In any discussion about phone systems, there are always those points that seem to crop up again and again, aren’t there? If your office is anything like mine, odds are that one of those points is the old cloud based versus on-premise system debate.
That’s one that won’t ever go away, will it? Not until everything is finally hosted in the cloud — or behind our ears, whichever comes first.
Theoretically speaking, the choice should be pretty easy. Look at the size of your enterprise, examine your usage requirements, scrutinize your security concerns, and once you distill all that information, you should have a relatively easy answer.
But what do you do if both of the options deliver nearly identical features? What if the answers you get are practically functionally identical, for all intents and purposes?
If both columns of the balance sheet are nearly equal, but you still feel it’s time to upgrade your phone system, then maybe you should consider a staged, or hybrid approach.
For instance, consider the hospitality vertical market. A hotel — or chain — wanting to upgrade their aging PSTN networks can install VoIP trunks to one or more of the sites in their network. They could keep the older systems active at the other sites, while enjoying the incredible savings that VoIP offers on regular recurring charges and operating costs on the upgraded sites. Then when they have the capital to upgrade the other sites, it’s easy to do.
A different option, again with the hospitality vertical, might be to replace only the voice mail system with one that also can handle automated attendant duties as well as wake-up call functions. The existing in-house PBX could still be used to process phone calls as usual. What this would do would be to place these crucial functions on an IP network so that they can be better monitored and administered. Not only that, when it comes time for the old PBX to be replaced with a VoIP switch, it’ll be an easier migration for everyone.
Hosted IP systems also work well when there are multiple sites being served by the same pool of SIP trunks or VoIP services. Any company that has more than one location would be able to pool their trunks and resources, since VoIP allows for shared minutes and data usage. This has the benefit of reducing recurring monthly charges, potentially by up to 60%.
One more option would be to leverage all the bandwidth that an enterprise needs and supply telephony using the same circuits that currently carry such data as corporate email accounts and PMS. This would also yield some standardization among the disparate sites, making it easier for employees to move from one to another. This consistency would take the form of dialing patterns, phone feature sets, and other such things.
Just keep in mind that if you are going to make a switch from one PBX manufacturer to another, or from an on-premises solution to a cloud-based one, it’s likely that you’ll have to replace all of your digital or proprietary phones. And it’s also likely that you’ll have to eat this cost. There is a hidden advantage, though, in that the new systems should work with any SIP-compliant phones. This gives a hotel, or any other vertical market, many options they can choose from. They won’t have to choose from simply the existing proprietary PBX phones.
Another thing to be well aware of, especially if you are in the hospitality vertical, is to ensure that the hosted PBX application is capable of lighting the message waiting lamps in your guestrooms. Surprisingly enough, some of them are incapable, and I’ve found out the hard way.
About The Author
Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.
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