Original Post: 05 July 2019
Updated: 17 December 2021
What is cloud telephony and how does it work? We answer these and other questions in our ultimate cloud telephony guide.
As cloud-based technologies become more accessible and affordable, more businesses are reaping the rewards of migrating their systems and processes to the cloud.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, over 45% of IT spending on system infrastructure, software and business process outsourcing will shift to the cloud, making cloud computing one of the biggest disruptive forces in IT. Meanwhile, research by TechGig shows that 95% of organisations plan to increase their cloud spending through 2021, and for good reason.
Cloud-based solutions are transforming the technologies businesses use every day, from file storage and project management. Business communications is another exciting area for cloud transformation, with cloud-based telephony solutions empowering businesses with robust call features and a smoother transition to remote working.
What is Cloud Telephony?
For years, offices have stored their business phone system’s routing and network components — also known as a private branch exchange (PBX) — on-premises. The PBX switches calls between users through local lines and enables office workers, teams, or departments to share several external phone lines.
Cloud telephony systems take this on-prem infrastructure to a server in the cloud, freeing your organisation’s exchange from being limited to a physical location. This also means your call data is securely hosted on a server that’s accessible through the Internet.
In a time when lockdowns have forced businesses to move their employees to work-from-home set-ups, cloud-based telephony systems have proven instrumental in making this shift as smooth as possible. It’s no surprise then that the global telephony market is projected to reach $47 billion in value by 2028.
How Do Cloud Telephony Systems Work?
On the surface, your staff probably won’t notice any difference between a traditional PBX telephony system and one that’s based on the cloud. Calls are made, transferred and received the same way.
However, the backend of your cloud telephony system will be completely different.
The entire infrastructure — whether you use a traditional Primary Rate Interface (PRI) or voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone system — will house all routing lines and switching systems in the cloud. This means all calls are routed through your cloud supplier’s data centre instead of hardware in your premises.
Your employees, teams and departments will still have phone numbers as before, but these numbers will now be virtual and no longer attached to a physical handset or mobile phone. Most businesses will port their Direct-Dial-In (DDI) numbers to their cloud provider, saving them the trouble of creating new phone numbers.
When someone calls, your cloud telephony system will route the call according to your predetermined rules, which could mean:
- Sending the call simultaneously to multiple devices, such as a desk handset or mobile device
- Sending the call to both the manager and a specific member of the team
- Sending the call to voicemail
- Immediately escalating the call to a live customer service agent (in the case of customer service hotlines)
At Optimising IT, we help organisations migrate their telephony systems to the cloud using Microsoft Phone System. Phone System brings your on-prem PBX infrastructure to the cloud and delivers a new set of features via Microsoft 365 and Office 365. Your business can then use Microsoft Teams to make and receive phone calls from any desktop, notebook computer, smartphone or desk phone that supports Teams.
This integration with Microsoft Teams means that your entire organisation’s corporate communication services are now centralised under one digital workspace environment, from phone calls, instant messaging and email. If you already use Teams, adding your telephony system to it extends its functionality and lets you do more with a tool you’re already familiar with.
5 Reasons to Switch to a Cloud Telephony System
Cloud-based phone systems are portable, allowing you and your team to access your business phone lines from anywhere at any time. Any approved device will work as long as it supports your telephony app (e.g., Microsoft Teams) and is connected to the Internet.
This kind of portability gives your workforce greater flexibility — an important advantage in a time when the pandemic has forced companies to accelerate their remote capabilities. No matter where your employees are, you can connect them to the rest of your organisation with one phone number.
2. Cost Reduction
Integrating your telephony system with the rest of your corporate communications ecosystem also reduces costs, and the number of apps employees need to use.
In just five years, Boston Borough Council’s cloud-based telephony system increased savings by 41%.
Hardware is arguably the most obvious source of cost reduction. If you opt for a softphone solution, your telephony system will no longer require on-site hardware on employee desks.
Reduced installation and maintenance can also generate savings.
Your external telephony provider will take care of setting up and maintaining your cloud infrastructure. For example, at Optimising IT, we do the heavy lifting of setting things up on Microsoft Phone System. External cloud providers also monitor maintenance updates and train your employees to use your cloud-based telephones effectively.
All you need do is pay a monthly subscription fee to keep your cloud telephony system running.
Cloud telephony systems can scale alongside organisations of all types and sizes. Your cloud telephone system can quickly add new users, numbers and even entire new sites through one convenient web portal as your business grows,
No need to lay down more phone lines, install additional handsets and routing rules. Simply add a new user to your telephony system with a few mouse clicks.
Cloud-based telephone systems are extremely reliable — more so when you use an industry-leading service like Microsoft Teams.
As explained earlier, cloud telephony systems are hosted on off-site servers. These systems, in turn, have geographic redundancies, which means that even if one server experiences issues, another server can serve as a backup to avoid downtime and keep your corporate communications ecosystem running smoothly.
5. Improved Resilience and Disaster Recovery
The coronavirus pandemic offers a textbook example of how cloud-based telephone systems improve your organisation’s resilience. Even if your offices aren’t accessible, your cloud telephony system’s Disaster Recovery (DR) will ensure that your lines of communication remain open.
Cloud-based telephone systems also have other disaster recovery features, such as notification protocols. The system actively monitors and reports the state and quality of your platform’s calls, notifying you when you need to use a backup plan, such as transferring to a more stable Internet connection.
It’s Time to Bring Your Telephony System to the Cloud
If this cloud telephony guide has convinced you to bring your communications platform to the cloud, let Optimising IT help by creating a cloud migration plan for your organisation. We’ve implemented cloud-based phone systems for a range of customers and worked with various cloud suppliers, giving us a breadth of experience.