costs or to avoid having to invest in a backup system, you can move your failover system to the cloud. Or, you can choose the latest collaboration technologies to easily augment your UC suite for those departments and locations that need them.

Security is an important consideration is for organizations who require in-house control over data, such as regulated vertical markets like finance or healthcare. Depending on your security requirements, a hybrid system gives you the ability to store sensitive data on site and other non-mission-critical data on cloud servers.

Making the Right UC&C Decision

We know migrating to a new communications system can be a daunting task and that evaluating UC&C systems is not easy. As a leader in Unified Communications & Collaboration with a robust portfolio of solutions from best-in-class partners, we can guide you through what options are available and what solution will work best for you.

For more information on the differences between on-premises, cloud, and hybrid UC&C systems, including a detailed comparison chart, take a look at this UC&C whitepaper.

Learn more about our extensive UC&C services portfolio here.

We’ll work with you to implement the right consumption model for your organization. Each offers advantages that align with different business models and drivers.

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  1. Cisco-sponsored report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services
  2. Zeus Kerravala, ZK Research
  3. MZA Telecoms & IT Analysts: The World Hosted/Cloud Business Telephony Market (Nov 2018)


Cloud UCC Hybrid UCC Hybrid Workplace Managed Services Premise UCC UCC Unified Communications & Collaboration
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