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Upgrading to Hosted VoIP: 4 Items for Your Transition Checklist

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Upgrading to Hosted VoIP

Upgrading to Hosted VoIP: 4 Items for Your Transition Checklist

When was the last time you overhauled one of your core business systems, such as your PBX? Even with modern options like cloud PBX now available, it might have been a while. After all, traditional PBX implementations can last for up to a decade and they are often abandoned only after physically failing or becoming unsupported by their vendors.

 Indeed, many organizations wait too long to upgrade essential infrastructure. While new technology is constantly coming to market, they often stand pat, typically out of concerns about the associated costs and compatibility issues, as well as the overall experience for their users. This approach is common with PBXes and most other IT assets.

 

Why making the upgrade is the right move most of the time

To get a sense of the broader problem, just look at the current market share of operating systems (OSes). Through October 2017, the 8-year-old Microsoft Windows 7 was still more popular than Windows 10, while even Windows XP had twice as many users as Apple's latest macOS.

Although OSes are technically very different beasts than PBXes, they are often retained far past their primes for the same reasons – they're familiar and holding on to them seems more cost-effective than purchasing replacements. In reality, clinging to legacy platforms and traditional PBXes is usually much more expensive than simply implementing newer alternatives, like a fresh OS or a hosted VoIP solution. 

For example, Microsoft estimated that a PC running XP cost over four times as much to maintain as one running Windows 10, due to pricey maintenance, security flaws and other complications. With phone systems, there is a similar price to pay, in terms of missed opportunities to support mobile/remote workers, along with exorbitant miscellaneous fees for services like long distance.

Hosted VoIP is a superior option in this case, but only if it is implemented properly. Let's map out a PBX transition plan in more detail.

 

Upgrading to hosted VoIP the right way: 4 items for your transition checklist

Implementation planning is important because without it, there's the risk that your new hosted VoIP platform won't provide all the benefits you initially expected. Finding the right partners to work with is generally crucial in ensuring the ultimate value of a VoIP project. More specifically, you should pay attention to these considerations:

1. Are my LAN and WAN ready?

VoIP is a demanding application, requiring real-time performance on corporate networks already strained by many other types of traffic. It is highly sensitive to jitter, latency and packet loss. Accordingly, both the LAN and WAN should be assessed beforehand to make sure they can deliver acceptable VoIP service.

The good news is that there are multiple options for shoring up your network connectivity in advance of a VoIP installation. You might opt to segment VoIP traffic onto a virtual LAN (aka VLAN), add metro Ethernet or broadband internet to MPLS for more bandwidth and/or work with the VoIP service provider.

2. Is my networking equipment outdated?

This is where repeated delays in overhauling the networks can catch up with you. Aging routers and switches can hinder a hosted VoIP platform from the get-go, leading to dropped calls and degraded voice quality.

One of the most frequent issues is trouble with Quality of Service (QoS). Without robust QoS functionality, legacy networking equipment will struggle to prioritize VoIP traffic over less critical data such as instant messages and bulk file transfers.

If you've stuck with the same PBX infrastructure for five-plus years, it's probably time to switch it out for devices capable of supporting hosted VoIP service. As with the first item on our list, it's a good idea to collaborate with a VoIP provider to find the right assets for your new hosted PBX.

3. How well secured is my VoIP traffic?

It's easy to do too much or too little when trying to protect your VoIP users:

  • On the one hand, an existing firewall configuration might block VoIP traffic and require careful opening of specific ports to allow it through.
  • On the other, VoIP data might pass over unencrypted connections or through poorly secured data center facilities, making it interceptable.

Select a VoIP provider that will take care of your traffic. Strong security pays in the long run, since it reduces the chances of a costly data breach. The Ponemon Institute has estimated that the average such incident comes with a multimillion-dollar price tag.

4. Are my users prepared for the switchover?

The ultimate benefits of hosted VoIP are for your users. It should make them more productive via key features such as forwarding calls inbound to an office number to any mobile device.

But first you have to make them aware of these capabilities and get sufficient buy-in. Education is important in raising awareness and also in discouraging shadow IT - i.e., the practice of using unauthorized solutions (especially social media apps with voice and data functions) as alternatives to IT-approved systems.

Ready to get started with hosted VoIP? Contact Telesystem today to find out more about how we'll help you navigate these four requirements and many others in finding a cloud PBX that is right for you.

 

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