Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and in the case of cloud computing astute entrepreneurs are using hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to send phone bills up in smoke. Hosted VoIP is one cloud application that has firmly transitioned from hype to reality.
As adoption rises, it is also poised to deal a lethal blow to Telkom’s onsite PBX services, writes George Golding, CEO of Euphoria Telecoms.
In a recent example, Euphoria Telecoms installed a cloud VoIP PBX for Medway, a medical insurance firm, and reduced its total telecommunications bill by 50%. The company’s phone and fax and call centre requirements were formerly supported by multiple, ageing, onsite systems.
This included a nine year-old PBX in need of upgrade at great cost, a legacy call centre PABX, fax to e-mail server, cellular low cost routing solutions and several regional PBX systems. Each month, nine Telkom bills had to be reconciled and telephony costs were stifling the margin.
Today, VoIP delivers distinct advantages to Medway. Inter-branch calls are free. A single, hosted PBX has replaced all onsite equipment, its depreciation, maintenance and upgrades. The total telecommunications bill has been halved, and complexity eliminated from its administration.
Intelligent reports further inform strategic decisions and plans are underway for further reductions, specifically of the telephony costs of mobile agents.
In cloud VoIP technology terms, “hosted” refers to a managed solution in which a server is leased. “Cloud”, however, delivers a complete VoIP solution in which users don’t own or rent any equipment on the server side. Among other benefits, the cloud model effects considerable savings.
Quality and features
As the Medway example illustrates, profound savings is just one reason why executives are deploying hosted VoIP. In the context of VoIP, the cloud is a means by which providers like Euphoria also deliver infrastructure and applications cost efficiently and on demand.
Because it enables digital voice, VoIP quality is generally better than that of analogue (Telkom) landlines. And because it’s Web-based, it’s easy to configure remotely and useful features are provided at no extra cost. Examples are:
* Voicemail to e-mail.
* Caller ID, call (music) hold, call hunting, call recording and call logging.
* In-bound call cues and interactive voice response.
* Online, real time outbound call logs and costs.
* Call to e-mail per extension.
* Conferencing.
* Free calls within a network, in other words free inter-branch calls.
* Per second billing and no connection fees to drive down local and international call costs.
Security
The claim of VoIP vulnerability is largely misunderstood because VoIP is no longer about free, point-to-point calls, although it started that way 15 years ago.
Euphoria, for example, guarantees security in a VoIP environment because they use multiple mechanisms – authorisation, authentication, 256bit encryption, virtual private networks and a proprietary cloud PBX – to secure communications over the Internet. But all hosted VoIP providers are not equal, so it’s important to enquire about security upfront.
Business leaders are under relentless financial and competitive pressures. Every opportunity to boost margins and increase competitive advantage is well worth investigating. Without a doubt, hosted VoIP translates some of cloud computing’s promise into tangible business benefits.
As a result, VoIP is gaining significant traction in the private sector. And, because the business case is so unquestionably in its favour, the growth of hosted VoIP will inevitably outstrip that of analogue services. It’s only a matter of time before VoIP assumes its rightful position as SA’s telecoms star.