Cloud technology, also known as cloud computing, is the process of computing over a network. Think of it this way. Office X has a room that houses a server. An IT manager or outsourced IT team maintains the server. If increased computing capabilities are required, the server must be physically upgraded. If office X were to switch to cloud computing, they would no longer need a room to house their server. All the functions of the server would be handled remotely by a network. Upgrades, software installations, increased memory, and the running of applications are handled by the remote network. This idea can also have an impact on your office phone system.
A more detailed description of cloud computing can be found at HowStuffWorks.com but Cloud computing is not limited to computers. You can use cloud computing to increase productivity and save money with your office phone system.
What is the main difference between standard and cloud based phones?
Scott Irving performs IT services for a firm that also provides IP phones to distributors. “Standard PSTN or PBX based phones use the standard phone lines that have been installed in homes for decades, whereas cloud-based and IP phones utilize a high-speed internet connection, says Irving. “Standard phones use dedicated hardwired phone connections, while cloud phones can utilize any high speed internet connection regardless of location.” In order for an office phone system to make the switch to the cloud, it must have access to a reliable internet connection.
What are the pros?
“Cloud phones are not tied to any one physical location,” says Irving. “As long as there is a high speed internet connection, be it ADSL, cable or cellular, you can setup a cloud-based solution. They offer extreme flexibility and mobility. Problems can generally be fixed faster and changes to configurations are near instant.” Like having your server on the cloud, your office phone system benefits from a faster upgrades and service if “in the cloud”.
The office phone system that uses cloud computing will also benefit from decreased costs; and lowered overhead costs are something every businesses strives for. Cost saving cloud-based advantages include only paying for the services and features you need. The costs for long distance calls are also significantly reduced. The office that makes phone calls over an internet connection rather than a using POTS (literally translates to Plain Old Telephone System) is not burdened with the costs imposed by land-line phone companies. Irving explains. “Cloud/IP phones will generally have a significantly reduced operating cost than traditional phone systems, often saving hundreds to companies on a monthly basis. However there is often a higher initial purchasing cost on phone hardware – though there is a large variety of phones to choose from, varying in cost.”
What are the cons?
“Cloud-based phones, being reliant on internet, are subject to its downfalls, explains Irving. “If the internet goes down, so does the phone service. Internet service, while being very consistent, has not reached the levels of reliability that land lines have. Cloud-based and IP based systems are also susceptible to DoS attacks and other internet attacks.”
When switching your office phone system to a cloud-based system, you should also be aware of the following:
- Double check with your provider to make sure a 911 call will still direct emergency services to your office’s location.
- Voice quality may decline. Your calls are now going through the internet, not a POTS line. In some areas, this may affect sound quality.
Are there privacy or security issues?
As with any system operated over the internet, privacy and security is always a concern. However, according to Irving, there is little cause to worry. “Cloud-based phones can’t be taped or spied on in the same way hard lines can,” he says. “Cloud-based phones can most always be password protected for increased security and privacy. However, they are IP-based, which means like anything connected to the internet they are vulnerable to attack by hackers and data can theoretically be intercepted for nefarious purposes.” Like anything connected to the internet, however, security measures can be put in place by the service provider to protect the office phone system against online attacks.
A smart choice for today’s offices
Any company intent on surviving in today’s economy knows the value of progression. We no longer rely on world-of-mouth advertising and walk-in traffic. These measures have been replaced with a strong internet presence to direct people to our doors and email to quickly move messages. Isn’t it time to also upgrade your office phone system?
- License: Creative Commons image source
This article was written by Thomas King, who upgraded his office phone system to cloud and found that it does make communication much easier.