Telecom – John Keetley, NEC

Telecom has become a very big area of choice and understanding since the advent of using data to deliver voice services. There are so many ways to provide the voice services that customers need for their business. Let me count the ways……….

Traditional premise based purchase and lease

Many businesses are still quite happy to purchase or lease- to- purchase the new voice system. This is a familiar route to go and can include all the new bells and whistles like Unified Communications and Unified Messaging, which ties all of the desperate devices together like physical desk set, smart phone, tablet and desk top and provides access to voicemail through the email including the mobile smart phone. It supports both traditional digital and analogue with dedicated cable back to the phone system appliance and delivers the familiar features and the access to those features and therefore requires less training and extra spending on the data side of things. These same systems are often hybrids so a mix of traditional and VoIP for remote workers or highly mobile staff are well served by mixing the two technologies. Phone lines can still be traditional or from the cloud as well in a premise solution and SMB continues to embrace this approach as a familiar one but with new capabilities to make staff more productive. The desktop computer or laptop becomes integrated and adds great value and useful information such as the presence of others. Sites can be connected using the customer’s network even into a single system these days. Traditional premise can still provide the highest reliability and lowest total cost of ownership in many cases.

Premise- Opex Telecom

This is very similar to installing a site premise system telecom appliance mentioned above but you do not lease or own the solution. This approach to replacing telecom systems is becoming very popular because it provides the familiar features and the advanced features but in an “opex or rental option”. The outside Telco lines are from the cloud only called SIP and North American Long distance are bundled in. the telephone hardware such as a desk set or smart phone app are provided with the solution without capital purchase. This is a great way for businesses to upgrade older systems with a small bump in the monthly cost to have an entirely new system provided. Often the new productivity features more than pay for the monthly opex costs. Hardware and software are covered by warranty and access to software updates as they become available to keep everything current because after all the modern data telecom system is a computer of sorts. Not all telecom vendors offer this type of arrangement but Phone Experts does and they provide a “managed system” without the added risks and quality concerns of a full cloud solution. Accountants, CFO’s etc. seem to like this arrangement as the entire monthly amount is on a single bill and is 100 per cent a write of as an opex item as far as accounting is concerned. Capital spending can be limited to the installation and training or completely bundled into the monthly costs for capital spending avoidance.

Full Public Cloud Telecom (Hosted)

The current trend in full swing now is the full cloud solution provided by a myriad of providers and venders and resellers. Everyone has to have a cloud solution to be in the game. The concept is that you have minimal equipment on your site, so no full blown telephone system box or appliance. The concept is a bundled monthly service with features and voicemail for a per user fee which normally includes North American long distance and your cloud based phone lines. If you are not in a contract already you can choose which cloud vendor best fits your needs. Cloud companies usually offer both over the top or dedicated circuits to connect your phone service over. If you use existing bandwidth make sure some type of testing is done to see if it is up to the task. Some cloud vendors include the hardware and others request that you still purchase or lease the hardware, installation and training. This current trend is targeted at simpler and opex based thinking. You want to be the user of the technology not the owner of the technology but remember many want you to purchase the phones and smart phone clients anyway. This can be a workable solution for retail and multi-site companies that do not have great IT support but you still need a network that supports Voice over IP well in order to have a good experience. Smaller SMB customers seriously consider this option because 8 phones @ $35-45.00 per month might make sense if the quality of the service is business quality and the connections are reliable.

Private Cloud

Cloud really means operating on someone’s servers from someone else’s data centre somewhere else. Public cloud is just that, a shared public offering where economy of scale favours lower prices and mass feature adaption using a smaller sub-set compared to a premise system in most cases. Private Cloud means making the arrangement for renting servers or providing servers into a third party data centre or co-location or operating out of the business data centre using software. This is the model that makes most sense to larger organizations that would have massive monthly billing if configured by the user in the public cloud. As ab example, 250 users times $35.00 per month equals an $8,750.00 per month plus taxes and extras adding up to over half a million over 5 years on a monthly subscription on a 5 year contract. Customers often have VMware or Hyper-V environments on virtualized servers with resiliency and capacity to run the cloud voice as an application. It can control this and manage the system like other applications.
Cloud – Hybrid
Just as it sounds, the cloud- hybrid usually has the head office and larger locations on private cloud and the smaller branch sites in the public cloud and the two are integrated together to work as a single system. This is a growing trend and one that makes sense to control cloud reoccurring costs for the offices with a large number of users while the smaller sites use the monthly billing all-in model for their services.

Summary

In the end you need to consider what you have as a business, your appetite for risk, the features you need, that they are actually supported and will it all work reliably as a great reflection of your business and your concern for your customers and staff. The best thing you can do is work with an experienced telecom professional to help you work through the requirements and what is available to best suit them and why. Check your references as it may all sound great but if it does not really deliver, well you have a mess and nobody wants that. My 35 years in the business and constantly adapting to the new trends has taught me one thing- do your homework and work with someone you trust to know the gotchas. You can go it alone doing on-line “research” but the search engine expert does not always get the behind the scenes truths but rather the marketing spin from someone who has paid to be at the top of the search list. Not always the winning approach for your business communications. Find your own Phone Expert – you will be happy you did.

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