Chris Daly| Cloudtweaks
Cloud-based unified communications services have transformed the ways businesses communicate. With unified communications–as-a-service solutions (UCaaS) enabling traditional communication and collaboration tools to be mobile and portable, business can have a seamless communication environment available anywhere, anytime. This new seamless communications environment has helped businesses become more nimble, more responsive to their customers and streamline their business processes.
With technology and service delivery evolving rapidly, it is important to note that not all unified communications solutions are equal. Pure hosted UCaaS solutions lack reliability as well as many of the enterprise features companies rely on that are available with traditional on-premise solutions. Hybrid solutions that combine the best of on-premise and hosted are emerging.
Hybrid cloud unified communications integrates cloud-based UC functionality with an on-premise device that supports advanced telephony capabilities primarily found in on-premise solutions. The multi-functional device, sometimes referred to as a service point, sits on premise and is a plug and play device similar to a set-top box. It is used to manage SIP devices such as desktop IP phones as well as distribute functionality. Most importantly, it is also used as an intelligent point for troubleshooting problems that originate on-premise.
Reliability is an ongoing concern with a pure hosted UCaaS solution and is typically end users most often heard complaint because business communications are the life blood of any SMB. Paul Faircloth, owner of Mosquito Creek Outfitters, a retail store providing quality outdoor gear and apparel to cater to the outdoor enthusiast lifestyle, sums it up best, “Before we deployed our hybrid cloud UCaaS solution we lost an average of $20,000 a day when the VoIP phone system was down, including irreparable damage to customer relations and reputation, which are priceless.”
The hybrid cloud UCaaS service point devices provide:
- Telemetry tools for end-to-end visibility and proactive management on both the LAN and WAN enabling the highest level of quality and reliability. Having visibility down to the device on the LAN virtually eliminates cross-vendor finger pointing if problems arise.
- Advanced call handling and features such as paging that are technically difficult to deliver reliably via cloud.
- Distributed communication services using SIP trunks from multiple geographically dispersed carriers to create a cohesive multi location solution with integrated numbering, voicemail, and presence.
- Additional fail over and redundancy capabilities including the ability to continue to use the phone system internally when external network connections are not available.
- SIP trunk termination without additional hardware. Organizations are choosing to run SIP trunks to the premise to consolidate traffic and to increase call quality, reliability, security and efficiency by maximizing the use of network capacity to drive down costs. With a service point, no additional hardware is needed for SIP trunk termination.
Epizyme recently replaced its hosted VoIP system with a hybrid UCaaS because calls were frequently dropped, words would fade in and out, and the problem could never be resolved. This is a common complaint with pure hosted solutions because there is no ability to assess the entire network – LAN, access connection, or upstream carrier for call quality and to diagnose the problem. This has resulted in finger pointing among the vendors and lingering issues that cannot be diagnosed and corrected.
The company selected a hybrid UCaaS solution and implemented SIP trunks to the premise. The company wanted to increase call quality, performance, simplify administration and future-proof by running SIP trunks to the premise so that they could take advantage of video and other new applications as they become available.
“Prior to installing a hybrid solution, we couldn’t rely on the phone service,” said Kevin Kaedin, Senior Systems Administration for Epizyme. “We wanted a VoIP solution that was reliable and easy to administer.”
Recently, the Dali Museum implemented a hybrid UCaaS solution to replace its 20+ year old legacy phone system. The museum is dedicated to increasing knowledge and awareness of Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali. The organization wanted to select a system that would improve customer service and provide worker flexibility with mobility features. They also have had problems with reliability and wanted to run SIP trunks directly to the premise.
The museum selected a hybrid UCaaS solution from a cable systems operator to provide a combined solution of voice and data services running over a fiber network. The hybrid UC solution’s service point is able to terminate SIP without any additional SIP to TDM conversion equipment further lowering TCO.
“We evaluated several large and small companies that either offered locally or remotely hosted systems before selecting a hybrid solution. The solution offered the best package in terms of cost, setup, equipment and service,” said Eric Crispen, Director of Information Technology for Dali Museum. “The lack of downtime and issues since we have installed the new has enabled us to feel secure in our telecom system, so we can solve other issues within the museum, saving us valuable time and man power.”
Take a close look at your UCaaS solution options before you buy. They are not all alike.