Head in the Clouds: Getting a Cloud-Based Business Phone System
Cloud technology is showing up everywhere as the best and most efficient means of data storage. If you’re a cloud technology enthusiast, you can now use a cloud system for your phone system, too.
Cloud (or virtual) PBXs are the latest in PBX technology. A PBX, or “public branch exchange” is the switchboard system that allows a business to successfully route inbound and outbound calls. Originally, a PBX was a large piece of hardware that needed to be manually operated and regularly maintained. Today, some businesses still use these traditional analog PBXs, but the more popular option is an IP PBX, or an Internet Protocol PBX, which uses the Internet to transfer calls, rather than traditional wireline technology.
If you’ve ever heard of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), the technology that allows people to send phone calls over the Internet, IP PBXs are just the VoIP-friendly version of the traditional PBX. There are several variants on the IP PBX:
- On-premise IP PBX: With an on-premise solution, customers can buy a hardware PBX, or build their own hardware system or software PBX platform. These are automatic systems that do not need manual management. However, customers will need to find a SIP trunk service provider to enable their IP PBX to send calls to and receive calls from out-of-office numbers. On-premise IP PBXs are great choices for people who love a tech challenge.
- Hosted PBX (Cloud PBX): A hosted PBX is a PBX system that it run and maintained by a VoIP service provider. With a hosted service, all of the hardware components of the PBX system are stored at the service provider’s data center. This means that with a hosted PBX solution, customers spend much less on hardware, software, maintenance, and storage. Customers interface with their PBX through a control panel that they download onto their own computer. You may see the terms “hosted” and “virtual” or “cloud” used separately, but today, they all generally refer to the same thing: a hosted system that is based out of a service provider’s data center and provides the customer with a switchboard through a cloud platform.
How Do Cloud PBXs Work?
Starting off with the basics, cloud technology refers to simple cloud-based data storage. So, with a cloud PBX, all of the data of your PBX system is stored online in a cloud data system. When you decide you want a cloud PBX, you first need to find a VoIP service provider that offers cloud PBX options. Once you have contacted the service provider and set up a phone plan, the service provider can start your plan right away. You can control your cloud PBX through any Internet-enabled device, as long as you have all of the login information for your PBX account.
The service provider maintains the cloud system through their private facility, but the customer can personalize and manage their PBX through their account.
What are the Benefits of Cloud PBXs?
Running a business is already expensive, and companies need phone service that is cheap but reliable. Cloud PBXs are extremely cheap, around $20/month per extension, and they are very reliable, but the user doesn’t need to worry about finding a way to house and maintain their PBX in their own office.
With cloud PBX services, business owners can get as many extensions as they need, each with unlimited calling in the US. Customers will also have access to the full range of standard VoIP features like auto attendants that act as automatic operators, and hunt groups, that allow business owners to set up groups of extensions (like accounting, sales, etc.) so that calls can be sent directly to a specific department.
By Rachel Greenberg