Should You Consider Cloud for VOIP?
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VOIP In The Cloud – Upfront And Maintenance CostsI don’t like to lead with VOIP costs, but MSPs know that this is going to be one of the first questions they’ll have to answer. It’s also one of the features cloud phone solutions tout the most aggressively. To keep things simple I’ll break down costs into two categories: Upfront costs, as you might expect for a cloud product, are lower with a hosted solution. If you’re already running phones and devices that support SIP, you can use that same hardware with a hosted phone provider. It’s also easy and inexpensive to add new employees to the service because software phones can be used in place of more costly physical phones. Software, patches and support are built into the monthly costs and new features can be added or removed without much hassle. But the biggest savings usually come from the fact you won’t need to purchase servers, software licenses and interface cards required to run your on-premise solution since connections are made to those devices over the internet. Maintenance costs can vary greatly depending on the size of your installation, but are typically lower for an on-premise solution once your install base reaches a certain threshold. Hosted solutions tend to be attractive to businesses with 50 or fewer employees because they don’t have the IT staff in house to manage the installation and ongoing support. For many larger installations an on-premise solution might be a better option, although I’m seeing many companies with more than 100 employees move to hosted solutions because it frees their IT department to focus on more immediate and pressing matters. Digium provides a nifty ROI calculator you can use in planning. They offer both onsite and hosted products. From everything I’ve come across, if you have fewer than 50 users, a hosted solution should be your first consideration.
Features For VOIP Need To Be Preserved In The CloudYour phone system must work within the business model your company has adopted. I once worked at a company where all incoming sales calls were answered by a sales consultant. As calls increased, so did the pool of sales consultants. And then a manager came up with the idea that routing every sales call through a voicemail system would cut down on the number of new sales consultant hires. You can probably imagine what happened next. Calls slowed and sales dropped off a cliff. Nobody wanted to wait for a call back before placing an order. I once had a manager who told me that a customer with an open wallet or one with a credit card in hand should never wait more than a few seconds before being helped.
The popular Cisco SPA 303 is a business-class IP phoneIf your company relies on advanced features such as queues, SIP trunking or video conferencing, you’ll want to make sure that moving to a cloud solution has those same features. The best cloud services allow the administrator to add or remove advanced features with a few clicks. Many businesses still rely on sending and receiving faxes, especially in the financial sector so make sure every feature is included with the new system before signing on the dotted line.