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In my 10 years as a Frost & Sullivan analyst, hosted IP telephony has always been one of my most favorite coverage areas. I believe in the value of outsourcing core communications capabilities for certain types of organizations and users. I also believe that IP technologies have dramatically changed the value proposition of hosted voice as new hosted IP telephony offerings deliver a number of additional features and capabilities compared with TDM Centrex.

I have to admit, however, that, although I am gaining some insight into how cloud technologies can further elevate the value of outsourced, multi-tenant communications infrastructures, I have not yet reached an epiphany on that matter. In fact, I find the hype around “cloud”, particularly as it relates to real-time communications, somewhat exaggerated. Most people seem to think of the cloud as being synonymous with Skype and Google TO THE EXCLUSION of various other multi-tenant, IP-based architectures. They may be right, but in that case, I find the definition AND potential for business-grade cloud communications rather limited.

I am not currently equipped to provide a final distinction between cloud communications and hosted IP telephony, but I am working on a couple of studies with Vanessa Alvarez (check her out on Twitter) that aim to offer some good insights on specific advantages and disadvantages of both approaches as well as some perspective on the different market participants. In the process, I plan to post a series of blog articles on hosted and cloud communications drivers, challenges and trends.

I will follow up this post with a discussion of some economic realities that require a new approach to communications investments. In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on hosted versus premises-based as well as hosted versus cloud.

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