Making Sense of the Options: Hosted vs. Cloud vs. On-Premises Solutions

Making Sense of the Options: Panel DiscussionEverybody loves options, but nobody likes confusion - unfortunately these two come in pairs from time to time. This panel discussion grappled with the reasons for that disorientation, and the way in which providers are working hard to combat this from occurring. Sharing their valuable insights were representatives from OpenText, Vitely Communications, Tadiran, Ringcentral, and Gartner. Consistent with our last entry, there was a lot of overlap regarding security measures and the level of control relegated to subscribers. The name of the panel might give the impression this was overly ambitious for a 45-minute session, though the focus was more holistic in nature.

Nature of Migration:

  • Hosted services are increasingly desired as a "value add" - cost is key
  • There is currently a combination of customers with on-premise equipment looking to make the move to dedicated legacy PBX systems.
  • Following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it took weeks for companies to recover due to improper facilities. This set many businesses back months in some cases, putting a damper on the hosted/cloud model for some. However, this is not accurate of all providers, who were able to endure and preserve service throughout.  

Common Points in Cloud Transition:

  • A cross-section of the panel noted the success of cloud implementation for a number of reasons, mainly in it rarely, if ever requires a site visit.
  • Building tools in 'wizards' and comprehensive support portals turn the initiative into a friendly, step-by-step process if outlined and executed correctly.
  • Assigning project management teams, coordinates can creates order to platform migration - a proven and effective means in getting subscribers up and running, not to mention keeping them that way.

Where the System/Customer Fails or Faulters:

  • A gross lack of planning and inquisition generally comes with local number portability. Although most services can be provision is a matter of seconds or minutes, this is the greatest hindrance to business operations, and a way in which many decision makers shoot themselves in the foot.
  • As there is no distinct timeline (ranging from a couple days to a couple months), planning a deployment involves talking to the carrier in advance to find out how long the port is going to take. 
  • Request an estimate from your provider (even though it may prove futile or inaccurate) - it's worth it no matter the outcome. A general idea along with a strategic approach is pinnacle to making the process seamless, and most of all, could be the difference between being without your number and losing business in spite of your own porting indiscretion.

Role of Portals

  • Not to be overlooked is the fact that portals are more than an area to manage your phone system - they are an invaluable self-education tool.
  • Knowledge-based Wiki Sessions, specific portals for web management, and other role-based portals are an effective means of providing better experience and more cost effective solution. After all, many SMBs are concerned with "how it works, rather than what it does"

Security:

  • A mixture of customer awareness and provider monitoring yields the greatest amount of success. RingCentral's Jose Pastor, VP of product management, added the parallel between "locking your door at night" and ensuring "security on the internet" - a virtual host of your intangible belongings.
  • RingCentral uses proactive monitoring to report abnormal behavior, control fraud, and reduce risk. Compare it to your bank calling you to ascertain if everything's fine and confirm a suspicious charge
  • Likewise, a lot of responsibility falls back on the customer - eliminate all default passwords thoroughly, and replace them with complex, user designed ones
  • Kerry Garrison of Vitaly Communications touched upon the fact Trixbox CE was susceptible to attacks following stagnancy for some time - consumers need to be aware of things like this before it becomes too late.

QoS:

  • In many respects, quality of service isn't so different in that it requires proactive monitoring - real-time tools to measure delay, jitter, and packet loss. RingCentral goes the length of physically sending out 'pros' to find out why hindrances to voice service like this might be occurring.
  • Corrective measures are necessary, especially in areas with constrained internet speed and high usage - packet prioritization must be geared towards voice in all instances.

The discussion answered a lot of looming questions involved in the transition to cloud and hosted services, along with the what customers and providers can do to help their own causes. With each successive Expo, it is becoming apparent that many service providers are developing a firm handle on where things have been, and consequently, where they are going. Other key points from this discussion involved the growing favor of taking your extension with you, via a mobile device. This presents a new set of challenges, and with success, a boundless, untethered privilege for consumers. It's truly an exciting time for VoIP & UC, as 'making sense of the options' available paves a path for better business & communications. It's a learning process for everyone that brings great value in the long-run, and I'm personally thrilled that it's shaping up so nicely.

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