Deciding whether or not to put your telephone system in the cloud may be one of the biggest, yet easiest, technology decisions you make. Now that the feature sets of hosted PBX solutions are exceeding on-premises PBX solutions, it comes down to weighing out the pros/cons and answering some key questions.
Purchasing an on-premises PBX box is going to have a large up-front cost. Depending on your needs, a PBX could cost a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands and really the only pro in comparison to a cloud solution is that it is not in the cloud, for those who are cloud averse. The list of cons is extensive: it will typically take over four years to break even on the upfront purchase, upgrades or feature changes will either be unavailable on your system or costly, you’ll have to pay someone to maintain the system and make changes as they occur, you will have to double wire your office (voice and data on separate lines) and in just over 10 years or so you’ll have to start all over with a new purchase when your box becomes completely obsolete.
A hosted or cloud solution is going to be the complete opposite of an on-premises box – it is flexible and cost effective. Up-front costs are minimal (usually a small set up fee) and then you simply pay monthly for what you are using. Hosted solutions are feature rich and are especially good for businesses with multiple locations, mobile or home based employees and those who are concerned with business continuity and disaster recovery.
Regardless, if you are starting from scratch or looking to make a switch, the questions that need to be answered are the same. What is the bandwidth and telephony services options available to your location(s)? What type of internal wiring or cabling does your facility have? What feature set are you looking for and what is your budget? How comfortable are you with the cloud? A knowledgeable consultant should be able to easily walk you through this process and answer any questions you may have. Whether you decide to buy a box or go with a hosted solution your decision will greatly affect your business and how it operates for many years, so be sure it’s the right one for you.