For most people, the answer is “who cares?” The actual phone system could be anywhere. As long as it works all day, every day, the mechanics of how this is accomplished is beyond the interest of all but a few people. The ones who care are the business manager who pays the phone bills, the IT person or people who quietly keep everything humming, and the provider of the service.
That provider could be the local phone company. That’s how it was for at least half of the last century. For many if not most companies, at least part of the system is in-house. This could be a small wireless phone system with a couple of lines and a half-dozen handsets. It could be a key system using desk phones with a separate button for each of 4 to 6 outside lines. It might even be a PBX phone system mounted in a back room with lines coming in from each phone and going out to the telephone company.
Since very few people are all that interested in running their own in-house telephone switching system, why not ditch the whole thing? Does that mean going back to analog phones connected to the local Telco? Not at all. Today it means going forward to a cloud based solution that will give you all the functionality you have now and more.
Cloud communications is the new PBX. It’s also the new key system and the new small office system with only a few telephones. It may even provide your broadband Internet.
The cloud telephone system is more formally known as hosted PBX or hosted VoIP. You already know what hosting is. Chances are that you already buy a hosting solution from one of the many online providers. This could be a shared solution, a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server of your own. The economics of setting up your own data center just to run a web server don’t make sense anymore. There is so much competition in the hosting field that simple solutions are only a few dollars a month. Dedicated servers are only a few hundreds of dollars per month. That includes the box, the bandwidth and the IT services to keep it all running.
Larger companies that run their own customized packages for business information may have elected to just add one more server for the web to the racks they already have in their data centers. It hasn’t made much sense to go out of house for a solution when you need a large data center and staffing to optimize your business. Well, not till recently. Now these major corporations are shutting down their in-house data centers and moving to cloud computing solutions in droves. Why? For the same reasons that make sense to outsource telephone systems. You don’t need to invest in capital and you don’t need a staff to maintain it.
The point is that cloud services have evolved to the point where both your computing and your telephone can be supplied by a cloud vendor at a lower overall cost with more functionality and lower in-house staffing than doing it yourself. There are other advantages, too. You pay for a cloud telephone system per seat per month. You only buy as many seats as you need. When you need more, you order more. There is no need to maintain extra capacity just in case business picks up suddenly. Provisioning of extra resources is fast and easy because the cloud has all the capacity you need.
Now that you have office telephone solutions in the cloud as an option, is there any reason to be stuck with a technical solution that was “modern” decades ago? At the very least, take a look at what’s available in the cloud, what it costs compared to what you are paying now, and if you can get all new phones included with your service.
Note: Original photo of telephone operators courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives on Wikimedia Commons.