The market is so abuzz with discussion of cloud services it can be difficult to know what will benefit businesses both today and moving forward. However, cloud services are becoming widely adopted by businesses for reasons such as:
- System scalability
- Low barrier of entry financially
- Constantly upgraded feature sets
- Ease of system management
- Location independence
One tested-and-true service that companies are finding gives them immediate benefits is in cloud communications.
Cloud communications is Internetbased voice and data communications hosted by a third party. While for years the hosting model has focused on data, IP-based voice technologies (VoIP) bring those cloud benefits to the world of telephony as well.
The model eliminates up-front capital cost and means less money and resources must be dedicated to managing leased on-premise equipment. In fact, cloud-based communications can be a particular boon to companies on a growth path. While an on premise telephone system could be purchased, a smaller company would then need to project out and purchase equipment ready to meet its expected future needs, or end up forklifting systems regularly. With a cloud communications infrastructure, business pay for only the lines and features required today, and future growth is easy and incremental.
Far from the fears that people once had around its reliability, VoIP brings added reliability to phone service, as well as rich features that might be otherwise unavailable or unaffordable, such as working from anywhere and still appearing as if you are in your office, receiving voicemail to your email inbox, and local calling among your offices.
Reliability is improved because a true business-class VoIP service has private lines to and from the office, managed traffic and guaranteed quality of service. It uses Internet Protocol, but connects directly, through the service provider, to the POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) network, with the Internet being used only as a fallback. The option of actually running business phone service "over" the Internet, as offered by some service providers, can compromise the sound quality and connection expected for business use. This is not what an SMB needs when it wants to appear big, successful and professional. For this reason, it's also important to select a service provider that offers not only the security of dedicated private network connections, but the end-to-end cloud services. In fact, using VoIP and number portability, businesses can use the cloud to set up phone services and the appearance of virtual local offices in areas where they have no physical shop.
Looking further at a business' disaster recovery plan, when a traditional on-premise telephone system goes down or the power goes out in an office, business typically comes to a grind; however, with a cloud communications service, calls can be rerouted to a cell phone or a number of choices. Employees can continue to take customer and vendor calls regardless of their "backup" location, all the while appearing as if still on the office phone system.
Although it may seem that on-premise equipment is a one-time charge, many companies forget that the total cost of ownership includes monthly maintenance charges, the cost of lines, and in many cases the cost of making regular changes. All of these items are included in the very competitive monthly cost of a cloud communications service.
What's most important, though, isn't simply cost. Almost every business has a degree of unpredictability. On-premise systems can easily over time fail to support a company's evolving needs and become obsolete. On the flipside, services delivered over the cloud are scalable, reliable and can be continuously upgraded. For instance, just as business needs have changed dramatically over the last five years, so too has the Primus cloud communications architecture and service changed to match them.
Vice-President of Sales and Marketing
Primus Telecommunications Canada
This advertorial originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Backbone Magazine.