Showing 1-20 of 164 products
Virtual Office is a collection of comprehensive web-based business VoIP solutions from offered by 8x8. Enterprise grade phone service, virtual meetings, mobile applications, virtual contact centers and more are available to help companies... Read more
Recent recommendations: 59 recommendations
RingCentral Office incorporates the power of an enterprise-class PBX phone system in a cloud-based telecommunications system. Low up-front expenditures make RingCentral a great choice for small, medium and growing businesses. Read more
Recent recommendations: 53 recommendations
Jive Communications delivers a cloud-based unified communication solution to organizations of all sizes across the U.S. Jive Voice includes integrated products for business VoIP, video conferencing and contact center which are all... Read more
Recent recommendations: 47 recommendations
Vonage Business Solutions is a cloud-based communications solution suitable for small and midsize companies. The solution offers a business phone system that enables businesses to connect their VoIP phone system to internet-enabled... Read more
Recent recommendations: 40 recommendations
Nextiva is a business-focused VoIP phone system serving small businesses and enterprises. The Nextiva VoIP service provides users with a complete phone, chat, texting, and fax solution. Customers get more than phone service. They... Read more
Recent recommendations: 38 recommendations
Business Voice is a cloud-based VoiP solution created by PanTerra, which allows users to take or make calls from their office phone number, communicate with their team, and have file access, all from any device with an internet connection,... Read more
Recent recommendations: 31 recommendations
FluentStream is a business phone solution designed for companies of all sizes. It offers call monitoring, telemarketing, IVR and reporting features within an integrated suite. The solution is available both in cloud-based and on-premise... Read more
Recent recommendations: 27 recommendations
Designed for organizations of any size, Dialpad Talk is a cloud-based communications platform that allows businesses to access voice, messaging, meetings and video from any computer, smartphone, or tablet. Other key features include... Read more
Recent recommendations: 26 recommendations
GlobalMeet, a new generation unified communications (UC) platform, helps customers create connections with their employees, customers and shareholders. GlobalMeet provides a rich feature set including enterprise voice, a cloud-based... Read more
Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations
Ooma Office is a cloud-based VoIP solution that caters to small businesses across various industry verticals that helps them to manage their business operations. Ooma Office offers various capabilities offered by traditional IP PBX... Read more
Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations
net2phone’s cloud PBX VoIP phone solution enables businesses to communicate in a variety of methods, whether voice, texting, messaging or web chat, over an array of devices, in the office and on the go. The net2phone solution features... Read more
Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations
Versature’s cloud-based business VoIP services provide Canadian companies with unified communications and call analytics solutions to help manage their business operations. Versature’s key features include auto attendants, click-to-dial,... Read more
Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations
Twilio's Voice API is a fully programmable VoIP system that helps companies make, manage and route calls to a browser, app, phone and more. Key features include call monitoring, call transcripts, call routing, PBX, auto dialer / predictive... Read more
Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations
Five9's Cloud Contact Center is a good fit for call centers wanting a flexible yet robust virtual (cloud) PBX. More than the basic call functions, Five9 has designed a host of features to streamline call center operations. Read more
Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations
NICE inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read more
Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations
VSLogger Call Recorder is an on-premise call recording solution for small and midsize businesses. It offers services to call centers, financial institutions, insurance agencies, law practices, government organizations and other industries. The... Read more
Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations
RingCentral Engage Voice is a cloud-based contact center solution designed to help small to large enterprises automate and streamline outbound and blended communications between customers and call centers. It comes with a configurable... Read more
SIP Trunks by Voxbone is a cloud-based VoIP solution for businesses across various industries such as travel, telecommunication, construction and manufacturing. Key features include online ticketing system, monitoring of network operation... Read more
Skype for Business is a hybrid voice messaging solution that enables teams and individuals across the world to communicate and collaborate. It offers both cloud-based and on-premise solutions. This solution allows users to interact... Read more
Join.me is an online meeting platform that helps businesses manage meetings and team collaboration. Key features include real-time presentations, mobile whiteboards, scheduling, toll-free audio, chat and more. Designed for... Read more
Here's what we'll cover in this guide:
- What are Virtual, Hosted and Cloud PBXs?
- Choosing Between an On-Site or a Hosted (or Cloud, or Virtual) PBX
- Final Consideration
What are Virtual, Hosted and Cloud PBXs?
A PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is at the heart of every business phone system. It is the central component that integrates all internal phone extensions with all external phone lines, and allows calls to be set up and transferred between them. Originally, PBXs were big, physical machines. First, they were switchboards with human operators; later, the switchboards became automated. But since the late 1990s, they have been available in a new form: as virtual or hosted machines.
