Monday, December 10, 2012

Cloud Based Unified Communications

Servers in the cloud are now commonly accepted. Many IT organizations are finding it makes more sense to have nearly instant access to nearly unlimited processing and storage than be constantly trying to figure out how much hardware to order for next year. You have a problem either way. Guess too low and you run out of capacity when unexpected business comes your way. Guess too high and you are saddled with expensive resources that sit there idle, using power but not doing much else. It’s a good thing that you don’t have these problems with the phone system. Or do you?

Check out cloud based unified communications services...In a way, your PBX switching system can be thought of as just another server. Chances are that it is a proprietary design that only the vendor supports. It’s also deals with IO (Input/Output) that is unique to the telephone industry. Just how scalable is this system? Probably not much. You start out ordering as much capacity as you can anticipate and most of it sits idle awaiting the business to grow into in. At some point you run out of capacity and no more phones or lines can be connected. For awhile, you can work around these limitations by ordering additional interface boards. Then the whole design goes obsolete and you start all over.

How would you like to get rid of this headache and greatly expand your voice communications options? As you might suspect, the answer is in the cloud. With cloud based communications, all switching and message storage is done on cloud based servers. You simply need a user access device known as a SIP telephone or IP Phone. These devices piggyback on your data network can connect to the cloud using a specialized WAN connection called a SIP Trunk. Out goes all that phone wiring as well as the old clunker PBX and the expense of maintaining it and periodically buying a newer model. The cloud keeps all the hardware and software up to date.

Need more capacity? Just bring it online the way you order up more cloud servers. In this case, the capacity is measured in terms of “seats.” One seat is one telephone. You need more phones? Order additional seats as required. You pay for these per seat per month. Many times the price you pay is a fixed amount that includes your domestic local and long distance calling plus a plethora of features.

Speaking of features, cloud based PBX or hosted PBX systems can do tricks that your old in-house PBX hardware can’t. For instance, much of today’s business communication is done on smartphones. PBX equipment doesn’t know what to do with a smartphone. There’s no wire to plug it into a port on the machine. So, what you wind up with is a stand-alone office phone and a separate smartphone with its own features on its own network. If you spend a lot of time in the field, you’ll need to call into your desk phone voice mail from time to time just to see if there are any important messages. Well, at least when you’re in the office you can have both your desk phone and smart phone at hand.

Wouldn’t you rather have one number for clients to call and let the system sort out where to send it? That’s the idea behind unified communications. Instead of having all sorts of different ways that you communicate, each with their own device and connectivity, you integrate everything into one system that can handle it all. This can include traditional landline telephones plus wireless smartphones, but it can also include video conferencing, text messaging, email and FAX. What all of these have in common is that they are all network communications that are integrated on your own network. The SIP trunk connects your network to your provider’s network and vast cloud resources.

One provider, the global communications company Masergy, has expanded the role of cloud based unified communications to include CRM system integration, call accounting, call recording, automated attendants, hunt groups and call center features. Your access is by telephone, video phone, desktop computer, mobile device, laptop computer and business systems. They’re all connected to the cloud, making it possible to connect across diverse platforms. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing. You always have access to the same calling features and applications.

Have you just about reached the end of the “line” with your old in-house PBX phone system? Before you invest a fortune in a newer model and perpetuate the same old frustrations, consider a move to cloud based unified communications. You’ll probably find that you can get more productivity at less cost by switching to the latest cloud communications services.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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