Should you get VoIP for your small business? When it's time to choose a voice system platform, Twinstate Technologies makes it easy to discover the best VoIP phone service for your small businesses. Finding the right VoIP phone system for your needs is a matter of asking the right questions -- of both your potential service provider and yourself.
Should your small business get VoIP?
Let's look at the three major platforms that dominate the market for voice systems: Appliance-based, Virtual PBX, and Cloud.
Whether you go with digital or voice over IP, with an appliance-based system, you purchase a proprietary CPU from a manufacturer, fill it with cards (if digital, proprietary circuit cards), and plug it into your phones. According to Twinstate's Vice President of Sales Jim Tynan, "It's the traditional model everyone has mostly moved out of, but it's still being offered today."
Using VoIP is the same as using an appliance-based system, except that you're choosing IP phones instead of digital, explains Tynan. You'll still need to purchase a proprietary CPU, but will buy a license instead of proprietary circuit cards, and then implement that out of your own network.
"It works, it's strong, and it's highly reliable," says Tynan. "If you aren't deeply interested in virtualization, and don't have a major business continuity need, this could really work for you."
With a virtual VoIP PBX you implement a software driven voice application on your network. That application can reside in your on-premise virtual infrastructure, in an off-premise data center, or in some combination of the two. This software-driven model provides choice in implementation, gives the end user control over how the VoIP application is deployed and is highly resilient.
Says Tynan, "You'll get the benefit of putting voice into a virtual architecture, with all the benefits of virtualization for other data, like backup, support and business continuity." You can replicate voice in an off-site location, and have multiple instances running on virtual servers so you can move from one to the other on the fly, giving you increased uptime. In addition, explains Tynan, voice virtualization works with your current disaster recovery planning.
"When you’re in a virtualized voice platform whatever you did for your data now works for voice. You don't have to have a separate set of management tools or parameters or DR plans. It now all goes right along with the data," he says. "And in the event of a disaster, the last thing you want is one more thing you have to manage."
The cloud is the right choice if you've made the determination that you don't want to own applications, just use them. Choosing this platform means you'll pay a per user subscription fee.
A hosted solution will allow you to deploy quickly, mostly because the infrastructure is already built. If your internal infrastructure isn't fully formed or updated, you may need to complete several projects before you can deploy your own voice solution, but with a hosted environment, you could deploy within 30 days regardless of the size of your implementation.
Asking the Right Questions about Small Business VoIP
With any voice platform, your needs necessarily include minimizing downtime and increasing clarity and speed to improve customer experience. Each of the three platforms described above can allow for that, so it's important to assess each platform with reference to your other needs.
Consider, too, your future needs. If today you decide you want to use a standalone, proprietary solution, but you know that in three years, you'll want to use VMWare, and in the future, move to the cloud, you'll need to know that you can get the same infrastructure experience in all three without a required reinvestment.
Finally, if you opt for a hosted solution, you'll want to ask about uptime guarantees.