Hosted Phone System or On Premises
Office phone systems have changed drastically over the past decade. The old-style TDM phone systems are impossible to get and hard even to maintain. The up-to-date office uses VoIP. This leaves your business with an important choice, though: Will you keep your own hardware on the premises or use a hosting service? The right answer depends on the size and needs of your business.
The case for an on-premise system
The ideal situation for an on-premise exchange is a moderate to large company with a single location and a high usage volume. It can get economies of scale with a one-time investment in hardware to support all its phones. After that, the only costs are maintaining the system and getting new phones as necessary. You can add as many phones as you want, subject to network capacity.
The device that runs your exchange can be a dedicated IP PBX box, or just an ordinary computer with the necessary software. The phones can run on the office LAN, but having a separate VoIP network helps to keep the quality of service consistent.
If you need new features, you can simply add them to your on-premises system. Lots of software choices are available.
If a hosting company goes out of business or can no longer provide you with service, you can lose your phone service. If it raises its prices drastically, changing options can be inconvenient. Running the phones on your own hardware guards against these possibilities.
Someone with the appropriate skills will have to manage the IP PBX. Either an in-house staff or a managed services company (such as BWS Technologies) can do the job. Having a dedicated management team can save headaches when troubleshooting problems or upgrading the system.
The case for a hosted system
However, there are a lot of cases where a hosted approach makes more sense. For smaller businesses, maintaining in-house hardware can be an annoying burden. A business with multiple geographic locations will need to do extra work to tie them all together in a single self-hosted exchange.
The hosted approach offers a lot of convenience. Instead of having to buy or lease dedicated equipment, you pay a monthly fee to the hosting company. Payment plans differ in many ways, so you have to look carefully to figure out what hosting will cost you. There’s often a setup fee, and the cost will depend on the number of lines you need. Direct inward dialing and toll-free numbers are extras you might need.
Multiple geographic sites aren’t a problem, since they’re all connected to the same host. Likewise, relocating lines when employees move to a different building is easy, and so is setting up telecommuting. All of these sites can use the same public number, even if they’re physically in different area codes.
A hosted service saves you the management headaches of an in-house system. You can request upgrades without having to install software. A well-run hosting service keeps fallback systems, so the failure of one machine won’t take your phone service down.
You can buy a metered plan or an unlimited one. An unlimited plan makes costs more predictable, but a metered one will be more cost-effective if you don’t have a high call volume.
Whether you use on-premises or hosted service, you need to have enough network capacity to carry all the voice traffic without degrading. If your business expands, you may find it necessary to upgrade your Internet connection or local network.
Which way to go?
When adding a new phone exchange to a business, it’s important to consider all options, and to make the best possible choice whether you opt for an in-house or hosted system. At BWS Technologies, we can help you to make that choice, get it running, and keep it working. Please contact us to learn more.