VOIP systems are increasingly popular in digitally-driven businesses, and offer huge advantages in the way of cost savings, improved efficiency, and offering an overall better customer and employee experience. Buying a VoIP telecoms system however can be challenging, and one of the first things your organisation will need to decide is whether a premises-based solution or cloud-hosted system suits your business best. As with most other business technologies, there's more than one way to accomplish your goals, and there isn't necessarily always an obviously right or wrong answer. Making the best decision is more a question of understanding your business's objectives, operating capabilities and finding a product that matches these with your service level preferences and budgetary limitations.
Getting started: Installation and Maintenance
An on-premises system relies on the costly installation of equipment and software at a business's physical location. It is typically managed by members of the company's own staff. In a hosted VoIP model, on the other hand, all systems are hosted and maintained by a third-party provider. In the premises-based model, it's your own team's job to procure, install and maintain the hardware and software used to provide the service. This makes on-premises systems a much easier sell for large businesses that are well resourced to take on these extra costs and challenges. Complete responsibility also means complete control, and enterprises who favour the on-premises option are often rewarded handsomely - as they can design their systems perfectly for their needs, as well as avoid the eventual, inevitable fee increases and a lower total cost of ownership as their system grows with the company. In a cloud-hosted model, all hardware and software upgrades are taken on by your VoIP provider, who naturally has a vested interest in ensuring your business is getting the most convenient suite of services possible. But such convenience also comes with drawbacks. Responsiveness and agility are affected, since all support requests must now be channelled to the provider's support team rather than your own. And while smaller companies would likely be willing to sacrifice a small amount of speed for overwhelming convenience, others may be unwilling to make such sacrifices, and instead opt for an on-premises solution.
Moving on Up: Scalability
At some point in your business's growth, you'll likely need to scale up your systems to support more users or a new business initiative. This is where hosted VoIP solutions are at their best. Cloud-hosted VoIP is typically ready at the drop of a hat to grant your business increased resources and capacity. So, businesses who are anticipating rapid growth should carefully consider not only which option is most practical at the outset, but which will continue to be practical for years into the future.
Keeping it Under Lock and Key: Security
Business's misplaced skittishness around cloud security remains, but is the risk really all that high today? Not as high as we've been led to believe. The public cloud excels in two critical security areas: information resilience and privacy. Chances are, no matter how large your enterprise, reputable cloud providers are better equipped to handle cloud security than you are. Their very reputations depend on maintaining the most stringent security measures, so you can rest assured that vulnerabilities are constantly being identified and patched for even greater protection. The cloud also reduces the surface area for attacks to penetrate, because cloud entry points are well defined, and extremely well protected, often involving multi-factor authentication, limited-time restricted access and other extremely advanced protection tools.
It's all about ensuring the solution you eventually decide on is fit-for-purpose. Smaller businesses exploring VoIP for the first time are best suited to cloud-hosted solutions, until they grow to such a size that investing in on-premises infrastructure (and hiring the personnel needed to run it effectively) becomes a viable option. But large enterprises that require higher levels of customisability and better control might find that it makes more sense to invest in on-premises solutions that fit their needs more closely. This will vary with the nature and needs of the organisation, so the most important aspect of making the call on VoIP is to be sure to do your homework before taking the plunge.
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