Hosted VoIP: Talking in the Cloud

Friday, April 18, 2014/Categories: Business VoIP

If you aren’t already using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), chances are good that you will. More and more companies are trading traditional switched telephony for calling piggy-backed on a data network. But going to VoIP involves more than choosing a transmission medium. It can impact costs, capabilities, and the role of the IT department within the company.

As organizations turn to outsourcing for everything from payroll to manufacturing, many are looking for ways to free up IT resources and turn that department from a cost center to a strategic asset. One of the ways they are accomplishing this change is through hosted VoIP. Hosted VoIP delivers the same cost-effective, network-based service as putting phones on your own network, but places the equipment at a provider’s site rather than in your data center. This eliminates both the capital cost of on-premise gear and responsibility for its “care and feeding.” IT still gets to make the strategic decisions regarding telephony and, in fact, may have more time for that kind of planning, but responsibility for tactical implementation is outsourced. Choosing the right hosting provider can ensure reliable service today and the ability to quickly adapt as your needs grow and change. But, as the number of providers grow—and it is growing—that choice can get complicated.

Providing hosted VoIP, at least at a basic level, is easy enough that many vendors are jumping into the game. As in any high-growth field, not all of them will last, so it makes sense to look for a hosted VoIP vendor that has many years of experience as an indication of commitment and staying power. That will also ensure enough knowledge to tailor the services to your needs and deliver them effectively. Certifications aren’t everything, but they’re a good indication of the kind of knowledge and experience you’re looking for.

For similar reasons, look for a system built on a well-established platform. An upstart telephony platform that goes under in an industry shakeout can be replaced, but being forced to migrate to a new platform with new operations is no fun for users. Don’t be a guinea pig.

Don’t just look for the features you need today. There’s a good chance that you’ll want to add capabilities in the future. While you probably won’t immediately use all the features of a richly-featured platform, if the components you need aren’t available, your growth will be limited. A robust system should be capable of supporting phones, voicemail, email, video, mobility, collaboration, instant messaging, and advanced applications like speech to text. Plan now for future growth in both size and scope.

Seriously consider the advantages of working with a provider with their own network, preferably fiber based. The more vendors involved in delivering your telephony, the better the chances that if something goes wrong there will be “finger-pointing” among vendors while you wait for a resolution. A single-source provider has no one to point fingers at. And finally, the wider the area covered by the provider’s network, the better they’ll be able to handle your growth and communication.

In short, if you have the bandwidth (both literally and figuratively) you can provision and maintain your own VoIP. But if you choose to let someone else host it for you, it just makes sense to check out their capabilities including:

• VoIP experience
• A qualified and experienced engineer team
• Hosted VoIP certifications
• An established platform
• A feature-rich offering
• Their own fiber-based network
• A generous geographic reach

Analyzing current growth, predicting future needs, proactive planning, and working with an established vendor capable of providing a wealth of services and a platform capable of meeting your current and coming requirements will benefit your company and growing VoIP demands.

If you would like to explore VoIP hosting options, costs, and capabilities and their potential benefits for your business, please contact us at Enventis. We’re here to help.

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