Are On-Premise Phone Systems Inferior to Hosted?
In today’s tech economy, the “cloud” conversation is taking up most of the telecommunication real estate. With the flexibility in licensing and full-featured applications that mostly come standard, it’s easy to see why so many companies have headed that direction.
But what about on-premise phone systems? Are they technically inferior or inadequate to handle the technology needs of the business world today? Well, the short answer is NO. On-premise phone systems are not inferior to hosted phone systems. However, it is industry-wide knowledge that there are problems, or more accurately put, limitations that you can run into if not equipped with the right information at the beginning.
Avoid the Nightmare of a Business Phone System That Doesn’t Fit
Business discovery is the #1 most important factor to consider as a company when implementing any new technology. Especially when it comes to a unified communication solution because there are too many variables that can negatively affect the functionality of the system. You must first understand what you need to accomplish as a business and then question which technology would help you reach your goals. From a holistic perspective, this can be the difference between a wonderful experience or a never-ending nightmare.
You will come away from this article with an understanding of the problems you might face when installing an on-premise phone system. Along with that, we want you to be armed with the unique solutions that Unified has implemented in our 10+ years of engineering and installing on-premise phone solutions for our customers.
Capacity & Scalability
- PROBLEM: The best phone with the best technology is not a good fit if it doesn’t keep up with your growth. An on-premise solution can handle 3-4 phones and scale-up to thousands of phones depending on the system. The problem comes in when a phone system is installed based only on your current need with no anticipation of what your communication environment will need to be in 3-5 years. Some systems are only able to support a certain number of phones, and if you exceed that number of phones, then your expenses go up exponentially due to the additional hardware that is required to add more phones.
- SOLUTION: Understanding your growth plan is critical when choosing a solution that will accommodate your needs, not only for today but in the coming years. It is all about planning. During the discovery process, you must know your growth plans to ensure you’re set you up with a system that can grow with you as you continue to add people to your team.
Obsolete Hardware and Support
- PROBLEM: Legacy systems that are 10 years and older are typically obsolete because manufacturers can’t get the parts to make them anymore, which limits the amount of support a manufacturer can offer. This affects both the hardware and software support because once the hardware is no longer available, manufacturers will typically stop updating the software on the system. Most manufacturers will announce and end-of-life with a timeline of a year. Support for the system will then follow for an additional 5. If your phone system works, it’s great, but what happens when it doesn’t?
- SOLUTION: As a supplier, we continue to support the customer even when the manufacturer doesn’t support us. Our warehouse is full of equipment and parts from legacy systems that have been obsolete for nearly 15 years. Combined with the handful of technicians we have on-staff that have been in the industry for nearly 30 years, we can support customers with phone systems that have been discontinued for more than 15 years.
Inadequate features & functions
- PROBLEM: When it comes to features and functions for on-premise phone systems, the truth is, contrary to the cloud-only supplier’s bantering, most on-premise phones can handle just about anything you want to throw at it, even some additional customization that is very difficult to achieve on a cloud-based system. The problem is that the majority of these phones don’t come with these applications ready to go straight out-of-the-box. Many suppliers that only offer cloud-based phone systems will use this little fact as a sales tactic as an advantage and declare that it is an inferior solution to the hosted route. On-premise phones need additional hardware and server(s) installed to activate these features, which can sometimes add to the upfront cost of on-premise solutions. Depending on your overall goals, that could be a problem.
- SOLUTION: From a technology perspective, there is nothing that a cloud-based phone system can do that an on-premise solution can’t. The greatest difference is how you implement the two solutions and the equipment it takes to do so. To alleviate the initial cost of the hardware it takes to run feature-rich on-premise solutions, we offer a Managed Services agreement that essentially brings the benefits of an Op-Ex model to an on-premise solution where we manage your services giving you flexible expenses and control over your system. Furthermore, with an on-premise system, customization of applications is easier to accomplish whereas for hosted solutions, features are designed for the masses and customizing them can be costly.
Lack of data & reporting
- PROBLEM: Similar to the features, data capture and reporting for on-premise systems do not come with the phones out-of-the-box. Additional hardware and software are required to accomplish this advanced feature.
- SOLUTION: (This is only true for MiVoice Connect, for the other platforms we do NOT include reporting unless requested) Every on-premise system that we design by default has our Unified Analytics application which has unlimited reporting capabilities with the necessary hardware built into the design as a standard. If for some reason data and reporting are not important or necessary, then we can always remove this option to help with the cost.
- PROBLEM: Though it is extremely rare in the industry today, telecom providers that don’t offer a Support Agreement can bill you monthly charges based on all service tickets and the hours used for repairs, patches, fixes, and updates. If you are a company that relies heavily on a telecom provider to perform updates, fixes, and training, then your monthly expense could be less than desirable.
- SOLUTION: At our highest level, we offer a Premium Level Support Agreement called “Comprehensive” that covers everything except adds, moves, and changes. In our experience, we know some customers rely heavily on our support and wouldn’t want it any other way. On the other hand, we know that there are customers that are inclined to make certain changes themselves and for them, we have additional options for support as to not add unnecessary bills to service tickets.
At the end of the day, an on-premise phone system is NOT inferior to cloud-based phone systems. Whether or not an on-premise phone system is the best solution for you really depends on how you plan to accomplish your business initiatives and what your overall technology strategy is for the next 3-5 years.