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Considerations before moving to hosted VoIP

Will Wood Blog

Should I go Hosted VoIP/Hosted UC?

…This is a question we hear every day of the week.

Hosted VoIP/UC providers do a great job of telling you all the benefits and brainwashing people into thinking it’s the only way forward, but not discussing the downsides.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that we at Datasharp are agnostic, as we have 7 VoIP capable platforms in our portfolio, which can be installed in a range of hosted, virtualised, physical and distributed environments.  Each install is based on every customer’s unique set of requirements.

However, to even things out and set the record straight, we’ve put together the below considerations before moving to hosted VoIP.

Negatives:

  1. Most hosted systems use 3rd-party SIP handsets. Not all, but most.
    • Less functionality
    • Generally do a 2 minute reset every time you reprogram a button
    • Can be a square peg in a round hole
    • Lack of consistency from the supplier
    • What happens if handset manufacturer drops support of those handsets
  2. You have no say about upgrades
    • These will happen around you at the host’s will, which might conflict with your operating hours or cause compatibility issues with other software (e.g. Outlook)
    • You have no ability to roll-back to previous versions
  3. Cost remains constant
    • “Why is this a negative” I hear you cry? Whilst the cost model for hosted systems is simple, it will continue for as long as you take the service.  However, if you purchase or lease a UC system, the cost drops off a cliff once the initial investment is written off, leaving you with just residual support and line rental charges.
    • If you look at the total cost of ownership over 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years, it’s much higher if you’re using a ‘good’ hosted UC system vs a ‘very good’ private UC system.
  4. Connecting 3rd-party or analogue devices
    • If you look at the ‘supported models’ of handsets and devices from a hosted UC provider, it will be limited.
    • What happens if you want to connect a site paging system, or IP conference phone, or SIP doorphone, or Video Conferencing platform to it?
    • Generally, you’ll just get a ‘no’.  Whereas on your own system, pretty much any open-standards device can be connected.
  5. If it sounds too cheap – there’s a reason…
    • We stumble upon dozens of hosted VoIP systems provided by people with no redundancy, multiple single points of failure, cheap handsets and opensource software.
    • If a hosted system costs less than £10/mth per user, as a general rule, my advice would be to stay well clear.
    • If you’d like some examples of pitfalls to avoid, please get in touch with any of the team here.

Positives:

  1. Great for heavily dispersed organisations
    • If you have people dotted about all over the place, rather than concentrated in offices, hosted UC becomes a real no-brainer
    • Retail is a prime example of this
    • Connect from anywhere, over the internet.  Just make sure your bandwidth is good enough
    • Generally no single or centralised point of failure (e.g. HQ having a power cut), as any good hosted provider will have multiple datacentres and auto-failover
  2. Adding services ‘per user’
    • If you have a group of users who require call recording, just turn it on for those users.  No need to purchase a call recording platform, just to satisfy those few users.
    • These can generally be added instantly, so no waiting around for installation
  3. Simplified billing
    • Because all costs are wrapped up into one service charge, you don’t generally get separate bills for maintenance, support, SIP line rental rentals, system lease etc
    • That said, be careful who you choose, as we’ve heard nightmares about indecipherable bills & reports, which seem to bear no resemblance to what you thought you ordered.
  4. International conferencing
    • Some of the top-end hosted VoIP providers offer international conferencing numbers free of charge.  If you have considerable international conferencing costs, this can be a significant factor

 

Moot Points & Misconceptions

  1. Surely a hosted provider is easiest for connecting phones over the internet?
    • Really not.  Almost all modern platforms have secure gateways to allow devices to be provisioned and connected over the public internet.
  2. Surely I’ll have to upgrade my UC platform when it goes end of life?
    • Most UC platforms come with evergreen software assurance, meaning you’re entitled to the latest version as soon as it’s available.
    • Modern systems are typically virtualised too, so if you want to move them off site, into the cloud, you have a wealth of options available to you.
  3. Free phone calls
    • Almost all services now come with calls to UK local, national and mobile destinations.  If you’re still on ISDN, then moving to SIP will achieve this for you.

 

 

In summary, please don’t be blindly guided down the Hosted VoIP path without giving consideration to all the options.  At Datasharp we are pleased to provide impartial advice based on the individual requirements of our customers. Click here to get in touch for a free consultation to see what system is the right fit for your business.