UCaaS vs. On-Premises: What Works Best for Modern Businesses?

September 8, 2021

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Modern businesses require a more robust solution for communications and collaboration than just a phone system. That’s why many adopted unified communications platforms. However, not every solution is the same. Some are cloud-based, while others are on-site. In comparing unified communications as a service (UCaaS) vs. on-premises, there are many differences relating to functionality and accessibility.

In this post, we’ll provide you with pertinent information about both options so you can make the best decisions for your company that will support you now and in the future.

What Is UCaaS?

UCaaS describes a platform with multiple tools for communication and collaboration, and those applications reside in the cloud. As a result, they provide the same user experience and access for your team no matter where they are.

The common solutions you’ll find in UCaaS include:

  • Cloud-based phone systems
  • Video conferencing
  • Chat
  • File management
  • Email
  • Screen sharing

Integration across all capabilities exists in one hub, delivering a host of benefits around productivity and efficiency. In addition, it’s a convenient and robust solution that allows your employees to work from wherever.

What Is On-Premises?

The second option for unified communications is on-premises. In this application, you host the software at your site. You are then responsible for building the infrastructure as well as monitoring and maintaining it.

In this model, your communications solution is a capital expense versus an operating cost. You’ll also have to self-manage the hardware. In most cases, access to the software is only available on-site.

UCaaS vs. On-Premises: Pros and Cons

To formally compare UCaaS vs. on-premises, you’ll need to dive deep into the features as well as how each setup works in terms of providing your employees with what they need to do their job well. Here’s how they compare.


UCaaS, as noted, is cloud-based. You will incur no costs regarding hardware like servers. You’ll pay a monthly subscription cost based on the number of users and features you choose. This is attractive because the investment is minimum upfront, and it’s a number you can budget for without surprises.

On-premises requires an initial capital expenditure for the hardware, which you can depreciate. Your costs will vary month to month based on the maintenance of servers.


With on-premises unified communications, you own the system, so you have complete control over configurations. This might be appealing to some, but it requires expert professionals to be on your IT payroll. You’ll also be responsible for all software updates and hardware upgrades.

UCaaS is an application that a provider owns and maintains. They are the host and are responsible for the system’s upgrades, which means you’ll always have the newest version. While you don’t “own” the product, you still have a level of control with an admin panel. With this, you can set up users, define features for each individual, and view other important details.


Considering the massive shift to remote work, many companies migrated from on-premises to UCaaS in the last few years. Since most businesses fall into this category, it makes a case for UCaaS because all users need to do is log in to use the features. They can use it on desktop or their smartphones.

On-premises has limitations on access. You have to be physically in the location. You may be able to forward calls, but that’s about it. Unless your staff only needs to use solutions while in the office, you’ll likely find this option isn’t sustainable.


On-premises systems are much less flexible than UCaaS when it comes to scalability. Under on-premises, adding new users can be complex and require lots of effort. If you need to ramp up fast, you’ll find roadblocks here because you must account for more users in your hardware and infrastructure.

Conversely, scaling with UCaaS is simple. It’s an agile option, and admins can add users in minutes. Since everything lives in the cloud and your provider is the host, it’s an easy endeavor.

Business Continuity and Reliability

The most important feature of any communications system is that it works when you need it. Should a disaster occur, an on-premises phone system will likely go down with no recovery option. This means your business will stop running, and you’ll be scrambling to find alternatives. Such an occurrence will not be a cheap one.

UCaaS is waiting for you in the cloud. Your team will still have access to all the tools and information in your system. Overall, UCaaS is much more reliable, and the call quality is better. That’s because poor server performance or reliance on legacy infrastructure can quickly degrade it.


In most expert IT opinions, they’ll agree that the cloud is safer than on-premises. Providers that offer UCaaS will likely have sophisticated cybersecurity parameters, including encryption of data, enterprise-grade firewalls, multiple intrusion protect systems, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection. Further, their cloud will sit in a physical data center with robust physical security.

With on-premises, security is up to you because it’s your network. Your IT team may be well-versed in security measures and put many into place. However, they can’t match the rigorous criteria from a UCaaS provider.

UCaaS vs. On-Premises: The Choice Is Clear for Modern Businesses

If flexibility, lower costs, greater security, and accessibility are a priority for you, migrating to UCaaS is a smart move. It’s a future-proof choice that will empower your employees and allow them to be more productive. You can get started by checking out Intermedia Unite, the UCaaS solution that supports thousands of SMBs every day.

Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Sr Marketing Communications Manager at Intermedia

September 8, 2021

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