So, you have decided to change your analog phone system for a less expensive voice over IP (VoIP) solution: congratulations! Making the decision is the first step, but the next is deciding which VoIP solution is right for you and your business. Each solution is different, so do some research into each type before selecting one. On-remises, hybrid, and hosted (also referred to as cloud) are the three main types of VoIP solutions, and I explore them here.
If you want control over the physical equipment for a business VoIP solution and have a skilled IT staff who can manage it, then this may be a great solution for your mid-sized to large business. Businesses have been managing their own phone systems for decades, and exchanging an analog system for an IP-based system isn’t a difficult transition if you already have a solid IT infrastructure.
Depending on the industry you’re in, you may actually need to have an on-premises VoIP system to meet certain industry standards and regulations. These systems should have redundant power, a reliable unified communications infrastructure, redundant lines, etc., to ensure continuity of communications. If you don’t need an on-premises solution, read on. Hosted and hybrid solutions may offer something that better suits your needs.
With hosted VoIP systems, a service provider maintains and owns the equipment and has an established solution it can offer to you for a monthly premium based on speed, availability, number of lines, etc. You would still need to have routers, switches, and of course IP phones, but the infrastructure would be taken care of.
Hosted solutions offer many pros and cons as a long-term solution and are often seen as a go-between temporary solution until an on-premises solution can be established. The upfront costs are much less for a hosted VoIP system than an on-premises system because you don’t have to pay for all the physical equipment (other than those items mentioned above). In the long run, the total cost of ownership could be high because you’re paying for the service every month and never have ownership of the physical server, which has pros and cons, as well.
A hybrid solution is the middle ground between hosted and on-premises solutions. With this option, you have the server and IP phones on premises but use a hosted system for the service. You also have the option of adding mobile VoIP service—a good solution if you already have an IP private branch exchange and want to add services and features.
Many vendors offer these solutions, and the best way to find out which is best for you is to set your budget, determine which type you think you’re interested in, and start contacting various vendors. What are you waiting for? COntact us today and we can assist you with making an informed decision based on your business needs.