The Promise of Communications in the Cloud – One Cloud Does Have a Silver Lining

Many organizations are stuck in the fog of complexity as they move towards the promise of communications in the cloud. Over time it has become clear that the glitter is wearing off the rosy predictions of cloud/hosted based services supporting all aspects of hosted voice; including features, quality, serviceability, dependability and price. Though every cloud has a silver lining, these cloud services aren’t all dreamy.

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So, that brings us to the question – Which is better for your business: a premises-based solution, in which the hardware appliance is kept on-site in your server closet, or a cloud phone system, where your phones connect through your Internet connection to a provider that maintains the equipment at an off-site cloud hosted data center? Educating yourself on the potential challenges that come with using a hosted/cloud solution can help you make a good decision to ensure your business needs are met.

There are 5 basic concerns with a Hosted/Cloud based solution. They are:

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  • Available Features – The first and most important aspect to consider is understanding which features are offered. Hosted/cloud PBX providers are popping up everywhere! They are all trying to prove that their monthly rentals of cloud services are better and more cost effective than Premise Based PBX solutions. However, in reality many cloud/hosted PBX providers don’t offer the same features in their hosted product as they do for their premises-based solution. Premise-based PBX’s have the edge in features and flexibility over the hosted solutions. They are designed with a high level of customization available. If critical business communications features like queues, IVRs and conferencing are missing, or cost extra, then the product may not be a viable solution.
  • Dependability – Hosted phone systems rely on a connection either to the public Internet or to the vendor’s datacenter. For customers using a public Internet connection, this means that if the ISP is down, the phones are also down. Basically, you are at the mercy of the provider, and if they suffer an outage, so do you. On a premised based system, when you transfer a call from one extension to another extension in the office, the phone switch in the closet on premise makes that happen. All the signaling occurs locally just feet away instead of miles. With a hosted system, a transfer from one extension to another takes place at the hosted provider’s switch which would usually reside many states away. This increased distance causes latency and also increases the need for a constant robust Internet connection.
  • Voice Quality – Cloud-based phone systems that rely solely on the public Internet for voice transmission can make voice quality unpredictable, which may compromise businesses that rely on the phone for customer transactions and interactions. Premise based phones use actual physical wires to transmit their calls and therefore there is much less chance of any external variables affecting the call quality. Cloud based phones use internet and therefore the company’s internet needs to be robust in order to ensure that it maintains the necessary speed to make the calls sound professional. If too many people are online at once, then the call quality will drop.
  • Security – The security risks extend beyond toll fraud, voicemail hacks, and eavesdropping. A hosted/cloud solution may be the entry point into your business network. Calls and voicemail messages are data, susceptible to data network attacks. Voice mail messages, call records, chat conversations, or any other form of communication that you typically save are kept in the cloud with a hosted solution. Many businesses may not be comfortable leaving their important info in the hands of another business.
  • Cost – If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Typically, hosted PBX providers charge a contracted monthly rate per user, plus additional charges for added features. In a cloud based hosted solution, when opting for more than the basic feature set “per user,” monthly recurring costs can increase dramatically. The costs for advanced features are often handled via a la carte creating a situation where your original per user pricing ends up costing double or triple per user.

So, back to the question – Which is better for your business: a premises-based solution or an off-site hosted/cloud based solution?

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Before you answer, there is also a third option. A hybrid model that offers the best of both worlds through a unified integration approach between on-premises and cloud applications. Avatel is excited to announce the availability of an Avaya hybrid solution that links a secure premise based system like the Avaya IP Office with cloud-based applications through the Esna-enabled Avaya Communicator for Web. This cloud does have a silver lining, as the Avaya Communicator for Web, enables users to access Avaya IP Office collaboration capabilities – such as voice and video calling, presence and IM – with just one click from within Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Microsoft Office 365, or any web page. This seamless integration can safely drive major customer benefits:

  • Enhance employee productivity and customer engagement by providing fast, one-click access to voice, video, presence/IM, conferencing, messaging (and other modes) from within a cloud-based application.
  • Reduce costs, business disruption and burden on IT budgets through simple integration and an open approach that leverages existing multi-vendor technologies.
  • Optimize and extend investment in Avaya on premise solutions with cloud applications.
  • Access real-time communication tools for a rich communications experience from within cloud business applications.

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With the Avaya IP Office hybrid on-premise solution you get the traditional, comfortable and secure feeling of being in control of all aspects of your business information. I think control is a good word to sum up the biggest benefit of an on premise solution. We believe that even the smallest businesses can see benefits from having their phone system residing in their closet, rather than 2000 miles away. The IP Office provides your business more flexibility (features, functions, dependability, security, custom tailored implementation and support model). It also offers an overall lower cost of total ownership, as the IP Office can be financed with 0% down and low monthly payments.

The Avaya IP Office platform represents the ideal, most versatile office telephone system for small and medium business that money can buy. Our customers love it and industry analysts love it. With the IP Office you can have the most basic level of telephony without IP or applications in the smallest of offices. However, if your requirements are more robust, the latest release of the IP Office can now scale to 2,500 endpoints across 150 sites, with communications tools to establish a competitive edge – through intelligent call routing, sophisticated messaging, call handling and now cloud-based application integration.

Avaya Communicator for Web supports Avaya IP Office Preferred Edition, IP Office Server Edition, and IP Office Select release 9.1.2 or later. Avaya one-X Portal is required, along with one of the following licenses – Mobile Worker, Office Worker, Teleworker, Power User. Salesforce integration requires Salesforce Open CTI and works with Salesforce Enterprise or Unlimited editions.

Contact an Avatel representative today at 866.835.2661 to learn more about the unified integration approach between on-premises and cloud applications with the IP Office.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP

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