What is Cloud Communications?

cloud communicationsWe talk about “THE CLOUD” all the time, but what exactly does that mean? Like clouds themselves, “the cloud” is something beyond our reach that we may not understand completely.

By definition, the cloud is a network of servers that are hosted by a third-party and can be accessed from anywhere via the Internet.

So cloud communications are any communication services and applications that are hosted by a third-party and accessed via Internet.

Cloud telephony is rapidly replacing traditional telephony and has many benefits to business. From price to features to scalability, cloud or hosted are great options for all kinds of businesses and organizations.

Learn about a real Cloud Communications solution on our products page.

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5 Steps to Migrating from Legacy to VoIP

While VoIP has been around and available for over a decade, many businesses have yet to make the jump from a Legacy Telephony System to VoIP. Legacy Systems were a significant investment and were expected to last, so many businesses are hesitant to abandon them for the newest trend. However, VoIP is quickly becoming the mainstream choice in the world of business telephony, so it is time to take the leap.

Fortunately Ziff Davis wrote a guide that will walk you through the process step-by-step: Migrating Your Business to VoIP: Five Key Success Factors. We outline those steps for you below:

  1. RECOGNIZE THIS IS A JOURNEY

    The first step to transitioning from Legacy to VoIP is simply understanding that VoIP is constantly evolving and preparing yourself for constant change. But recognize that this change is not a bad thing; on the contrary, it means ever improving service and increased features. Moving to VoIP will entail some risks but we are confident that the benefits outweigh any roadblocks along the way.

  2. ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF 3 STAKEHOLDER GROUPS

    Once you are prepared to begin the journey of VoIP, your company must define its goals.  VoIP will impact three major players in your business and each can potentially benefit:a) Employees – Your employees will be the primary users. VoIP can increase their efficiency and effectiveness. For example, VoIP features like a softphone will encourage employees to quickly and efficiently communicate with coworkers or clients.

    b) Executives – The ultimate decisions will be made by the company executives. Points of interest to them will be the cost-effectiveness of VoIP, the increased worker productivity, and the ability to integrate the telephony system into a complete Unified Communications solution.

    c) IT – Company techs will be responsible for the VoIP system. They will enjoy the fact that VoIP is more user-friendly and most features and updates will not require their assistance, freeing up time for other matters.

  3.  CHOOSE THE RIGHT DEPLOYMENT MODEL

    VoIP gives you three deployment options:a) Premise – This is basically a continuation of your legacy system. It would mean a smaller change and more control of your system, but is more expensive and requires a comprehensive IT team.

    b) Cloud – The opposite of a premise system, a cloud system would save money by outsourcing management or hosting. This option is becoming more common as the cloud gains popularity.

    c) Hybrid – A hybrid system combines the best of both premise and cloud. A company that is not ready to part with its legacy system may choose a hybrid solution that will VoIP-enable their older system.

  4.  CHOOSE THE RIGHT VENDOR

    The next step is deciding whether to continue with your Legacy provider or shop around for a new provider. If you have a positive business relationship with your current provider and they offer an enticing and affordable VoIP transition plan, that may be the best option.However this may be the time to move on to a smaller company that is more specifically suited to your company’s needs. Nowadays you will find many options, even outside the world of telephony.

  5.  PREPARE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

    The move to VoIP will be a big change and your company must be prepared.Step 1 – Review your phone system contract and determine whether you can replace your telephones and system.

    Step 2 – Create a timeline with specific goals and targets. Assign responsibilities to specific people.

    Step 3 – Perform a network assessment to decide if your system is ready for VoIP. This will also help in the decision between Premise or Cloud.

    Step 4 – Determine what will change for your employees and prepare them for those changes.

    Step 5 – Test the new system with a specific group of users to ensure it is working as promised, particularly during busy times.

Transitioning to VoIP may sound like a daunting task, but thousands of companies have made a successful transition with great benefits in the short and long term.

Want to read more? Check out Migrating Your Business to VoIP: Five Key Success Factors from Ziff Davis.

5 Benefits of Hosted VoIP (Cloud VoIP)

cloud voipAs companies today make the move to VoIP telephony, they are faced with two options: Premise or Cloud.

While premise is a popular option because it is similar to legacy systems and gives more control to the company, Hosted VoIP offers several benefits to SMBs.

Ziff Davis shares give benefits of Hosted VoIP in Five Implications that make Hosted VoIP Good for your Business. We outline those benefits below.

  1. SIZE DOESN’T MATTER – ANYONE CAN DO IT

    While bigger often has the advantages in business, Hosted VoIP levels the playing field and represents an opportunity that even the smallest business can deploy.

    A Hosted VoIP system means that a third party is taking care of most aspects of the communications system like managing, maintaining, troubleshooting, etc. SMBs that do not have extensive IT abilities will still be able to use the system.

  2. YOU’LL GET CLOSER TO YOUR CUSTOMER

    While legacy systems were primarily focused on giving employees a means of internal communication, VoIP opens the doors to customers on the outside. Hosted VoIP offers extensive features such as softphones, video calls, chat, and mobile. These open up the lines of communication with customers and ensure their satisfaction. While this is plausible with premise VoIP as well, it would require a comprehensive IT team to carry it out.

  3. YOU’LL GET MORE LEVERAGE AS A CUSTOMER FOR TELEPHONY

    The Hosted VoIP market is a consumer’s market that boasts several choices. Legacy systems were not built for SMBs and required costly investments for a less-than-ideal products. Hosted VoIP, on the other hand, is available in many different packages with varied prices and features. SMBs can shop around and choose a provider that meets their needs and budget.

  4. CLOUD IS A BETTER BUSINESS MODEL FOR VOIP

    Hosted VoIP provides a better model for SMBs that are on a budget. Expenditures are reduced via a lesser initial investment and lower usage costs. Monthly fees are a fixed rate that fit into SMBs budgets.Additionally, Cloud VoIP means more reliable service that is not susceptible to local weather conditions or power outages. Employees can work from home or anywhere with an Internet connection.

  5. GROWTH-FRIENDLY FOR YOUR BUSINESS

    Hosted VoIP is a good decision for long-term growth. While legacy systems were an investment, they did not drive growth or improve with time. Hosted VoIP can scale and evolve at a low cost as the company grows. It is simple to add new offices or work-from-home employees.

In summary, Hosted VoIP can do so much more for SMBs than simply save money. To read more, visit Five Implications that make Hosted VoIP Good for your Business from Ziff Davis.

3 Steps to Testing Hosted VoIP Systems

cloud telephony

Is your company upgrading to a Hosted VoIP Phone System? With the clear financial and functionality benefits it probably was not difficult to reach that decision. But narrowing your options and making a final choice is more difficult.

Use this simple 3 step test from Ziff Davis to compare your three favorite vendors.  Continue reading