Thoughts On Cloud Security

Cloud SecurityThink the Cloud is Not Secure? Well, Think Again

Security on the cloud is the most debatable subject and over the last few years some of the myths related to cloud security have been busted. Well, the cloud has been the centre of attraction for hackers, data addicts and spies because of the volume of data they can access. For the hackers, data on the cloud is nothing short of a treasure trove and they would love to go for data pilferage by breaking into various networks across the world.

Data Privacy

There are naysayers as well as staunch supporters of cloud telephony who have their own valid reasons for trashing or supporting the use of cloud telephony systems by organizations. The biggest argument against the use of cloud telephony is the lack of data privacy that hounds even the biggest providers like Google. Even the big cloud service providers like Google are incapable if the government pushes for divulging information about a particular individual or user. On the other hand the supporters point to the latest security intelligence as well as analytics used by the companies to prevent all types of data breaches. There are many who believe that cloud is as safe or vulnerable as any other data centre used by enterprises.

Growing Market

The cloud computing market is growing with every passing day and if a recent survey is to be believed then cloud is going to generate $180 billion revenue by the end of 2015. Now, CIOs of major companies across the world are moving to cloud because they do not want to unnecessarily incur communication expenses. Moving to the cloud is saving thousands of dollars for these companies.

Cloud is considered to be the most efficient and cost-effective location for storing data and it is also by far the biggest data repository that can be used for data analytics and computing.You will be able to integrate various applications like inventory management, CRM, transactional data and social media. However, the biggest deterrent for most of the businesses is the security risk associated with moving critical business data to the cloud. Data security for the cloud is completely dependent on the security measures taken by cloud service providers.

Security Breaches

There have been a total of 21 million cases of data security breaches all over the world in the last 5 years. However, it has been seen that in majority of the cases the data breaches have been because of the human errors and people who purposefully broke into the system with criminal intent. The most surprising fact is that the in-house data too is not safer and companies even spend too less on data security.

Cloud Providers Capabilities

The cloud service providing companies are well equipped to handle various types of data security threats because they spend huge amount of money to just develop and maintain a watertight system. These service providers make huge investments on third party encryptions and data certification. Cloud service providers take every possible measure to create and maintain a system that is much tougher to intrude than the in-house network. Cloud is safe and it offers several advantages, which can never be matched by any other technology.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

Trim Your Telecom Costs with SIP Trunking

SIP TrunkingCompanies reeling under the pressure of huge telephone bills do not realize that there is help in the form of a telecommunication technology – SIP Trunking. In order to survive in the competitive market, companies need to not only have a robust telephone system and data lines but they also have to cater to the unique needs of its mobile workforces. The old communication systems have become obsolete and now people are using VoIP, which can be made even more efficient with the help of SIP.

SIP Trunking is popular for its amazing QoS (Quality of Service) and it is a very powerful technology that is both highly scalable and flexible. SIP enables companies to streamline enterprise communication while cutting down the costs as well as resources. SIP or Session Initiation Protocol is the technology that helps to establish SIP Trunk Lines that facilitates concurrent calls to the PSTN line. The trunk lines are similar to the lines that come from the channels or telephone company to the T1 circuit. With the help of this technology, the phone lines connected to the desk do not ring, instead whenever the calls come in, it is your mobile phone or the computer where the ring is heard.

There are many reasons for changing your business communication system from ISDN to SIP Trunking. SIP trunking is a very robust technology and helps a company save a lot of money – even more than the ISDN. Since this telephony service is IP based, it comes with a lot of other advanced features and benefits that can take care of a variety of business issues. The productivity of your company will receive a huge boost as SIP will solve your communication issues at an amazing pace.

