Why a Cloud-Hosted Phone System Is the Future

In any conversation about phones these days, you’re bound to hear the idea of a hosted VoIP phone system come up. That’s in large part because of how much tech is reaching the cloud by now, but the significance goes deeper. After all, a phone system that you don’t need to have on-site, managed entirely in the cloud? That’s an idea with immediate appeal to most anyone.

And plenty of businesses have seen that appeal. Considering that in 2023 global spending in the cloud will reach just under $600 billion USD, there’s a lot of investment funds moving toward hosted VoIP phone systems and cloud communications platforms. That represents a lot of organizations switching off from on-premises systems, and a lot more cloud users that telephony providers will focus on in the years to come.

But a hosted phone system isn’t the future only because more and more are choosing it. Just in terms of everyday use, having a phone in the cloud makes for a far more convenient communications system on the whole, even to the point that on-premises PBXs are effectively obsolete.

How a Hosted Phone System Works

Okay, but you may be asking, what even is a hosted phone service? It’s a VoIP phone solution, but what does that mean? How’s it different from the old landline phone?

There’s a lot to say about the difference between VoIP and landline phones, but to recap, a VoIP phone system makes calls over the internet, while a landline phone places calls through physical telephone lines. A hosted phone system is a type of VoIP system that is “hosted” off-site, meaning it exists on a server owned by your VoIP provider and is accessed through the internet. (This is the basics behind any cloud system.)

In brief, you use your cloud-hosted VoIP service by first connecting to it through an internet-enabled device, such as a laptop, a smartphone or a compatible deskphone. Once you’ve connected to your hosted PBX, you can use it the same way you would use any PBX: all its cloud calling capabilities and other functions can be used right from your connecting device.

When you initiate a call over that phone in the cloud, your voice is sent over the internet in deconstructed form, as what are called “packets” of smaller units of data. Those packets travel to the other end of your VoIP call, where they are reassembled almost instantly to become understandable audio. The same process happens when the other calling party speaks as well.

So that’s the way a hosted phone service handles your calls. But why is this so much better than other options?

On-Prem Complications

That “why” is worth asking because a switch to a VoIP phone system doesn’t necessarily mean switching to a hosted VoIP setup. With the great PSTN shutoff looming overhead, internet telephony is a must for future-proofing your business communications. However, IP-based telephony can also run through on-premises installation — that is, with a physical PBX at your headquarters.

So, what’s the difference between a hosted phone service and an on-prem one? In terms of features, pretty much none: Just for day-to-day use, an on-premises PBX can have all the same capabilities as a hosted VoIP phone system. The one and only difference between the two is where it’s deployed: at your business or hosted elsewhere.

But while location doesn’t matter as far as features go, it does matter in other key ways.

Who Maintains It for You?

Having an on-site PBX means no one is handling its ongoing upkeep but you. Under an old-school mindset, this may sound like a win — why let someone else handle the upkeep of your phone solution? However, going the DIY route also means more headaches.

If your PBX is a physical component in your office, it becomes a component that your staff has to look after, fiddle with and protect. The system’s continued life is something your business is responsible for, everything from replacing its cables every so often to making sure no one knocks the hardware to the ground by accident.

With cloud communications, meanwhile, maintenance is offloaded to your VoIP provider. Regular upkeep is their responsibility, not yours, meaning you no longer have to worry about how to keep the PBX running at its best. There are no concerns about if user error may cause an outage, or about if neglecting updates will cause malfunction — that’s all in your provider’s hands, now, and being experts, they know how to keep it running optimally anyway.

Basically, someone has to be responsible for a PBX’s upkeep: you or your provider. If you let your provider handle it, you’ll lose zero functionality, but gain back a lot of time and mental focus.

Cost Savings

The setup costs of a hosted PBX will always be lower than the costs of setting up an on-premises system, for one reason in particular: hardware (or, more accurately, the lack of it).

While an on-premises system has to go through a physical installation — with the actual PBX being set up, then cabled up — a hosted phone system only needs an internet connection to get up and running. Setting one up really is as simple as letting your provider create a virtual PBX, then handing you the login credentials to handle the administrative work for basic settings and user accounts.

That not only makes installing a hosted PBX faster but a lot cheaper as well. In most cases, the actual installation is free, and subsequent month-to-month fees will run you significantly less than those for an on-premises alternative.

In fact, most subscription-based models for buying a hosted phone system mean you won’t even have to pay for any incoming software upgrades: those will happen automatically on the hosted server, at zero added cost to you. Even in the long term, cloud telephony is consistently the smart way forward from a financial standpoint.

