CDW Cloud Collaboration is a new offering from CDW that uses the power of the cloud to provide a full suite of Unified Communications services and applications for customers ranging from 200 to tens of thousands of employees.   This isn’t just providing service to an IP phone on your desk.  Utilizing Cisco’s Jabber client, Cloud Collaboration includes productivity-enhancing features like presence and instant messaging, as well as click to call and desktop video.  Also included is a single number reach feature which rings your cell phone whenever your desk phone is called.  This feature is an essential tool for staying in contact with your customers or other callers, and allows you to move calls back and forth between your desk and cell phones.  There are four different Cloud Collaboration user licenses to pick from, depending on each user’s needs.   Standard and Premium licenses also include voice messaging that delivers voicemails to your email inbox…another great way to stay productive.

This service is offered on a monthly per-user subscription model, providing the capability to expand and contract the number of users each month in order to meet the changing requirements almost all entities have.  Adding temporary employees during the holidays?  No problem.  You can easily add them to your CDW Cloud Collaboration solution for just a few months, and then remove them.   A ‘pay for what you need’ approach that makes a lot of financial sense.  Opening a new branch or acquiring another company?  CDW Cloud Collaboration can take the headache out of trying to scale a typical on-premise solution to accommodate these types of challenges.

Based on Cisco’s HCS (Hosted Collaboration Solution) architecture, Cloud Collaboration takes a somewhat different approach to providing hosted Unified Communications than most other hosted services on the market.  At the heart of this offering is the full line of market-leading Cisco UC applications such as Communications Manager, Presence, and Unity Connection messaging.  But here’s the difference:  most hosted offerings are built around a single, very large ‘PBX’ in the cloud where all customers are simply extensions off of a common, shared system.   This approach is somewhat limited in flexibility, and choices are usually picked off of a menu of what’s available.  This presents challenges…especially when customer requirements involve integration to existing PBX’s when doing phased migrations or perhaps integrations to other third party applications are needed such as call accounting, paging/notification systems, fax solutions, and even contact center databases or related applications that may already be in production in the customer’s environment.

With CDW Cloud Collaboration, a unique environment or ‘cluster’ is configured for each customer, allowing a much higher degree of customization and flexibility.  The Cisco Unified Communications applications utilized to provide this cohesive solution are running virtually in CDW’s world-class data center as a dedicated instance for each customer.   The Cisco HCS suite of management tools then oversees the entire solution, providing provisioning, adds/moves/changes, monitoring, reporting, and most importantly the customer portals that allow end-user self service, if desired.

Major software upgrades on all the applications, as well as the normal day-to-day adds/moves and changes, are included with the service at no additional cost.  This is really where hosted UC solutions shine.  By eliminating the need for an IT staff to perform the care and feeding of a typical customer-owned solution, as well as eliminating the cost of keeping the software up to date (which many times involves refreshing the hardware as well), the ROI of this approach makes a lot of sense.  Instead of CapEx, it’s OpEx.  And think of what your IT staff could do if, instead of maintaining the phone system, they were able to focus on supporting initiatives that drive the business forward, generating  incremental revenue or increasing market share.  And don’t forget you just eliminated the power, cooling and rack space costs of those telecom servers in your data center.

With all that said, hosted Unified Communications is definitely worth a closer look.  And the unique approach of CDW’s Cloud Collaboration now gives the flexibility to configure and implement enterprise-class Unified Communications in a way that fits your business.

13 thoughts on “Cloud Collaboration: Why Your Company Should Start Using It

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