A revolution has been taking place in the IT industry with more and more businesses moving their internal services (such as email, file storage and specialised applications) into the “cloud”. It was inevitable that the same would occur with telephone systems for exactly the same reasons:
- Reduced “total cost of ownership”: removing or reducing spending on purchasing and maintaining local hardware.
- High reliability: The servers are housed in specialised data centres with high reliability connections to the internet, server redundancy, power backup, sophisticated security systems.
- Ease of access: it no longer matters where you are as long as you have an internet connection – all services are accessible. It is as easy to have a phone in your home as in the office.
- Fast upgrade cycle: New features are added to the systems all the time to keep them competitive – this is in contrast to a local system, which is usually expensive and complicated to upgrade (and so is often only done if absolutely required).
- Interconnectedness: Services in the cloud are easily connected with other cloud services – services such as Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
- Open Systems: The access devices (telephone handsets) are usually not tied to any particular central system, resulting in increased competition between manufacturers. There is no “lock-in”, requiring a change to one to be reflected in a change to the other.
With the rise of IP-Telephony, unfortunately many traditional telephone system suppliers are entering this market using their standard model – namely selling (and usually financing) a complete proprietary local system over a multi-year contract – sometimes this is even tied to providing the phone lines. This results in reduced flexibility for the clients – any changes must be made to the existing system (at whatever price they charge) or replace the entire system. Typically these changes require a site visit from a technician.