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Cloud or On-Premises Unified Communications: Everything You Need to Know Before You Choose

David Perlis, COO
June 28, 2022
Cloud or On-Premises Unified Communications

Enterprise organizations often need to make difficult technology decisions. And as the tech world continues to evolve, IT teams need to stay up-to-date with best-fit solutions, especially when it comes to cloud or on-premises Unified Communications solutions.

If your IT infrastructure is at the top of the list of the many decisions you’ll make, one major conclusion is whether to implement cloud infrastructure or choose a more traditional route of on-premises (OnPrem) infrastructure solutions.

Each has pros and cons, so let’s dive into the differences between cloud and OnPrem solutions for your organization.



  • When embarking on a Unified Communications (UC) solution implementation, you’ll need to understand the differences between on-premises (OnPrem) and cloud.
  • Although cloud solutions are typically more cost-effective, OnPrem remains the better option for optimal security.
  • If your company does not have the resources to keep up with the maintenance needed for OnPrem, you may be better off with a cloud provider.
  • Although one option may be a better fit for your organization, hybrid options are available through third-party partnerships.
  • You know how important it is to implement the right Unified Communications (UC) solution for your organization.


And although you’re used to making hard, technical decisions about tech in your workplace, you simply can’t afford to get your infrastructure wrong.

This was made abundantly clear in PMI’s 2021 Global Project Management Survey, which showed that 12% percent of all projects were deemed failures by surveyed organizations. In 2018, PMI reported that 35% of the surveyed organizations that started new projects perceived them as failures. That is a lot of potential wasted time and investment in a span of three years.

Furthermore, Challenger Performance released a 10-year study in 2020 that showed 4 out of 10 would-be buyers began, and completed, at least a portion of a purchase process that never resulted in an actual purchase or decision. They chose… not to choose.
Cloud or On-Premises Unified Communications stats

It’s in your best interest to understand the full picture before choosing a UC provider.

Among the many important questions to answer before implementing a new Unified Communications solution, you’ll inevitably have to answer the big one: Should we choose an on-premises or cloud provider?

This can be a tough question to answer. After all, the last thing you want to do is drag out the process with never-ending software testing. And unfortunately, it can be even tougher to get a straight answer from vendors.

We know this process can be a major hassle. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you quickly understand both sides of the cloud vs. OnPrem debate.

So instead of ripping your hair out or Hulk-smashing your desk, let’s dive into the differences between these two solutions.


The Differences Between Cloud or On-Premises Unified Communications

Until cloud computing began in the 1960s, OnPrem solutions were the only option. Because the hardware and software were both on-premises, the software was installed on-site on its own server, behind its own firewall.

With on-premises software, everything is handled in-house. This includes the implementation of hardware to the management of software. This also means that it all needs to be maintained internally. Without third-party partners, companies are entirely responsible.

Sometimes, this may make sense for companies, but at other times, cloud infrastructure is a better option. Each has unique features when it comes to deployment, control, security, compliance, and price.



Costs are a huge consideration in the cloud vs. OnPrem debate (shocking, we know). For smaller firms and companies, cloud is usually the natural choice because of its cost-effectiveness. However, larger enterprise companies may be more able and willing to invest in an in-house IT team to manage an OnPrem infrastructure.

All costs are offloaded onto the company. This includes purchasing the hardware and software along with hiring a team to manage the infrastructure on-site.Cloud is typically a more cost-effective option. Companies must usually pay an ongoing subscription fee, but all maintenance is handled by the cloud service provider.



When deploying an OnPrem solution, the company is completely responsible for the deployment process, its IT Infrastructure, and ongoing maintenance.While there are different types of cloud computing, like a public cloud (think Google Drive), private cloud, or hybrid cloud, the servers are typically maintained by the cloud service providers, and companies are given 24-hour access.



OnPrem solutions allow companies complete control. This is often why larger organizations decide to implement on-premises. They also have 100% privacy, which is appealing for companies seeking stronger security measures.While enterprises have access to their data with cloud service providers, there is shared ownership. If there is any downtime, your company and users will be impacted.



While OnPrem might be the best option for optimal security, it takes a lot of work to implement a secure environment. This is especially true with sensitive data like customer information and employee details. It’s important to get this right – any missteps during implementation could leave you vulnerable to threats or a breach. The now infamous 2021 Colonial Pipeline breach underscores just how vulnerable organizations are to even the most basic attacks.Cloud service providers typically have redundancies in place to avoid critical issues or disasters from occurring. That’s why the cloud can be a suitable option for less complex data security needs.



There are many governmental acts and laws companies need to comply with. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a notable one for private health records. Companies that do not comply with HIPAA can face hefty financial and reputational consequences. Another is Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act for E-911 compliance. As a result, organizations that opt for OnPrem infrastructure will have to comply with the different regulations and requirements on their own.While many cloud computing software providers offer compliance support, it is still the company’s responsibility to understand the regulatory mandates needed for their industry and ensure the service provider they choose can comply with those measures.



OnPrem solutions continue to be viable options today because of the control, connectivity, and freedom they offer. They provide great options for workplaces seeking tighter security and that need in-house IT teams.There are good reasons why cloud solutions are everywhere these days. A big plus is the ability to easily integrate with cloud-based UC systems. Accessibility, affordability, and deployment are among the biggest pros of cloud computing, with its being deployed in a matter of hours, as opposed to OnPrem which takes intense planning and building before deployment.



Implementing OnPrem could come with a hefty price tag and may not pay for itself over time. If your company is looking to trim the budget for this project, the costs can also be a con.

Maintenance is another major setback for OnPrem solutions. Not having the resources to securely maintain your infrastructure can be detrimental to your organization’s success.

Customization can be challenging for cloud solutions, which may affect compliance and control. Be sure to ask your cloud provider how you’ll maintain control of your data and if they’re able to meet the compliance requirements of your industry.


Hybrid Models

While the debate between OnPrem and cloud solutions continues among enterprise companies, another option exists: the hybrid model. By using a combination of public and private cloud computing along with OnPrem, companies can have the best of both worlds. This model typically requires third-party partnerships for deployment and/or maintenance, but it is possible.


Final Thoughts

By weighing the above pros and cons and carefully considering your organization’s business goals, you can feel confident choosing the right UC solution for your organization.

No matter your chosen infrastructure, ZIRO can eliminate the hassle with no-nonsense managed services and easy-to-use provisioning software.

If you’re looking for a UC solution that’s cloud-based, OnPrem, or hybrid, we can help. Contact us today or call +1-844-940-1600.

Ready to take your unified communications from headache to hassle-free?

No throwing darts at proposals or contracts. No battling through the back-end. No nonsense, no run-around.