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The Scalability of Hosted VoIP

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 13:45
Enterprise Unified Communications

When deciding whether to purchase an on-premises or hosted VoIP system for your business, there are many important considerations.  These include options like selecting from various cost models – upfront capital expense or ongoing operational expense?  Also, the company needs to decide what kind of phones and features make sense for its users – digital, IP, color display, basic, or some combination?  Do you need to be able to make changes on the fly or can your organization live with standard configuration options?  Will your enterprise be expanding, opening or closing offices, or experiencing mergers or acquisitions?

One common thread woven throughout these key evaluation factors is the level of scalability provided by hosted VoIP vs. on-site PBX systems.   Following is a comparison of these areas and their level of adjustability for hosted VoIP vs. on-site PBX solutions.

Hosted VoIP vs. On-Site PBX

Cost Models

Whether your organization has a small number of users, is expanding rapidly, or is in need of advanced Unified Communications features, a hosted VoIP system provides the most scalable options compared to a traditional PBX alone.  Moreover, the monthly per seat per user pricing structure common to hosted VoIP offers the most flexibility for companies – allowing them to add and delete users, adjust user type options and move up and down available plans, providing the best ongoing match between need and cost over time.

On the other hand, with on-site PBX systems, the company incurs a large upfront capital cost, with ongoing depreciation expense over time.  And for the most part, the on-premises PBX you start with is the one you end with once it is finally fully depreciated – unless the company moves to a hybrid system that expands the functionality of the base system.

Finally, hosted VoIP solutions provide cost-savings by lowering the costs of the on-site communications infrastructure.  They do so by utilizing existing data network cabling and devices for voice services, combining data and voice applications over the same system – minimizing hardware redundancy.  In contrast, an on-site PBX consists of hardware that must be purchased and installed – in addition to existing data network infrastructure equipment.

Available Features

Selecting a Hosted VoIP system allows for completely customizable communications solutions.  Features can be deployed as needed to only those users that require them.  

Hosted VoIP available features:

  • Auto-attendant – used to automatically route calls to specific extensions
  • DID (Direct Inward Dialing) – to allow individual VoIP extensions to be called with a direct number from the outside.
  • Digital or IP Phones with LCDs and side-cars for 1-button extension dialing
  • Hunt Groups tailored to your organization
  • Instant Messaging and Presence
  • Powerful call management tools,determining how calls are handled based on time of day, day of month, holiday, or even incoming number rules
  • Mobile Forwarding or Twinning
  • Voicemail – (Traditional or Visual), and more

On-site systems are generally less flexible and provide fewer standard features.  All of the basics are included, such as call hold, transfer to voicemail, extension dialing, etc., but advanced communication tools may not be available as part of traditional PBXs.

Ease of Management

With hosted VoIP, changes are handled quickly and efficiently through web-based portals.  These interfaces enable adds/deletes/moves for easy maintenance and optimization tweaks, as needed by the organization.  However, many legacy phone systems require an on-site visit from a technician familiar with the exact system interface, even for simple modifications to the configuration.

Furthermore, hosted VoIP system updates are taken care of at the VoIP provider’s location so there is no concern about adding hardware, patching equipment, or upgrading systems.  In contrast, with on-premises PBXs, knowledgeable staff members need to be on-hand to continuously monitor and update systems as firmware updates and patches are released – an additional and ongoing support expense.

Customized reporting for inbound and outbound call traffic can be accomplished easily with today’s hosted VoIP solutions.  Resulting data can then be used to improve customer service for call centers, as well as to increase operational efficiencies.  On the flip side, onsite PBXs have a limited number of reporting capabilities available to management, with a smaller number of changes and possible customizations.

Multiple Offices

Hosted VoIP can grow right along with your enterprise.  Opening a new office in Tucson?  Expanding across the east coast?  Simply put in the required infrastructure, add your phone lines, and you’re ready to go!  In this setup, companies don’t need to be concerned about whether they have enough PBX cards for the additional lines or how much it will cost to add more cards to their existing system.  They can just expand as the need arises, with few if any interruptions to their communications infrastructure.

Furthermore, being able to size the communications systems using hosted VoIP as the business ebbs and flows enables other benefits – such as the unification of systems and cost savings – via features like international dialing and 3- or 5-digit extension dialing between offices.  Moreover, a cloud-based system allows IT organizations to focus on running their businesses instead of tending to infrastructure.  On-site systems can bog companies down with maintenance and support issues, taking employees’ focus off long-term goals.

When reviewing phone system options for your company, it’s easy to see how many advantages are available when hosted VoIP communication systems are implemented for the business.  Top VoIP systems include a suite of cloud-based, on–demand hosted VoIP services, including full PBX functionality, advanced enterprise and personal call management tools, tailored cost plans, and leading edge Unified Communications (UC) features.  A recurring commonality amongst these appealing features is the high scalability and flexibility of hosted VoIP.  When compared with traditional phone systems, hosted VoIP typically comes out on top for its flexibility and unrivaled scalability.


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