Cost Advantage of Enterprise Cloud Communications
New hosted services let converged IP networks move unified business telephony to the cloud.
By: John Shepler
Cloud computing has been in the headlines as the next generation of information technology. What’s breaking out now is cloud communications, a move to make telephony as well as number crunching and file serving available as cloud services.
Ancient Origins of Cloud Communications
In an odd way, what’s new is old. The origin of telephone services is in a cloud called the PSTN or Public Switched Telephone Network. Your basic phone is simply a client that derives its functionality from the massive telco switching network.
The Advent of PBX
Then came in-house phone systems in the form of key telephone systems and PBX or Private Branch Exchange systems. These are essentially small phone companies that you own and maintain. All calls within the company stay on the internal system. It’s only when you need connectivity to the outside world that you have to rejoin the PSTN.
Back To The Cloud With IP
Telephone services are now moving back to the cloud, but with a difference. This time it's IP communications rather than switched circuits. It’s also not about a monolithic public network but private networking services with competitive features that go way beyond what the original telephone network was engineered to provide.
What's Behind Hosted PBX
The new cloud communications offerings also go by the title of hosted PBX. The idea is that it is more efficient to establish a large IP switching center with a dedicated expert staff than for every business to be its own telephone company. The business users need only have the telephone handsets, speakerphone and similar desk equipment connected to their local networks. The large, expensive and hard to maintain switch moves out to the cloud.
Why The Cloud Makes Sense
Therein lies the key to cloud communications. It’s the rise of converged IP networks to handle voice, video and data, replacing separate dedicated networks for each. Once you’ve installed SIP phones on your LAN, it seems a bit inefficient to send that traffic to an in-house IP PBX system that connects to the PSTN with specialized analog and digital trunk lines. Why not keep all of the traffic on the converged network as long as possible?
Ideal For Multiple Locations
The enterprise cloud communications model works especially well for companies with more than one business location. You can tie your headquarters, regional offices and branches together as if they were ina single large facility. The converged WAN network give you all the standard calling features you expect in an enterprise telephone system plus high definition video conferencing and the ability to include mobile phones in a unified communications system. These communications services are usually priced on a per-seat-per-month basis, so you only pay for what you use.
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