The communications industry is loaded with TLAs (three letter acronyms), FLAs (four letter acronyms) and a variety of “buzz” words. The most popular “buzz” words today in technology and telecom (are the technology and telecom worlds really different?) are “cloud” and “hosted”, which mean different things to different businesses. Many professionals associate these terms with popular data center solutions: such as “hosted” servers, “cloud” storage, etc., but where else are these terms utilized?
Let’s take a moment to explore “hosted” and “cloud” as it relates to telecom solutions and what the features and benefits are for certain businesses. To be clear, these are not “one-size, fits all” solutions for everyone (on premise systems are still viable options as well).
What do “hosted” / “cloud” solutions look like?
- For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on “hosted” telecom systems. “Hosted” (sometimes referred to as “public cloud”) solutions are installed in highly available, redundant data centers which provide reliable environments. Simple deployments for single site businesses requiring basic features can be installed in a “shared” environment, where many of these businesses utilize a single (virtual) server instance, keeping costs lower. Those businesses which require multi-site deployments and/or call center functionality may require a private, “dedicated” (virtual) server environment.
- Similar to data center solutions, businesses can also install their telecom solutions in a “private cloud” environment, where they buy all the equipment and “host” their own multi-site, “cloud” system.
What makes these solutions a good option?
- “Big” system features (such as mobile extensions, desktop call control applications, voice mail and email integration, etc.) that were once only accessible to larger organizations are now affordable to the enterprise and SMB markets.
- Businesses need not be concerned about the upkeep of system software versions, server upgrades and application upgrades; these items become the responsibility of the provider.
- In some cases, the provider will include managed services for customer needed changes and maintenance to their environment.
- The solutions are provided in short-term contracts, so as technology changes, businesses can be nimble and competitive.
- From financial perspective, telephone systems are now Operational Expenses (OpEx) instead of Capital Expenditures (CapEx).
What other considerations are there?
- In many cases phone calls are delivered on SIP trunks via an internet circuit. “Traditional” phone lines can be utilized, however a device may need to be purchased for conversion.
- A business grade internet circuit with appropriate bandwidth is required. The biggest mistake incurred by many businesses looking to purely cut costs is to buy the “cheapest” solution and install it on an inferior internet connection. A VoIP readiness test is available and should be run prior to installation to ensure call quality. Otherwise, phone calls will sound “choppy” and potentially disconnect.
- Compatible VoIP phones need to be purchased as part of the upfront costs.
- The internal local area network (LAN) needs to support VoIP which in many cases means virtual local area network (VLAN) capability and Quality of Service (QoS). Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) is a plus so that each phone would not require an optional power supply.
How are the solutions priced?
- It is believed that moving to a “hosted” solution will result in lower costs. Sometimes that is the case, but not always. The most reliable solutions are deployed on private (virtual) servers which incur additional costs for these dedicated environments.
There are monthly costs for servers and server licensing (whether “shared” or “dedicated”), per user license costs and SIP trunk costs (with usage). There are additional nominal costs for direct phone numbers, toll free numbers, directory listings, etc.
neteffect technologies can assist you in weighing your telecom options factoring in your budget and providing an unbiased needs assessment because we act as technology agnostic consultants. Whether you need on-premise and/or “hosted” / “cloud” solutions from multiple vendors, we’ll match your requirement to the appropriate solution.