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Cloud telephony is how a company who is in need of telephones either rents or buys IP telephones from a Hosted Cloud Service provider and then these IP telephones are registered back to the cloud provider’s server in a remote location. The only hardware on the customer site is the IP telephones that are connected using the customer’s internet.
There are thousands of telephony cloud providers out there, each offering slightly different options and packages. The whole selection process can be quite confusing; a fair amount of research is a must. Choosing a Hosted Service from existing companies such as AT&T or Bell is a good, but not necessarily a cost effective choice. There are other grassroots companies such as E-MetroTel that provide their legacy expertise from Nortel to offer hosted cloud services. A little more about them later.
What is hosted cloud and how does it work? Hosted cloud service is having an IP phone in your office or on any internet accessible network anywhere in the world, connect directly to a shared telephone PBX.
Hosted cloud works by a cloud company establishing a block of servers running a telephony software program such as Asterisk. The servers are partitioned to provide virtual phone systems for each customer. These virtual phone systems offer some features such as conference calling, call transfer or Shared Line Appearance, but more complex features such as Call Park, Paging, Conference Bridge and Ring Tones are either not offered or offered at an additional cost.
Once a contract is signed, the administrators of the hosted cloud service provider register the number of users and set up the extensions. IP telephones are sent to the customer where they are often responsible for setting up the SIP phones and connecting them directly onto their own network. The upside is the relatively little installation time needed to set up the phones. The downside is the feature set available pales in comparison to a customer premise-based phone system, such as a Nortel BCM.
A small storefront bakery or doctor’s office has a need for four telephones and a few incoming numbers. Hosted cloud service is ideal, since the hosted cloud provider can send the phones preprogrammed and ready to use. The client simply plugs the phones into their local internet connected network and are up and running.
Another good example for hosted cloud service would be a new graphic design office. They have 3 locations and 10 users at each location, each office with its own phone number and good internet connectivity. The hosted cloud service company would send the phones to all three offices and they will all be interconnected and function like a larger single office. The distance between each office does not matter and each office can cover the other offices when the need arises.
While sounding amazingly easy to use, hosted cloud is not the answer for every customer. On the contrary, there are quite a few businesses where hosted cloud service, would not only be inconvenient but also risky.
For example, a large hospital or an emergency center running numerous phone lines and general telephones for doctors/nurse’s stations. A hosted setup would be a risky choice. Instead an on-premise PBX or a networked PBX between hospitals, maintained by a certified technician who knows the ins and outs of the PBX system would be a much better choice. With a certified technician who would be on site and on call, there would be little to no system down time, even when there are internet connection issues. Hosted cloud service rarely offers on-site visits. This could be a huge disadvantage to a hospital or emergency center where vital communications lines must be maintained 24/7. Additionally, if the cloud service goes down for any reason, the hospital or emergency center is also down!
A huge advantage of premise-based PBX systems is the choice of trunk types and features. A trunk is a method or type of communication service that a PBX system can handle to make incoming and outgoing phone calls, examples would be SIP, PRI, or Analog. Most hosted cloud service providers offer only SIP trunking with a small amount of PBX features, generally voicemail, conference calling, call transfer and maybe a frontend IVR. The requirements of Primary Rate Interface (PRI), Basic Rate Interface (BRI) or Analog trunking cannot be provided by a hosted cloud service. Telephony features like paging, call park, hot-desking, agents and phone queuing are generally only provided by a Premise-Based PBX.
If there is a need for multiple telephone types such as digital, analog and IP, hosted cloud services may not be suitable for these phone types, as they are more geared towards using open standards SIP or IP Telephones.
E-MetroTel, a company founded by a group of seasoned Nortel alumni, is the only company on the market that can support TDM digital telephone sets in a hosted cloud service. With an E-MetroTel UCx hosted server Nortel M3900 phones, Nortel T7316E phones and Nortel 1140E IP phones, can all be connected via a Hosted Cloud solution each with the Nortel Feature button access codes. An E-MetroTel hosted cloud solution has access to feature codes such as Feature 60 for paging, Feature 2 for Ring Again, and the multitude of other features available on BCM/Norstar and Meridian1/CS1000 as if the PBX was on-premise.
Every E-MetroTel cloud customer is unique. Each customer receives their own Cloud PBX instance, completely isolated from every other E-MetroTel customer. The UCx instance is physically located in the closest major city anywhere around the globe.
E-MetroTel is the only company that allows for both cloud PBX and premise-based PBX to be shared. Software, licenses and configuration can easily be moved between both platforms. And the administrator and user interfaces for both platforms are exactly the same.
Once linked, survivability and call handling can be shared between both platforms. Calls can be routed to client phones no matter where the configuration of the actual phone is hosted. A call received through an analog line configured on the premise-based PBX can be routed to a Cloud Hosted phone set. A great example of this setup would be a bank with a central head office and several bricks and mortar branches. The head office could have the premise-based PBX and each branch could be setup as a cloud based PBX. A local resident would call the branch local number and the call is handled by the head office and routed to the local branch. If staff at the local branch are all busy, overflow calls can be handled by the head office or vice versa, the branches can handle overflow calls to the head office.
In addition to all the IP, Digital TDM, and Analog telephones, E-MetroTel offers the Infinity One softphone client that takes the power of a telephone onto your laptop, desktop or Android based tablet/phone. Infinity One is a powerful unified business communications platform with a full featured IP desk phone based on the original i2050 Nortel phone and includes a built-in chat messaging client.
The E-MetroTel Infinity One provides flexible, work anywhere communication. Take your business on the go. Log in as a contact center agent from a coffee shop, work as an operator from your home office or lead a multi-party business conference from the airport. No software to be downloaded to the device and no new phone numbers required. All conversations are encrypted and private.
E-MetroTel PBX in the cloud is configured specifically and uniquely for your business. Almost all other hosted companies can only offer a single shared model which must be used by everyone. An E-MetroTel PBX will also integrate with unlimited SIP trunks, no need to move or port numbers.
No matter the size of your business, from one person to a few hundred people, moving your existing TDM, analog or IP phones over to the E-MetroTel Hosted Cloud Services is easy and seamless. Existing Nortel features will be available and your existing phone is supported by the E-MetroTel Hosted Cloud Service.
Alternatively, upgrading your Meridian1 or CS1000 to an E-MetroTel UCx appliance will allow for back end upgrading while keeping all your Nortel phones and features long after the competition stops supporting them.