It’s important to point out that the terms "virtual," "hosted" and "cloud" have all been used very loosely over the years. In the late 1990s, a company by the name of "Virtual PBX" was the first to offer a service similar to what most now call a hosted PBX. Theirs was a much more limited service: it could only forward incoming calls. (Businesses would pay for a single business number, and when their customers called it, Virtual PBX would route those incoming calls to their employees’ on-site or off-site phones.)
In the early 2000s, as VoIP networks expanded and their connectivity to landlines improved, most of the virtual PBX call-forwarding companies added outbound calling to their plans. These new plans took on a new description: hosted PBX services. Then, when cloud became the buzzword for describing hosted services, this term, too, joined the mix.
Today, we see the three terms "virtual," "hosted" and "cloud" used interchangeably. Buyers should not assume that the terms imply any specific set of features. All services need to be compared in detail to understand what they offer.
Choosing Between an On-Site or a Hosted (or Cloud, or Virtual) PBX
Choosing a new phone system is one of the most daunting tasks a business can face. There are many technologies on the market that are competing with, overlapping and blurring the distinctions between one another. As we just explained, cloud, virtual and hosted are all used to describe a PBX that’s hosted off-site by a third party. So how do on-site PBXs compare to those hosted in the cloud?
|Off-site PBX||On-site PBX|
|Cost||A hosted PBX will almost always have a lower initial cost. But since it is billed as a service, it will have a recurring monthly charge. Businesses on the fence should calculate the total cost of ownership, and consider that hosting prices could go up over time.||There is a wide range of options for on-site PBXs. Some cost thousands of dollars; some are free. Included features and its form of network integration are the main cost factors. Companies that are already hosting their own computer servers might find this choice more feasible.|
|Maintenance||Hosted PBX software is kept up to date by the hosting company. Configuration changes can often be made remotely, though some leave this responsibility to the company subscriber. This works well for small companies without dedicated IT staff.||An on-site PBX could require a knowledgeable engineer or IT manager to add, remove and change phone extensions and perform periodic maintenance and other updates.|
|Flexibility||It’s difficult to generalize about the flexibility of hosted PBXs because of the wide range of companies and offerings. The important thing here is that buyers ensure their hosted PBX comes with all of the features they expect to need. Though hosted PBX service providers do generally stay current as new technology becomes available, there is no guarantee that providers will add new features that subscribers may want in the future.||There are few limitations with on-site PBXs. They can be programmed and reconfigured at will, as long as there’s an employee available who understands the system. On-site PBXs are more flexible with regards to WANs (Wide Area Networks), so integrating a newly opened branch office into the same phone network might be easier than with a hosted system.|
|Security||With a hosted PBX, the hosting company is responsible for keeping the system secure. This takes some—but not all—of the security burden off subscribers. Businesses still need to have their data connections secured. Hosting providers can usually make suggestions about how to do that and how to best configure firewalls so as not to interfere with voice traffic.||Modern PBXs are almost always connected to the Internet, and they face some of the same threats as computers. An unsecured PBX can become victim to denial of service and theft of services attacks. A properly configured firewall can prevent these attacks, though configuring firewalls so as not to interfere with voice calls can be challenging.|
|Analog or VoIP||Though hosted PBXs can connect to traditional analog office phones, they are far more at home interfacing with VoIP phones. In most cases, businesses using a hosted PBX system are already using, or are in the process of switching to, an entirely VoIP system.||If a company has a large investment in a traditional PBX system and uses many traditional (analog) phones, then the argument to go with an on-site virtual PBX becomes stronger. It’s easier to integrate analog phones with a PBX if it’s local instead of hosted remotely.|
Apart from the specific factors mentioned above, there is one other consideration that can help companies decide between a hosted and an on-site phone system. While difficult to quantify, this concept is one of the most influential in modern business strategy. It is known as the strategy of “core competencies,” and it all boils down to focus.
The strategy of core competencies states that businesses should focus on what they do well and what they do better than their competitors—and keep their focus there. If some element of their operations that is not directly related to these core competencies can be outsourced, it often makes more sense commercially to do so.
Many businesses switch to hosted phone systems for the simple reason that phone systems are not one of their core competencies. Placing management of the phone system in the hands of companies who do specialize in it shifts that burden there—and frees the other companies to focus on what they do best.
If telephone communication is central to what a business does (for example, a call center), it may be preferable to keep the phone system as close to the office as possible. But for the majority of companies—those that consider phone service important, but perhaps not central to their business model—hosting the system off-site is more often preferable.