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Should You Use Cloud or Premise-Based Phones? 5 Questions to Ask

by K Logan | Apr 27, 2016

Cloud phoneTrying to decide if you should use cloud phone service or stick to your onsite phones? These five questions should help you make an informed decision.

1. What Can You Afford?
Cloud: If your company doesn’t have a lot of money to front and you prefer to fund your phones through your operating budget, a cloud phone is a good choice. There are no necessary hardware investments and no servers required. The costs are spread out with an annual subscription model similar to cellular plans and you typically pay by the seat or user. 

Onsite: If you want to purchase a phone system using capital, onsite phones is likely the better investment. With onsite phones, the bulk of the financial impact happens upfront, and the ongoing costs are typically less (depending on the size of your organization and phone system). This kind generally give you a lower total cost of ownership after three years.

2. What Are Your IT Needs?
Cloud: With data and applications moved offsite and systems administered remotely by the service provider, cloud phone is a great option for companies with limited IT resources. If your company uses cloud solutions, such as secure cloud storage, or Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), a cloud-based phone system makes more sense – especially when it can be bundled under one service provider.

Onsite: If your IT department likes to retain control of their systems, or are required to keep data onsite, then an onsite phone will be the clear choice. Keep in mind that if you’re retaining control solely to ensure security or government regulations (i.e. HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.), you may not need to. In some cases, cloud providers can offer more security than the organization can provide onsite.

3. What Kind of Customization Do You Need?
Cloud: If your organization generally works well with off-the-shelf applications that require very little customization, then a cloud solution should be suitable. Good cloud phones offer enough flexibility out-of-the-box to be suitable for most businesses. There are third-party integration options with good cloud-based phone systems that can often address moderate customization and integration needs.

Onsite: When you require customizations for unique processes or business needs, an onsite phone system is going to be more suitable. Just make sure that you have the resources to sustain those customizations. With upgrades, system administration and application management falling to your IT team, software customizations can go south in a hurry without adequate support.

4. Where are your employees located?
Do you have multiple locations? A cloud phone might be more suitable, as it allows your entire organization to operate on a single platform. This makes inter-office communication more seamless and it prevents the organization from paying for multiple phone systems. If you have remote workers, cloud phone allows workers to tap into their work phone from their browser or mobile device and access most of the same features as they do at work.

Onsite: If your employees work in a centralized location and you have only the occasional remote worker, then premise-based phones will adequately address your needs. Take your location into account as well; you need to have a rock-solid infrastructure that offers high-quality, secure network connections and an IT department that can respond quickly to any on-site service problems.

5. What features do you need?
Cloud: Cloud phones typically come with the same features as your standard office phone and can offer additional perks. However, some providers are notorious for charging extra for features you need, like calling queues. Look closely at the features being offered as part of the standard package and find out how much extra any additional features will cost. Shop around and compare – when it comes to features, no two phone systems are alike.

Onsite: Again, depending on your vendor, a premise-based phone is likely to offer more features as part of the bundle, sparing you up-charges. The downside is in some of the features it doesn’t offer,  like business continuity. In the event of your network going out, natural disasters, etc. you’ll need to consider how people can reach you. Just like with cloud phone though, you’ll need to make sure that the system you are getting offers the features that you need.

When you’re choosing between cloud-based and onsite, you might find yourself torn between the two. In that case, you might consider a hybrid solution. Hybrids let you leverage existing hardware and cloud options while still retaining control of the onsite phone system. Whatever you decide, be sure to shop around and find the solution that is going to give you exactly what you need.

Which kind of phone system is right for you? Milner, Inc. is an independent provider of onsite, cloud-based and hybrid phone solutions from the leading manufacturers. Contact one of our experts to figure out which phone system will work best for your business.