Essentially, a cloud or hosted (or cloud-hosted) PBX is a business telephone system without the traditional copper landline. A cloud hosted PBX system uses off-site data centre hosting rather than in-house PBX equipment, and is powered and managed through the internet. The biggest benefit of this system, is that it offers significantly more modern features than a traditional office phone solution, but doesn’t require the technical expertise on-site. With a hosted PBX system, everything can be easily set up and coordinated with an off-site technician, who will handle all the logistics and backend operations of the hosted switchboard system, including initial setup and ongoing maintenance.
Defining the Jargon
Given the number of interchangeable terms that are used to describe a cloud hosted PBX system, it’s no wonder there is confusion on what this system actually is. There are many terms used for cloud-based telephony systems, such as virtual receptionist or switchboard; cloud phone system; business phone system; and virtual PABX or PBX. While the jargon can seem confusing, these terms all essentially refer to the same thing, which is the concept of an internet-based telephone solution.
PBX is a term that has been around for decades and was originally defined with the development of the first multi-line office phone systems. It stands for Private Branch Exchange and allows for routing and transferring calls to a number of extensions and departments throughout a business. While traditional PBX installations have to be scaled according to business size at the date of installation, cloud-based solutions offer much more flexibility, which makes them more affordable to implement.
Although the term “cloud” is commonly used in everyday internet language, some people still aren’t entirely sure of its meaning. The cloud is simply a reference to virtual storage accessed via the internet. The operational server is typically located in a secure datacentre. Almost every modern computer service runs on the cloud these days, including your personal email and smartphone backup.
How Does a Hosted Phone System Work?
The functionality of a cloud hosted telephone system is much the same as a traditional business PBX system, except that it is powered and managed through the internet. The fundamental difference is moving from a traditional copper line, to a fibre (broadband internet) connection to your premises.
When a call is placed to a business phone that is on a hosted phone system, this call is routed to the data centre that stores the servers and equipment to operate the system i.e. the system answers the call and routes it accordingly through the server. Once the endpoint is determined, such as when someone dials an extension for a specific office, the system will transmit the call to the specified user via VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). One of the flexible features of a cloud hosted PBX system, is that the call can be answered in the office just like a traditional desktop office phone, or it can be received on a mobile phone, tablet, or computer. While the above may appear complicated, it all occurs behind the scenes and appears to the user as seamless and intuitive as a traditional PBX phone system.
A cloud-based telephone solution truly is the most flexible business telephone solution, allowing to you make and receive calls from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection. The recipient of the calls will be none the wiser as to whether you are at your desk, on a train, or working from home.
Why Should my Business Consider Moving to a Cloud Hosted PBX System?
Flexible working terms are becoming more attractive to employees, who want to be able to work from home, or while travelling. As an employer, you want to offer employees mobility whilst ensuring they are contactable. Cloud telephone systems offer a mobile voice solution, whereby you can use your smartphone as an extension of a cloud hosted telephone system, from anywhere in the world, with no additional hardware. You can make and receive calls using your office number or extension, transfer calls to colleagues, and initiate conference calls.
Cloud hosted telephone solutions also minimise risks to business continuity. If your exchange is hosted in-house, you have to deal with the risk of potential interruptions to service, including internet outages and incidents on site that could damage the equipment. Cloud telephone systems make use of dedicated off-site hosting facilities, which have advanced disaster recovery procedures and offer better protection from potential threats to what you can offer in your office.
Advantages of Cloud PBX Systems
Although there a large number of benefits of a cloud-hosted PBX, the biggest draw for most companies are what many consider the four main components that set cloud services apart from traditional PABX systems:
Implementing cloud PBX systems can reduce business telephony costs by as much as 75% for some clients. Even small businesses with low call traffic can still see savings of more than 25%. Since the only hardware cost to your business comes from physical desktop or mobile phones, the total cost of ownership is quite low with these hosted systems. Furthermore, their scalability reduces a lot of upfront and ongoing costs.
Companies save money, space, and technical expertise by taking the hardware off-site, and delegating the headache of management to a dedicated provider. It also offers flexible options for businesses that may need custom phone solutions, as you can opt to forego desktop phones and have any or all incoming business calls routed directly to your employees’ mobile devices. This not only saves money but offers your employees more flexible working solutions. Additionally, upgrades and new feature implementations will be added immediately since everything is running on the internet.
The Disadvantages of Cloud PBX Systems
There are only a handful of noteworthy disadvantages of using a cloud-hosted switchboard, and both can easily be mediated with appropriate measures. If the correct services, tools and features are implemented, there is no downside for your business.
The primary concern for many users is the security risk associated with VoIP and cloud hosting, due to their virtual nature. However, reputable cloud PBX service providers will include secure, privacy-enabled solutions for every business need.
Another common complaint concerns call quality, however this is directly related to the internet connection to your business premises. If you are thinking of switching to cloud-hosted services, first make sure that you have a high-speed, reliable internet connection. This will ensure the best quality for your calls and will avoid the frustration of dropped calls. While hosted communications systems are much more advanced than their on-site predecessors, you still have to give them the best tools, and a strong, reliable internet connection is essential.
