Choosing a Cloud-Based Communications Solution: Part 1

Understanding the Difference Between Cloud, Premise, and Hybrid Communications Systems

This is the first of a 3-part series on choosing a cloud-based communications solution.

The internet is full of articles, like this one, that offer advice on choosing your next phone system. Most of these articles are written by someone pushing one specific agenda. The author sells cloud service, so that has to be the answer. Or they sell a premise-based solution, so that’s always the right solution.

This article is different. Not because we’re not motivated to sell you stuff, but because Vertical Communications offers a wide variety of solutions. We don’t extoll the virtues of a hammer, because we’ve got a whole toolbox! Since Vertical Communications offers cloud and premised-based solutions and will even support your existing system, we’re able to provide you a more balanced analysis.

There are three options to consider: buy cloud service, invest in a new premise-based system, or keep your existing system. There are advantages to each option and this article will help you identify the solution best fitted to your company.

Buying Cloud Phone Service

There’s no doubt that cloud services are growing dramatically. Cloud telephony is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4% over the next three years and this growth trend is expected to transition from being driven mostly by small and medium business (SMB) to accelerated growth in the enterprise sector. But you don’t make business buying decisions just based on what everyone else is doing. It’s important to look at the three main reasons a cloud solution will make sense for your business.

1 Business communications are critical to your daily operations

If your company depends on voice communications as part of your customer engagement strategy, then it’s critical that those communications are always available. The key to survivability is that geographic redundancy and cloud systems inherently do this well. Premise-based solutions CAN do this too, but it takes a much larger investment on your part to accomplish and it’s very easy to fail over time by not testing your disaster strategy. It’s simpler to hand that responsibility to a cloud vendor.

Be aware that not all cloud vendors are the same! Just because a company offers cloud telephony service doesn’t mean that they deliver a highly reliable service. Not all vendors are created equal. It’s important to do research and find a truly reliable solution.

Are you interested in learning more about your vendor options? Vertical Communications partners with a variety of vendors to offer Cloud Solutions. Click here to contact Vertical and find the right solution for your needs.

2 Your company is geographically distributed

A cloud solution is nearly required if your company is made up of mostly remote workers or you have many locations with a weak Wide-Area Network (WAN) to support them. A cloud telephony solution makes it easy for at-home workers to have a business phone on their desk, use a Unified Communications client on the go, or access advanced services (like call center or conferencing and collaboration) from anywhere. While it is possible to do this with a premise-based system, it’s much easier to accomplish it with a cloud solution.

The same is true if you have a weak WAN connecting your offices. A premise-based solution will sit at one or more of your locations and provide service to the other sites via Voice Over IP technology (VOIP). If your WAN isn’t highly reliable with a good amount of bandwidth to each site, then you can have call quality problems. A cloud solution can use each location’s internet rather than the costlier WAN services and so it may be more reliable.

Discovering if you have a weak WAN connection is easy with the help of a Solution Engineer. Click here to schedule a Network Assessment now to learn more about your connection. 

3 You need to stay up–to-date on the latest advances in communications technology

Cloud solutions excel at delivering you the latest technology with minimal fuss. If you need to have the latest communications breakthroughs, then you should go for a cloud solution.

For example, if your company has a cutting-edge call center that talks to clients via voice, video, IM, SMS, and more, then a cloud solution may be ideal. As new technologies pop-up, it’s important to embrace them quickly. Cloud solutions can quickly and easily roll new technologies out to you with no effort on your part. Since the cloud vendor runs the cloud back-end, the pain and difficulty of making sure a software upgrade goes flawlessly is their responsibility, not yours.

It’s possible to get the latest technology with premise solutions. Vertical offers several solutions that include a “software assurance” option, which gives you access to new technology all the time. However, a premise solution still requires your individual system to have that software applied. Without all of the protections and procedures a cloud vendor has to implement to offer service, it’s much more likely that a premise-based upgrade could have problems and become a painful business problem rather than advantage. Go cloud if you need the latest technology.

Let Vertical Communications show you what the state of the art in communications technology looks like today. We can also give you an idea of what technologies are coming in the near future so you can decide if you need to stay up to the minute. Click here to get connected with Vertical.

4 You want to divest responsibility for maintaining and supporting your communications

Your business has limited resources, and you have to prioritize. A cloud telephony solution allows you to pay someone else to fully own and maintain your communications solution. With a cloud solution you’re able to get going immediately with an advanced communications solution without a great deal of difficulty and without having to maintain the system.

It’s possible to get a premise-based solution that has a full maintenance contract with it to achieve the same ends (such as iPECS Premise), but the system still resides at your office or data center. Factors such as power, reliability, and network quality impact the service. A cloud solution is just simpler if you need to outsource your phones to somebody else and focus on your business.

5 If you are growing rapidly

If your company is expanding rapidly, then a cloud solution makes a lot of sense. Cloud systems scale easily and there’s little investment or effort to add additional phones or services. This can be especially useful if you are a startup with a steep growth curve planned.

On a premise-based system, you have to buy capacity in specific blocks (whether it’s hardware or software based.) This capacity often requires an install charge. You must plan ahead for growth and buy capacity up-front. If your business size is stable then this is no problem. However, a quickly growing company may prefer to just buy services as needed.

To learn more about choosing a cloud-based Communications Solution, read part 2 of the series.