Lots of businesses are moving to cloud-based phone systems – but this doesn’t necessarily mean that cloud-hosting is the best choice for your organisation. Many providers push cloud-based options without detailing the other systems out there, and proprietary PBX hosting still comes with a range of great features, including versatility, flexibility and lower long-term costs.
Before we get into the considerations you need to make before choosing to go with a cloud-based system, let’s recap your IP phone system options:
Cloud-Based System or Cloud Hosting
With a cloud-based phone system, a third-party provider handles your phone system for a monthly fee – this means they are in charge of running, upgrading and maintaining the system. Cloud-based systems are located in the cloud and accessed through your internet connection. This means you have no physical PBX unit on your premises, and the only actual hardware is the handsets and your internet modem-router. Cloud-based systems are paid for on an ongoing monthly basis.
On-Premise IP PBX System
An on-premise IP PBX is similar to traditional phone systems that reside at business premises. The main difference is that VoIP line routing is done with inbuilt IP technology. With an on-premise system, you don’t have to rely on a third-party provider for your services and maintenance. Although the up-front cost may be a little higher than that associated with cloud-based systems, lower ongoing costs can be expected as there are no monthly fees charged by an outside provider. For example, with many VoIP providers, you can have lines for as little as $9.95 per month including local & STD calls and if you consider a typical 4 line phone system could then cost as little as $39.8 all up including local & STD calls.
Hosted IP PBX System
With a hosted IP PBX system, your PBX is located in a secure data centre rather than at your business premise. This means the system maintenance, expansion and upgrades are usually the responsibility of the business, although this is negotiable with the provider. Hosted PBX systems have a small set up cost and a nominal monthly subscription fee.
Considerations to Make Before Switching to a Cloud-Based System
Although cloud-based systems come with certain benefits, including flexibility, scalability, portability, potential cost savings and worldwide reach, there are also disadvantages that should be considered.
Cloud-based systems are 100% internet based, and this means call quality is dependent on your connection. This means that unstable internet connections or disruptions will impact your calls, and this can negatively affect your internal and external business operations. Also, if there is a widespread internet outage (unlikely but possible), you will not be able to use your phone system.
Anything that is internet-based is vulnerable to cyber threats. To mitigate this risks, you want to ensure that your provider has a comprehensive protection for the three levels of security, including:
- Physical and Network Security
- SIP Endpoint Security (the security of your phones and devices)
- Toll Fraud Monitoring & Detection
Upgrading your phone system to a cloud-based subscription will likely require you to purchase new phone equipment and possibly new internet routers. Also, although some cloud-based plans offer unlimited calling plans, others charge a flat rate, and this means companies can be shocked after receiving their first bills.
Some cloud-based phone system providers require lock-in periods (similar to mobile phone contracts), which means you could be forced to stick with the system even if you are unhappy with the service.
Want to Switch to a Cloud-Based Provider?
If you decide to go with a cloud-based solution, we strongly recommend that you opt for a small, independent company like Maxo or ECN. You need a robust and flexible phone system, and it is crucial that you evaluate the various providers out there and find the best fit for your needs.