The top 5 benefits of using SIP Trunks are as follows:

  1. SIP offers infinite scalability – SIP is all about saving money because SIP offers unparalleled scalability thereby helping you to cut on capital expenditures. You can start with a small set up and scale without any hassles thus helping you to manage the communication load without any difficulty.
  2. SIP offers 40% more savings than ISDN or any other system – Market research has revealed that on an average, companies using SIP trunking are able to save 30% to 60%. Since SIP uses the existing IP infrastructure or PBX equipment, you will need only a few additional pieces of equipment to get started with SIP. The cost savings start from the time of the installation itself. All your long distance or overseas calls will be treated as local calls and you will be able to realize huge savings on your telephone bills.
  3. No calls will ever remain unattended – In case the calls to a desk phone don’t get answered, they will automatically get redirected to the mobile phones. Thus, employees who are not present at their desks or are working remotely will be able to receive the calls from wherever they are. You will never have to lose a customer because the calls get answered even when the office is closed. All the incoming calls will be programmed to get redirected to another extension or mobile phone or even routed to other trunk groups with different phone numbers or locations.
  4. Efficient communication – All your employees will be able to experience the benefits and features that come along with SIP. Instant messaging, voice calls, video conferencing and call recording are some of the features that will help in enhancing communication among the employees and customers.
  5. Quick ROI – You will be able to recover your investment within a short span of time as you will not be required to pay for any additional equipments or services that you don’t need. SIP helps you to maximize the existing internet bandwidth by adding voice to the existing traffic, which in turn saves a lot of money.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

UCedge, Unified Communications Solutions from Toshiba.

UCedge, Unified Communication

If you are used to Unified Communication applications, you would understand it needs a bit more resources than just a telephone end device. In order to use all the capabilities of UC, you would need to manage files, multiple applications, and maybe even videos. Till now this meant being tied to your desk.

Now, when you are using Toshiba’s on-premise or cloud based phone systems, you are no longer tied to your desk. With a common user interface across platforms, you can access all your unified communication applications from a tablet, a laptop, or even your smart phone. UCedge application is available on Windows, iOS, and Android, making it literally universal.

More details on UCedge and it utility are available here.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

 

Comparing Premises-based and Cloud Phone Systems

Premise vs Cloud

The decision to choose between premise-based and cloud phone systems can turn out to be really challenging because it can have long term impact on your business communication. While opting for VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol, you will have to analyze and choose the system that best meets your business needs.

A premises-based solution is one where the hardware and other equipment are installed and maintained at your office site. On the other hand, if you opt for a cloud phone system, the phones in your office will be connected using the Internet to the provider that operates and maintains all the telephony equipment and cloud data center. You need to make an informed choice and in order to do that you will have to make yourself aware of the benefits as well as the challenges associated with both the systems.

Here is a brief comparison of both the systems:

Comparison of the Features

Many hosted or cloud telephone systems may not offer all the features that you would find in a premise-based system. In case a cloud telephone solution does not offer critical features like IVRs, queues and conferencing or charge additionally for these, then it is not wise to opt for such a solution. However, having said all that, there are several cloud telephone solutions that encompass all the necessary communication features that an organization would require. Cloud telephone solutions offer a wide range of features that can make business communication really attractive.

Upfront Cost

The cloud-based or hosted solutions come with low upfront cost and you will have to pay only a nominal monthly fee based on your usage. However, when you opt for a premise-based solution then the upfront costs are high as you will have to buy all the necessary equipment like servers, which are pretty expensive. However, you will benefit in the long run as the server and other equipment costs can prove to be a worthy investment. In case you are operating a small business with a handful of employees (5 to 15) then paying the monthly usage fee is more justified. There are also bigger organizations that opt for the cloud based VoIP because of the advanced telephony features they get.

TCO or Total Cost of Ownership

The TCO for a cloud based system is quite low because your hosting provider will take care of the server configuration as well as maintenance. You will be making big savings because you will never have to buy the hardware equipment or hire a dedicated team to maintain the server and related systems. This is a big advantage you get when you opt for the cloud telephony over a premise-based solution.

Existing Infrastructure

If you are using legacy systems like TDM to connect to the PSTN network then it can be taxing on the company’s pocket. At the same time, upgrading your technology infrastructure for using VoIP can be an expensive move too. However, when you switch to the hosted PBX then you can realize substantial savings. In case you want an idea about the amount of money you can save by moving to the cloud then you can consult with One Call Communications and we will analyze and give you the exact figures. For using your old PSTN system, it is best to opt for a premise-based solution.

