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Phones take to the cloud [Newcastle Journal (England)]
[January 29, 2013]

Phones take to the cloud [Newcastle Journal (England)]

(Newcastle Journal (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THOSE of us in the technology sector are well aware that the data centre is a huge growth area for the industry. However, there are still a number of voice providers who dispute the widespread consensus that data centres and cloud services are fast becoming a replacement for the traditional telephone system (PBX).

These people appear to be sceptical of cloud-based technology but as I see it, there is no real argument against the march of data centres, primarily because they make sense on so many levels.

A cloud-based PBX located off site within a secure data centre facility is not only cheaper to deploy and maintain but also provides increased resilience, contributes to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans and delivers improved support for mobile users compared to a conventional telephony platform.

Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of this and the far- reaching benefits that the cloud can bring with emphasis being placed on the significant reduction in capital investment. In these times of belt-tightening, cost reduction is a message that resonates loud and clear. That's why outsourced voice services are a no brainer for many and the same model applies to organisations looking to outsource their data and IT services.

An on-premise PBX meanwhile - as the name suggests - is located on site and requires both initial investment and ongoing maintenance. Despite this, I'm happy to accept that a hosted voice solution isn't necessarily for everyone and that it depends heavily on business size, needs, network infrastructure, planned use and growth forecasts. As a result, it's inevitable that the PBX will continue to exist in one form or another for years to come but it will have an evolving and different role. In some cases, it may still be a central component but in many of the new UC applications, the PBX already plays an increasingly minor role or is bypassed completely. One such technology is Microsoft's(R) Lync(TM) which has sparked much debate over its suitability as a PBX replacement. Essentially it is, or at least it can be, for businesses that fit a certain profile and fortunately that profile makes up a significant and growing percentage of businesses today.

As always there are a few exceptions. If the majority of your workers operate within a warehouse or on a factory floor, or if a large proportion of your employees do not have a PC then perhaps Lync is not for you. However, for many others it's a tried and tested alternative to a voice platform which combines the telephony features of a PBX with rich presence, instant messaging and conferencing capabilities.

While there is no denying that the traditional telephone system will remain in service for years to come, there is equally no denying that new, often more cost-efficient solutions are staking their claim and crowding the landscape. And as their numbers grow, it will pay to be on the inside rather than the outside looking in.

Nigel Begg is managing director of Aspire Technology Solutions Ltd (c) 2012 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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