Top FAQs for Cloud Phone Systems
Can I keep my existing telephone number?
Yes, any business in the United Kingdom can keep their existing telephone number when switching to a cloud hosted office phone system. One of the biggest needs of a business is retaining communication links with existing or prospective clients. A common misconception about cloud hosted PBX systems is that you require a new phone and a new telephone number. With number porting, you can keep your existing landline, office or mobile number when switching to a cloud based system. This means that your clients will still be able to reach you on the number that you have now, and that you do not need to reprint business cards or update company contact lists and e-mail signatures. Another benefit of number porting is that it can be done more than once, so if your business premises move in the future, you will still retain your telephone number
What happens if I am not in the office to receive calls?
All incoming calls will be received on your chosen device – be it a laptop, PC, tablet or smartphone. Callers will not have to endure arduous re-directed calls, and you will not have to carry those cost of redirected calls.
What are the biggest benefits of a cloud telephone system?
Cloud hosted telephone systems can reduce business telephony costs by as much as 75%. Even small businesses with low call traffic can still see savings of more than 25%.
There are a number of attractive advantages of a cloud telephone system that could benefit your business. There is no switchboard or hardware for you to house, set up, maintain or replace, and all updates are done automatically and remotely. Additionally, the service can be customised to include any advanced features and integration options that you need for growing your business, all of which can be viewed and managed online.
Read more about the benefits of a cloud telephone system.
How many users can a cloud telephone system support?
Cloud hosted telephone systems are suitable for companies of all sizes, offering the same benefits to single users and corporates with 1000+ users.
How quickly can a cloud hosted phone system be implemented?
If the site is ready, we can deploy the hosted switchboard system within 24 hours. Note that this is subject to feasibility and is dependent on whether connectivity is required.
What will it cost me?With a hosted solution, you do not need to buy hardware. The means that your upfront investment in a business telephone system is substantially reduced. The monthly rental cost starts at R65 per extension per month. In some cases, a once-off setup cost may be applicable. Read more about plans and pricing details.
Are there ongoing cost savings?The most evident ongoing cost saving is due to the lower call cost of a cloud telephone system, with a call cost saving of up to 30%.
Cloud telephone systems are scalable, meaning that you can easily add additional users online. This scalability also reduces a lot of upfront and ongoing costs.
Additionally, there are ongoing hardware and maintenance savings. The hardware powering the cloud telephone system is housed in a dedicated data centre, and is maintained and replaced by your hosting provider. The hosting provider takes full financial responsibility for the hardware – you only pay a monthly fee to use their hosting service.
Do I need to replace my current desktop phone or mobile phone?No. Cloud telephone systems are compatible with a range of leading desktop IP phones, unless they are analogue phones. If you have existing IP desk phones, you can check compatible IP phones or contact us and we will confirm if they are compatible with our telephone system.
Your smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC can become your office phone with a simple application, even if this is a personal (not company issued) device.
What happens when technology fails?Customers inevitably have a fear of moving away from the known comfort of a physical landline. In the past, you would have had a single incoming a copper landline to your business i.e one point of failure. This means that if something happens to that copper line, your whole business telecommunications system shuts down. A cloud telephone system makes use of an incoming fibre (internet) line to your business. With the new technology, you are less vulnerable. If something happens to the fibre line, you can still continue with your same office telephone number, using your mobile phone or by moving to a Wi-Fi zone. On top of this, the hosting facilities themselves make use of multiple in and outbound lines, or multiple points of failure.
Can I set up a “virtual switchboard” receptionist to forward calls to the relevant department?Yes, a cloud telephone system offers a virtual attendant feature to ensure calls are answered and directed to the correct office or department, so that your customers receive a consistent service. You can also customise the auto attendant to include special messages to assist customers with common queries, or provide further guidance between departmental transfers.
How quickly can a cloud hosted phone system be implemented?If the site is ready, we can deploy the hosted switchboard system within 24 hours. Note that this is subject to feasibility and is dependent on whether connectivity is required.
What are the features of cloud hosted phone system?The versatility and available features that come with a cloud-based switchboard system are welcomed by businesses of all sizes. There is a broad range of available features, including:
- A virtual attendant to answer and route all incoming calls
- Call groups
- Call recording and live monitoring
- Voicemail and voicemail transcription
- Online interface
- Automated call distribution
- Call queues
- Call barging and whisper features
- Analytics, reporting, and other tools
The Bottom Line
Cloud hosted PBX solutions offer a range of benefits for any modern business that needs more flexibility in its office phone system offerings. The benefit of flexible, scalable solutions with fewer expenses and hardware requirements is what drives most businesses to switch to cloud hosting.
With a better understanding of the basics of these systems, it should be easier for you to determine what best suits your business needs. To learn more about a cloud hosted PBX and what it can do for your business, speak to one of our specialists today by calling 020 3399 8011 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team is looking forward to answering your questions and providing you with a no-obligation, hassle-free quote on a cloud hosted PBX solution for your business.