Scalability

For the businesses on the path of growth, scalability is an important factor to consider while making a switch to hosted or premise-based solutions. For the premise-based solution, you will have to invest a lot of money for expanding your business communication system. However, scalability is much easier and less-expensive when you opt for the cloud telephony. You will need to just pay more as you grow or keep adding users to your communication system.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

Mobile VoIP is Becoming Popular. Is Corporate Demand a Reason?

Even a decade back our lives were different because we knew that the phone on our hands was made for making and receiving calls. However, there have been numerous changes over the past few years and now we can even see the audacity of launching a space rocket with a tap on our smartphones (well almost). First it was the Blackberry that allowed users to avail their corporate network and then came a deluge of other phones with a variety of other business features that we only remember seeing in James Bond movies. Today, mobile telephony has acquired a new meaning as it is being powered by the latest VoIP technology.

The Popularity of Mobility

Mobile VoIP is becoming popular and there are experts who believe that the sudden spike in demand is the direct result of a corporate demand for hosted PBX. Companies are fast switching to the latest Hosted VoIP telephony systems that are loaded with a lot of advanced telephony features. Mobile VoIP is the latest addition to hosted PBX as the companies are now trying to extend their enterprise communication system to employees irrespective of their location.

BOYD

Companies are fast adopting Bring your Own Device (BYOD) policies that rests the choice of communication device with the employees. Employees are able to choose the device they want to work with. Thus, smartphones and tablets are being introduced that the employees can use to connect to the centralized communication system in their office. The demand for the hosted PBX system is on the rise and this is propelling the sudden rise in Mobile VoIP.

Mobility facilitates better communication. With the help of smartphones and tablets, we are able to do much more work than what we would have done on our office PC. Majority of our work could be managed with the help of these smart devices that can be integrated with the centralized communication and data system. Mobile VoIP is thus getting a lot of attention. We are not only able to make or receive calls, we also are able to carry out other important tasks.

Integration of Communication Systems

Business applications are now being integrated with the enterprise communication system. Thus, VoIP network is now being connected to applications that can be accessed from a variety of endpoint devices. Mobile VoIP enables access to the business applications, irrespective of the user’s location and time. Hosted VoIP systems have witnessed 13% growth in this fiscal year and business organizations are hoping for a much higher growth rate in the coming days. The hosted telephony is certainly fuelling the rise in the demand for Mobile VoIP.

Mobile VoIP is being powered by various other applications that are to be used for making video calls. Viber, Skype and other applications are letting users access corporate communication with ease.

Professionals and executives will be in sync with the corporate solutions if everything is leveraged through the hosted options. There is a steady rise in the demand for Mobile VoIP and we certainly are aware of the force that is propelling it to newer heights.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

Cloud Telephony For Hassle Free Business Communication

Cloud telephony has passed the phase of being just a new technology entrant in the market – it is now being actively used by millions of companies around the world for business communication. The reason behind the huge popularity of this new communication technology has to be attributed to the penetration of the Internet and advancement in the field of cloud computing. Use of Internet around the world has seen an immense growth over the past decade and companies that adopted the latest VoIP technology found it to be a natural progression to opt for cloud telephony. Initially, the on-premise VoIP communication was the first choice but with the introduction of Cloud telephony, businesses preferred the latter one. There are several reasons behind the choice and some of the most obvious are listed below:

  • Reduced Cost – Telephone bills footed by the companies used to be huge for the users of PSTN telephone systems but migrating to cloud telephony reduces the costs by quite a bit. Since cloud telephony needs nothing more than an Internet connection to operate, the hardware costs of a company are automatically reduced. Business owners can opt for packages that suit their budget so there is no overspending. The call costs can be limited in a cloud telephony system, which provides an added control tool that can be used to managing telecom costs. Most of the calls are treated as local calls, so the call charges too are nominal.
  • Simple and Flexible – Cloud telephony is probably the easiest telecom technology that users can use. New users can easily start using the system without too many hassles. The installation and maintenance is pretty simple and cost effective, so business owners prefer this solution over the others.
  • Secure and Scalable – Cloud telephony is highly secure as all the voice and data communication are encrypted by the system before transmitting them over a secure network. The receiving end decrypts the data packets and this is all done in the most secure manner. Cloud telephony is unmatchable when it comes to scalability. Companies that have small number of users can scale up by subscribing to larger packages whenever they need it. It is highly flexible and subscribers can upgrade or downgrade from the chosen package at will. You can also change your subscriptions in terms of features available to particular users.
  • Easy Installation – Unlike other telephone systems, cloud Based VoIP systems are really easy to install. Even if a company has an existing set up, cloud telephone systems can still be integrated without any hiccups. The web interface provided to the users is easy to navigate and even a layman can operate the system.
  • 24X7 access from anywhere – Users will never find any problem in accessing the centralized system from anywhere in the world. The secured network connection works over the web, so irrespective of the user’s location, they can log in to the centralized communication system. Regular work will never be hampered even if the employee is not present at his desk. PSTN telephone systems can never be accessed outside the office but with cloud telephone systems, the users can access the systems while they are just about anywhere.

With the integration of various mobile endpoint devices, users of cloud telephone can even use their tablets and smartphones to log in to the system and communicate. They will be able to remain updated about the latest happenings in the business as well as respond to calls, emails, and voice mails.

Cloud telephony is all about providing the perfect communication edge to a modern day company. Success of a business depends on the choice of their communication tool, and cloud telephony can really play an important role.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voice mail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

DIY VoIP

With the increasing competition in business, it is important to pay heed to costs and take a step forward to save money. This is an important priority for building a successful business.

Communicating with prospects, customers, business partners, and employees in a professional manner brings success to business. A professional business telephone system should allow your customers to contact the correct department or person in your company with ease. For this purpose, telephone system is a key tool without which communication is next to impossible. As a result, a major costs incurred is your business phone system. Replacing the traditional PSTN telephone system with IP business telephones can really boost up your business communication. IP business phones offer various advantages and facilities that too at a lower cost compared to using PSTN lines. IP business telephones are ideal for small business.

Choosing A Service Provider

Usually a small business obtains VoIP service by selecting a provider such as Vonage, Packet8, or Lingo and sign up for a plan. A setup fee is to be paid and, in return, the service provider sends the hardware which is to be plugged in and start the phone system. It might also happen that after selecting a plan, a different provider is found out to offer cheap plans or more features compared to the existing one. Under such circumstances the box bought from current VoIP provider is of no use at all as it is locked. The entire system needs to be replaced and this also results in spending more money.

Now the question arises whether the VoIP box purchased can be installed by an individual or not. The answer is – yes – if the individual is technically savvy. An individual having good technical knowledge over the communication system can take a different way with more flexibility. One just needs to follow some simple steps and come out with a VoIP setup with ease.

Getting An Unlocked VoIP Box

Generic VoIP boxes are available from some vendors such as Linksys which are not locked. The Linksys PAP2T – NA is an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) based on SIP which can be configured and made to work with any VoIP provider. The ATA boxes supplied are to be plugged into a router and the phones connected to the ports. This way, one can continue using the same device even if the service provider is changed.

Configuring The Unlocked Device

Configuring the device is essential to start using the device. Software such as Configuration Wizard by Voxilla can be used. A SIP user name and password is required from the VoIP service provider and you should also be aware of your IP address. Voxilla has the option of setting up other VoIP devices in addition to Linksys PAP2T–NA. Site registration is required which is free, but you need to agree to basic rules in order to use the wizard. One issue is that Voxilla does not list all VoIP service providers. If the particular VoIP is not listed than it may not support that provider’s configuration easily. Entering a dial plan is to be configured and is the most difficult part of the configuration. Although a generic dial plan is included in Voxilla wizard that works with most VoIP providers, a bit of tweaking is required. Once the wizard is completed in the browser, configuration information can be directly uploaded onto the device.

