Over the past couple of decades, cloud-hosting has gained popularity.
Many smartphone users take advantage of cloud platforms to store photos or save their contacts. When it comes to files, you might use Google Drive or Dropbox to have a virtual backup.
All of this is possible with cloud-storage. This technology uses the infrastructure of your provider (iCloud, Google, Dropbox) to store data.
Cloud storage can also be used on a larger scale to host components of a business’s IT system.
At The KR Group, one of the ways our customers take advantage of cloud-hosting is with their phone systems.
What is cloud hosting for collaboration?
Cloud hosting provides an alternative to these systems. Cloud hosting for collaboration uses the same technology as other cloud-hosted computing systems, with additional infrastructure to handle public switched telephone network (PSTN) capabilities.
Your provider stores your collaboration data and leverages their servers and gateways for your cloud-hosted system. You then use a secure internet connection to access it.
This means aside from the physical phones, all of the equipment and devices are handled by your provider.
Even though your collaboration system isn’t physically in your office like it would be with an on-premises option, you’ll have the same functionality.
If you’re looking to support a remote workforce or reduce your IT infrastructure footprint, cloud-hosted calling is likely worth considering, and there are some specific benefits to choosing cloud-hosted collaboration.
Some of the benefits we like to highlight when talking to our customers about hosted collaboration include:
- There’s no PBX infrastructure to maintain.
- You can make calls anywhere with a working internet connection.
- You’ll have seamless integration between devices.
- Pricing is predictable.
Reviewing these features and asking if they appeal to your business is also a good way to determine if cloud-based collaboration makes sense for your business.
No infrastructure to maintain
The most obvious benefit of cloud-based collaboration systems is the lack of equipment to maintain.
Since your collaboration system is hosted on the provider’s infrastructure, your provider will be responsible for the infrastructure.
As a customer, this means you won’t need server hardware or voice gateways for your collaboration system.
Since you don’t have on-premises IT infrastructure, you also don’t need to worry about ongoing support and maintenance for equipment. There will be no more upgrades or migrations and no more end-of-life hardware to replace.
Make calls anywhere with a working internet connection
While you don’t need devices like servers and gateways to power your cloud-based collaboration, you do need an internet connection. Ideally, you should have some form of redundancy for the connection as well.
Without having to worry about infrastructure, you should focus on a quality connection, such as fiber internet.
This will provide the best experience since an internet connection is what powers your side of the cloud collaboration system.
The beauty of a hosted voice system is you can use it anywhere you have an internet connection. In a pinch, even LTE will work.
There are multiple types of internet connections, including DSL, coax, satellite, and fiber, as well as older technologies like T1 circuits. Whenever possible, Cisco collaboration partners recommend fiber, though, because of its combined stability and speed.
Seamless integration between desktop and mobile devices
The versatility of hosted voice goes beyond being able to use any (stable) internet connection.
You’re also able to use hosted voice applications on your smartphone or tablet in addition to your laptop or desktop.
Most hosted voice platforms have desktop and mobile applications. Good platforms seamlessly integrate between the two.
For example, if you’re using the instant messaging application on your desktop, it will be simultaneously updating on your smartphone. You’ll be able to switch between the two without missing any messages.
A benefit of cloud hosting is being able to know how much you’ll pay. Most hosted voice platforms operate on a per-user basis and are charged as such.
A common pricing model is a flat fee per month per phone number. Most providers incorporate unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, taxes, fees, and enhanced 911 compatibility.
On the budgeting side, since you know how many users you have, you shouldn’t have any surprises on your monthly bill.
The recurring fee also allows you to consider this portion of your IT an operational expense, not a capital expense.
All in all, hosted voice is fairly straightforward to purchase.
Trying cloud-hosted calling
If you’re looking to move away from on-premises infrastructure, want the ability to make calls anywhere, and know how much you’ll pay every month, it’s likely that cloud-hosted collaboration is a good match for you.
These benefits are especially helpful if you’re trying to quickly enable calling for employees working from home or want to add calling capabilities to a satellite office without purchasing additional infrastructure.
If you’re used to on-premises collaboration, even though you know all the benefits, you might still hesitate to jump into a different type of hosting.
There are a couple of solutions to this.
1. Flexible hosting plan
If you’re not ready to fully commit to cloud-based hosting or want to incrementally transition from on-premises to the cloud, you can look into hosting plans that allow you to do both.
2. Find a free trial
As a Cisco partner, the cloud-based hosting we work with is Webex Calling. They are aware of their customers’ hesitation and address it by providing a free trial.
Working with a Cisco partner, you can set up a trial for 30, 60, or 90 days.
This trial is fully functional, meaning it comes with the same feature set as a paid subscription.
For the 30 to 90 days where you are exploring Webex Calling, you have access to all of the calling services and the Webex Teams app. Cisco will even loan you IP phones (in limited quantities) to use with your trial. Of course, these must be returned or paid for at the end of your trial.
If you do decide to purchase Webex Calling licenses after the end of your trial, it seamlessly transitions to the permanent version without you needing to reconfigure anything.
If you want to lease equipment or have multiple employees sign up for a free trial, you’ll need to work with a Cisco partner.