Which Skype for Business deployment type is right for public sector organisations?
Public sector organisations have a clear mandate to save money, drive business efficiency and engage more with citizens. The best way to do both is to unify your communication channels into a single, easy to use interface.
Skype for Business combines chat, presence, meetings, video, internal and external telephony in one. This means you can get rid of all of those point solutions such as your telephone system, AV deployment, audio and web conferencing solution and consumer based chat tool.
Consolidation alone can pay for itself quickly. Removing the complication of multiple, hard to use tools and adding features such as rich presence and real-time collaboration make employees more productive. Doing both could mean that you actually make money on your investment.
Now that you’ve chosen Skype for Business as your Unified Communications (UC) solution, you now need to decide which deployment type suits your organisation best.
The first choice you have to make is whether you want to host it internally on your own infrastructure or consume it as a service, hosted by a 3rd party.
On-premises - If you’ve already made a big investment in resilient server infrastructure and all of your other applications are hosted internally, you’ll probably choose to deploy on-premises.
Cloud - If you’re already starting to move other applications to the cloud, such as moving Exchange Server or Sharepoint to Office 365, you’re probably open to using Skype for Business from the Cloud. Cloud deployments are supported by the provider of the service which means you can focus on what you do best.
What about Hybrid?
There’s a third choice which is a combination of the two. A Hybrid deployment has a few use cases.
Cloud provider can’t offer the full range of services in every country your organisation operates in, it is possible to augment the service by deploying some infrastructure on-premises and in those regions to fill the gap.
Controlled Migration – Public sector organisations tend to have complex infrastructure spread across multiple sites and with many hundreds or thousands of users. Migrating large, complex infrastructure usually requires a period of coexistence with users on both platforms. Deploying on-premises infrastructure can facilitate this coexistence between the PBXs and the hosted service.
3rd party integration – It is not always possible to directly integrate 3rd party applications or systems with Cloud based services. For these situations it is necessary to deploy some infrastructure on-premises to integrate into these applications or systems and then integrate the on-premises infrastructure with the Cloud service.
On-premises Dependencies – One of the last steps in migrating a telephony service is to move the numbers that feed into the system. If you have months or even years left on your line contract that prevent you from porting numbers, you could use on-premises infrastructure to use these lines to deliver on-premises calling capability to users in the Cloud.
If you’ve already invested in internal infrastructure and you have the capacity to host the required servers with a level of resilience that meets or exceeds your expectations, then an on-premises deployment makes perfect sense.
If, on the other hand, you’re faced with the decision of a hardware refresh to add more capacity or you’re already starting to move services to the cloud, then a cloud hosted model is probably for you.
If you have a large and complex infrastructure that can’t be migrated overnight or you require additional services or integrations which can’t be delivered solely from the Cloud, you’ll want to set it up as a hybrid. A hybrid doesn’t have to be permanent. It is often only necessary until a complete migration is possible.
In any case, you’ll definitely want to work with an expert partner that understands the specific needs of the public sector and help with everything from user adoption and training, set-up and configuration, user and service migration to business as usual. Working with a partner will help ensure a successful migration to unified communications.