Extending Usability

Usability can be extended on ATA by plugging a cordless base station which will support multiple handsets. This will enable using of VoIP line anywhere within the range of the base station.  Even if you install a two line system with both PSTN and VoIP in it, VoIP or PSTN can be accessed from any handset with just a touch of button. This is useful if you want to call someone who does not have a VoIP number. While calling such people, PSTN lines can be used.

Another option is to go for AT&T EP5632 which is specifically aimed for SOHO markets. The speciality is that it supports Bluetooth connection.

By following the above tips, setting up of VoIP is easy and can be made to work with the VoIP provider’s network. It is basically a do-it-yourself process for people with sound skills in technology and networking. It is fun to configure your own device and get more control over the system. Try it sometime or give us a call and we will do it for you.

VoIP For Serious Businesses

For business that are serious about their business phones systems, we are there to suggest and a configure a world class VoIP system for you. We offer Toshiba’s IPedge, VIPedge, and Strata CIX systems, as well as their innumerable phones, and IP mobility. Give us a call today.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

How to Run VoIP on a Wireless LAN

There are many offices where VoIP is deployed over the existing wireless LAN, so that it meets the wireless standards of communication followed in a business. The deployment of VoIP over wireless LAN is quite similar to the wired LAN and in this case the wired networks are replaced with the wireless networks for carrying out the VoIP communication.

The Wireless LAN and VoIP

In a wireless LAN all the network devices and the other equipments are connected without any wires. The WI-Fi technology is the most commonly used technology for building the wireless network. Instead of the commonly used wired hubs (for wired networks), the wireless routers or hubs are used for connecting the network devices and this in turn may be connected to the ATA. The biggest advantage offered by wireless LAN and a VoIP system built on the same is that it offers great level of mobility. For instance, any user who wants to make private calls from any other location in the office building can do so if his/her location is within the network range.

Why a Wireless LAN?

As discussed earlier, the reason behind using the wireless LAN is to gain mobility. Here are a few examples of how mobility can make a real difference and why we need to switch to wireless LAN: In case of medical emergencies, the medical team has to maintain constant internal as well as external communication and that means they have to be on the move. Now, this is possible only when there is a VoIP on the wireless LAN and everyone can communicate with the help of their personal phones by logging in to the same network. The team working on the factory floor has to constantly move from one place to another and they cannot stay in their seats for too long. So in order to maintain smooth and continuous communication, they would need a solution powered by the VoIP on a wireless network. The VoIP on a wireless LAN is their best bet when it comes to maintaining the impeccable communication on the factory’s floor. The Wi-Fi hotspots powered by VoIP are really cool as the callers can be easily logged in with the help of their tablets or laptops and communicate with anyone of their choice. Despite all the great advantages of powering mobility, its popularity still does not seem to match with other technologies. Some of the pertinent reasons are as follows:

Drawbacks with wireless VoIP

The four primary reasons that are proving to be hurdles on the path of wireless VoIP’s popularity are as follows:

  • The VoIP on LAN is mostly preferred for office set ups where there are multiple users on the same networks. Now there are real issues with the scalability for the companies.
  • The QOS or Quality of Service is not up to mark for the wireless networks when compared with the wired networks
  • The cost, time, effort and skills required for setting up and maintaining the network is much  higher for the wireless networks
  • The wireless VoIP networks are more vulnerable to security threats than any other network, thus companies are not quite as confident about implementing the VoIP over wireless LAN.

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling. We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

Start Your Call Center with the Help of VoIP

People who think that call centers that have the ability to provide exceptional customer care belong in a completely different league are mistaken. The call centers that provide premium quality customer service are just a tad bit smarter than the others. Building up a call center does not necessarily need huge investments; even smaller investments can give shape to highly efficient call centers. In order to stay afloat in the call centre market, it is imperative that you too have a system to deliver exceptional services. In order to achieve this business target, you will definitely need the support of the latest VoIP call center solutions.

