Jul 31, 2019
November 28, 2018
Do you know your VoIP from your Cloud Telephony?
If you regularly hear the words Hosted, Cloud, VoIP & SIP used in the same sentence to describe the same thing, you are not alone, and these buzzwords are only becoming increasingly harder to distinguish from each other.
As older communication technologies have become obsolete, new technologies have emerged that are constantly being promoted by service providers. It’s important for businesses to understand what these technologies are and what they can do, so they fully understand what it is they are buying.
To help keep things simple, we have broken everything down into two key areas: the languages used in telecoms and the hosted vs in-premise dilemma.
THE TWO LANGUAGES
Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP can be described as a protocol or language that manages voice traffic across a computer network. Previously computer and voice traffic were completely separate but VoIP manages voice traffic using the same network.
A VoIP system can be based in your office or hosted on the cloud & offers the same features that were once exclusive to analogue phone systems. Auto attendants, queues and multi-party conferencing are just a few of the features business VoIP providers have adopted and improved upon.
This means small and medium-sized businesses now have access to enterprise grade features, at a much lower cost. While the technology and infrastructure working in the background, also helps to future proof their telephony, providing resiliency and flexibility so their business can continue to be responsive to customers.
SIP is also a protocol or language that manages how different types of devices talk to each other. For small businesses, when people mention SIP, they often mean SIP Trunks, which are phone lines that use an Internet connection but otherwise act the same as your existing ISDN/PSTN lines.
This provides benefits including lower prices compared with the cost of ISDN line rental and the speed of deployment means that businesses can easily expand to cope with increased calls. Often this can be done immediately, compared to the delay in having additional lines installed and then having to upgrade your old PBX to handle more lines.
HOSTED VS IN-PREMISE
In reality, these two terms are interchangeable in most cases. If something is hosted, it is not necessarily hosted in your office; it can be seen to be on a cloud.
To explain, there are many different types of clouds, for example you can have a cloud based in an office that services many other offices; you can also have a cloud that is hosted in a data centre by a 3rd party service provider, or you can have a mix of both. If you use Office 365 you are using Microsoft Cloud, whereas if you remotely access applications located at your Head Office location, such as an accounting package, this is also done using cloud but is the organisations own.
So, what does this mean for the world of telephones? With the development of better and faster Internet connectivity for many, the phone no longer necessarily needs to be located in premise. Instead, you can choose to have it located in one of your offices, servicing many workers including those on the road. Or you can opt to use a 3rd party provider’s data centre to host your telephony system.
It should also be noted that many hosted/cloud phone systems use VoIP and SIP in their operation - the terms are not mutually exclusive.
What are providers really trying to sell?
When someone tries to sell you VoIP, they are selling you a service where the ‘brains’ are located in an office or you are renting a share of a 3rd party’s system. Whatever option you choose will depend on 3 factors:
- Internet & Infrastructure
- Business Needs
If you are sharing a cloud/hosted system, chances are you will be renting on a per user, per month basis, typically with an inclusive lines & call bundle. This can be extremely convenient for some as the lower start-up costs can ease capital expenditure.
Over time, however, much like renting a house, you will continue to pay for the service but never own the system. It may be more economic over 3 to 5 years to consider buying/leasing and hosting a VoIP telephony service in your office.
Any phone system using VoIP and SIP Trunks will have some pre-requisites, whether it is hosted or in-premise. Amongst these are:
- How good the connection is - if on cloud, in particular, or using SIP, the Internet is critical to success. In fact one of the biggest issues of cloud/hosted is an inadequate Internet connection which results in an ineffective phone system.
- Within an office, any VoIP system will also require you to have the right network cabling, data switches & routers to power and network your phones. The cost of these needs to be factored into any quotes. A VoIP vendor should be able to provide an assessment of your network and cabling needs for you.
To help understand what is best for you, consider how your business operates. Do you have one office or many? Do you have lots of mobile users? Do your staff levels fluctuate? These kinds of questions will help when deciding between rent vs buy and using a hosted or in premise VoIP system.
Why not find out if you really know your stuff by taking our ‘Do you know your VoIP from your Cloud Telephony?’ Quiz. Or contact our team on 028 9078 6868 if you have any questions of your own.