Hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) has proven its worth, presenting the perfect brew of cost effectiveness and business-driven solutions. Making this transition to the cloud communication platform is somewhat of a paradox. Despite business owners realizing that Hosted PBX provides a unified communication system, they often struggle to fully integrate it as a part of their existing IT and communications infrastructure. Ensuring easy adoption and interoperability of Hosted PBX is critical to realizing actual ROI on your cloud communications investment. This means some degree of preparedness. We term is as “cloud readiness” but don’t be apprehensive about it since it does not present any significant costing. This discussion combines a small checklist, resolving some queries and providing tips for ensuring you are ready to comprehensively adopt and use Hosted PBX.
Step 1: Acknowledge the Truth, You Need PBX Hosting Guidance
Transitioning to the cloud communications platforms comes with a small learning and adoption curve. Unless you have an in-house team with real expertise in integrating PBX Hosting solutions in your IT setup, it is better to employ a Voice-over-IP service provider. This is perhaps the most critical aspect since it underlines your psychological approach. You need professional help in measuring your degree of cloud readiness and recommending changes in the existing infrastructure and the proposed hosted public exchange network to create the perfect communication platform. This might include designing a unique cloud communication ecosystem for your business. Packaged solutions seldom fit well in every workplace scenario. The technology solutions provider should have answers for quick provisioning and have experts onboard who understand the unique dynamics of your business niche. Again, these are the fundamentals of a successful PBX implementation…
Step 2: Introspect In-house IT Tele-Communication Infrastructure
The fact that you are seeking a better, more efficient communication platform suggests that there are flaws in the existing infrastructure. However, industry trends indicate a diabolical trend—many organizations, particularly those with long hierarchical structures have a sense of apprehension in being honest about their telecommunication challenges. The Hosted Private Branch Exchange Cloud is essentially a customized solution. If the challenges are not shared, the solutions will never deliver the expected results. The introspection should be executed at the time of site survey itself. Your service provider should have absolute clarity regarding legacy challenges or your fears about imminent increase in communication volumes and the inability to handle the increasing load. This is the best way to brainstorm different implementation scenarios.
Step 3: Benchmark QoS (Quality of service)
This is perhaps the most overlooked aspect among PBX cloud implementation. For starters, you should insist on adopting QoS (Quality of service). If the current infrastructure does not prove QoS, demand it from your service provider. The provider should clearly define Quality of Service benchmarks. What is regarded as “average” voice quality for another business setup might seem unacceptable to you. Insist on getting very clear guidelines on what qualifies as QoS for internal and external network. Ideally, there should be a back-up plan for QoS failure. Similarly, QoS configuration needs expertise.
Step 4: Understand Traffic Protocols
Before installing a Hosted PBX solution using the cloud network, define different traffic protocols. Your network and firewall restrictions will follow these rules, so be very clear if you prefer ICMP or want HTTPS web access. Hosted call processing works better when there is a clearly defined list of what type of voice data should be a part of your network and the traffic volumes allowed in different scenarios. Even simple communication efficiencies like Call Forwarding need to be configured at the very beginning. Your cloud might be easy to access from the web browser but during extremely high traffic moments, protocols should define which calls to be processed immediately based on their degree of criticality. Your service provider should help you define and create such settings across the cloud and on-premise (if any) network.
Step 5: Make Your Hardware Work Hard
Better ROI in your hosted PBX environment will be realized if you are ready to optimize basic Voice-over-IP hardware. This means the basics—cabling and switches, that can create unwarranted downtimes if not checked and replaced regularly. Think of long-term returns by investing in the best hardware for your VoIP infrastructure. For instance, your provider should know how to separate networked voice and data cables or how to combine the two via a single wire.
Step 6: Get Remote Service Readiness
Even if you don’t have too many disparate work locations, ensure your service provider has the scalability tools to incorporate remotely located offices within the Hosted PBX solution. If you are already operating nationwide, your service provider should be omnipresent in metropolitan markets, local metro locations—such providers present a greater chance of created remote area PBX hosted solutions.
Besides these fundamentals of creating “Readiness” for hosted PBX there is a short CHECKLIST we insist you should share with your IT service provider:
1. Handling SIP based Devices
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) based devices might present a problem. Discuss with your Hosted PBX solutions provider about SIP endpoints and if there is room for supporting these devices. There have been instances of hosted PBX vendors insisting on very specific SIP. This means additional costing.
2. Optimizing DHCP Configurations
Public internet connectivity across newly connected devices invariably uses DHCP. If your IT system already has a configured Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol on LAN, discuss with your service provider if there is a need to configure the server. There might be a scenario of reevaluating different DHCP configurations for the most optimized Hosted PBX solutions.
3. Managing Power-over-Ethernet Switches
PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) prove to be more efficient over standard Ethernet cables. If your service provider proposes PoE switches in your network, ensure the hosted PBX network creates maximum room for compatibility for Power-over-Ethernet switches.
4. Compatibility with Fax Machines
Cloud-based solutions for fax machines might not be a contemporary trend but if you insist on it, the hosted cloud network can be fashioned to incorporate and support fax machines. Some add-ons in this niche include adding an email feature to fax machined communication—fax communicated as emails. Be vigilant about incorporating analog devices since many cloud solutions providers don’t offer this. Some businesses use additional translation devices while some invest in analog lines to manage both incoming/outgoing faxes outside the realm of hosted public exchange network.
As a concluding thought, we propose keeping things transparent with your Hosted PBX provider. Don’t think of any doubt as being trivial. From managing conference calls among decision-makers to inter-departmental calls, discuss every doubt to gain clarity!