What can VoIP do?

VoIP or Voice over internet protocol is the latest technology that uses the internet to transmit voice signals in the form of data packets. During a VoIP call, the voice signals are converted into data packets and transmitted over the internet. On reaching the destination, the packets are again converted back to voice signals by the receiving device. Thus, the caller does not even know about the complex process behind their simple calls. All the calls can be made for free if the same VoIP software is being used by the receiver and the caller at the same time. For making calls to landline or mobile numbers, minimum call charges are levied even on long distance calls.

What do you require to get started?

You require telephone handsets that are compatible with VoIP, i.e. the ones that can be plugged in to the VoIP system without any other additional devices. You need to acquire a toll free number for your business as that would make your call center much more professional and you can serve a wide range of customer from different countries.

Call center solutions typically consist of software that can support the functions of a call centre. This solution is a mixed bag of services and products that can provide perfect support to the CRM or Customer Relationship Management. Most of the providers in the market come up with call center solutions in the form of a turnkey product or package like unified communication or an outsourced call center. Software that helps the owners run a complete call center also come under the category of call center solutions. There are a variety of call center solutions available in the market and some of the popular ones are as follows:

  • Inbound Call Center
  • Outbound Call Center
  • Offshore Call Center
  • Blended Call Center
  • Web Enabled Call Center
  • Virtual Call Center
  • Contact Center

The inbound call center solutions have been designed to help companies in handling incoming calls like tech support or customer service. On the other hand the outbound call centre solutions have been designed to help the businesses generate new leads, carry out market research and customer outreach. Almost all telemarketing companies use the outbound call center solutions.

The Blended call center solution has been designed to incorporate the features of both the inbound as well as the outbound call center solutions.

The virtual call center solution has been designed to cater to the needs of those businesses that are spread over multiple locations or the ones that do not have any physical locations allotted to them. In such a case the calling agents are home-based workers.

Advanced Telephony Features

The majority of the premium quality call center solutions are powered by VoIP; hence they come with the following advanced telephony features for better call management:

  • Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
  • Unified Communications
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
  • Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
  • Predictive Dialing

About One Call Communications

One Call Communications is a leading provider of phone systems in North Carolina. We serve thousands of clients across Greenville, Rocky Mt., Goldsboro, Smithfield, & Wilson. We sell, install, and service business telephone equipment, voicemail and, voice and data network cabling.

We install and service premium quality products from Toshiba Telecom. We serve both commercial and industrial clients.

Call us today for your networking and communication requirements.

 

Cloud Telephony – Boon or Bane?

cloud telephony

Before we start looking at the aspects of cloud telephony, let us first get a quick understanding of what cloud telephony is.

Cloud telephony is called by various names – cloud telephony, cloud telephones, cloud phones, hosted telephone system and so on. Cloud or hosted telephone system takes the concept of VoIP phones systems a step forward.

In an IP/VoIP telephone system, you install an IP-PBX such as IPEdge or Strata CIX in your office. These modern systems are very small and usually take up the same space as a data server on your system rack. The IPedge EM, for example, that can handle up to 1000 users, is just a few inches tall – far away from the monstrous EPABXs that occupied a full room. And compared to the 100s of lines that used to run from these EPABX, you will have a single Ethernet cable connecting the IPEdge to your LAN switch. It is the switch that connects to various points in your office.

In a cloud telephone system, multiples of IP PBX’s such as IPEdge are hosted in a secure data center by a service provider. When you connect to the server(s), you become a client to the hosted telephone system. You are given a unique id that is linked to a static IP address assigned to you. You can now start making and receiving calls. The hosted IP PBX acts as a switch for you, and routes your incoming and outgoing calls properly for you.

Certain software is added to the whole thing. This software will control how many features you can access. In general, you are charged per user on a monthly basis linked to the number of features you use.