Adaptability Wins the Race

A big factor in the cost savings from a hosted PBX is the simplicity of setting up or modifying it. Since this system is 100% software, making changes to it means shifting some settings in the program — a far cry from the changes to the physical setups and cabling required from an on-site PBX.

That marked increase in simplicity also reduces how long changes to the system take. Adding or removing users from your hosted phone system is a matter of seconds, not hours, and bringing on new tools or capabilities just requires a system update on your provider’s end. Compared to a physical PBX, modifications happen through to a cloud system pretty much instantly.

Of course, anyone can appreciate the convenience of this added speed. But where the real benefits come in is from the standpoint of business adaptation. If your organization needs a change in license numbers, system type, tools, subscription level, phone number, voicemail configuration or almost anything else, that update can go through that very same day, no fuss or even on-site visits required.

With how quickly the market can change, having this degree of instant adaptability can make a world of difference in making effective adjustments to your business plans. That gives cloud calling and the systems behind it far and away more potential than on-site alternatives.

Going Mobile & Global

To businesses today, “mobile” describes how you keep projects and communications moving along even when outside the office.

And the fact is, being mobile with your business phone system is a lot easier with a hosted PBX. Actually, mobility comes with a cloud phone system automatically: Because you always access the cloud PBX through the internet, anyone in your organization will be able to use their business phone number through an internet connection. No matter if they’re out and about, at home or in the office, using the system will be exactly the same.

Obviously, that makes it a snap to provide remote working options. But that’s only scratching the surface of how much reach is available here.

For one thing, now connecting multiple offices is literally as simple as connecting each one to the internet. So long as your hosted PBX has the capacity to add on the desired number of users, you can tie branch building directly to your main phone system, with little added effort.

Or, if a whole branch office is too much, you can also hire remote contractors or even full-time employees, since your PBX can give them a dedicated number no matter where they’re located. With a cloud phone system, your team truly can work from anywhere, because there’s no regional limit on where it’s used.

Business Continuity

Let’s test your disaster preparedness: Suppose you pull into your office one day to find the whole place has burned down. The entire building is ruined, and so is all the equipment inside. What comes next?

After issuing your insurance claims, the main thing you’d want in this scenario is to make sure your communications system is still running. Office or no, business goes on: employees have projects to run, and your customers have purchases they want to make. The only way any of that will happen is with a functioning VoIP phone system.

Except, if yours was a physical, on-premises PBX, you no longer have a functioning phone system. Now that disaster’s struck, you’ll simply have to grit your teeth and take a few days of being offline — and you know that means days of not making any money.

This (admittedly worst-case) scenario is why the hosted telephony option is also the more prepared one: In the cloud, a disaster like this doesn’t sever your phone lines, because your phone lines weren’t physically running through your office to begin with. Even after the worst possible disaster, your hosted PBX will still be up and running in the cloud.

Nobody likes to imagine disasters happening, but they’re still very much something every business must plan for. Without breaking out the dreaded “L” word we grew so familiar with in 2020, the possibility of a business not having access to its main office is very real and very much a threat. But since a hosted phone system sidesteps that threat entirely, why even bother with something else?

Getting Your Head in the Cloud

All these factors have been critical in driving the popularity behind cloud-based IP phone systems, of course. But that’s not even getting into how little hassle there is in switching over to that hosted model for your PBX.

So just how easy is that switch? As we said before, it’s as easy as being connected to the internet and letting your provider do the rest. And fortunately, that’s true even if you don’t have a VoIP phone system yet.

When you switch from a landline connection to a hosted PBX, you’re able to keep your number thanks to a process called number porting. This essentially transfers the number associated with your organization to the digital realm, ensuring that all of your contacts can still reach you as they did before. While this is often a lengthy procedure, Wildix provides an easy solution with Instant Virtual Porting, an update that dramatically cuts down the wait time involved in the switch.

And what about hardware? Well, you probably already have everything you need. Not only does a cloud phone system not require a physical PBX on the premises, it can be reached by any internet-connected device, including the laptops and smartphones your staff already uses. With the right adapters, you can even connect landline devices to your cloud VoIP system.

All that makes a phone in the cloud a very easy platform to get set up, as well as an easy platform to customize and continue to use into your business’s future. No matter how you look at cloud telephony, it’s the most flexible option, the most accessible option and usually the cheapest option to boot.

If all that doesn’t make for the easiest choice of technology moving forward, we’re not sure what is.

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