Maintaining Your Server for You

When you install your own IP Server, there are some assumptions that are made. One; that you have a well laid and stable LAN. Two; that you have enough space and resources to manage the server. Three; that you have a high speed connection to the Internet. In addition to the hardware, you will need to install software to manage the server and get reports on its use. You may also need someone savvy enough to understand how the server works, update it regularly, and generally maintain it well. There will also be the initial set-up, but there you will have help from good dealers such as One Call communications who understand the system well.

When you look at a hosted server, the CAPEX required for the server and all its hardware and software upkeep is handled by the service provider such as Toshiba for VIPEdge. All you need at your end is an IP compatible phone and an Internet connection. This is one of biggest advantages of a hosted or cloud based telephone system. And, that is certainly a boon for small companies which are not ready or are reluctant to commit to an IP PBX.

Toshiba’s VIPegde is maintained on data centers that meets the SAS 70 Type II standard. They have three independent units, with each capable of carrying the load of the entire data center when needed. There is a 2000 KW standby generator and the whole thing is connected to a Tier 1 Internet backbone. Entry into and out of the data center are through extensive man-traps, dual authentication access points, and close circuit TV monitoring.

Whew! Sounds more secure that our NSA data center. These kinds of facilities can never be matched by a small company, and using a hosted phone system is certainly meaningful, particularly when you are taking baby steps on using IP Phones as your primary communication method.

Cloud Telephony: A Better Way to Call?

With such advanced set-up, and the survivability techniques offered by the service provider, you can take your step of moving away from PSTN and regular phone lines with confidence. But what happens if there is an outage in my office? What happens if my Internet connection is down? Most cloud telephony providers will be able to route the calls to your mobile phones. The concept of mobility is built-in and quite well established into IP phone systems and that is extended to cloud based IP phone systems also.

If you are exploring moving away from regular phone lines, hosted IP communication is a safe bet. Your CAPEX is literally zero, you have no operational costs, and you risks are limited to the monthly charges. Companies such as Toshiba go to great extent to ensure that their service never breaks down, and you should certainly take advantage of that.

As you get more confident with the use of IP based phones, you can look at either adding more users, getting more features, or consider installing your own IP server such as IPedge or Strata CIX. The choice is in terms of your requirements – both numbers and features.

So is Cloud Telephony all Hunky Dory?

Certainly not. There are downsides to everything including cloud based phone systems.

Voice Quality: Unlike Toshiba, not all cloud based phone service providers would take so much care. Some many use public networks for voice transmission. This can make you connectivity and voice quality unpredictable. If your business is dependent a lot of phone calls, this is something you must consider carefully.

Connectivity Dependency: Whatever said and done, you are using a public Internet to connect to the service provider. Unlike surfing, emails, and data movement, IP phone works in real time. If there is a small glitch in the Internet connection, this will reflect as disconnected calls, low voice quality, or both sides screaming, ‘hello’, ‘hello’. If the ISP is down for some reason, your phone systems will be out.

Vendor Dependency: When you use a cloud based system, remember the server is under the control of the supervisor. In other words, you are completely dependent upon him for all your communication requirements. Choose you service provider carefully, and avoid people who make ‘cheap’ offers. Imagine getting all your clients and friends to talk to you on the IP phone system, and finding one day that your service provider has walked away into the sunset.

Data Security: Long time ago, companies such as Oracle and Microsoft offered advanced financial accounting as a cloud based service. They never took off really for one simple reason – any CFO’s reluctance to be dependent on someone else to tell you how much money you are making. The cloud phone service provider must adhere to six tenets of data security:

  1. Confidentiality – secrecy, no one can listen in etc.
  2. Integrity – no changes must be made to number of users, to features that you use.
  3. Availability – should be available 24/7 or whenever you need it.
  4. Utility – must save you money, must enable easy calling and receiving of calls etc.
  5. Authenticity – must be genuine in terms of the service provided. All users paying a certain rate must get the same service.
  6. Possession – you must have full control over use of the features and calls.

If you see, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Add to that the saving in phone calls, and using a cloud based telephone systems is certainly worth a try.