Phone calls in the cloud: the hows and whats
Making phone calls as if you were in the office, with your fixed and mobile phones and computer integrated, via a switchboard running in a cloud environment: that’s cloud telephony in a nutshell.
But how exactly does it work? And how can you use it to give your customers even better service? We explain below.
Cloud telephony is a form of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS): it integrates all kinds of communication – we make phone calls or video calls and chat via fixed and mobile phones and computers, via a single platform that you don't have standing around in a room or cellar of your own, but so to speak rent from a third party. Quite a difference from forty years or so ago, when you still needed a real, physical telephone switchboard to confer easily and live with your customers and colleagues. If you wanted to talk to someone, you took the receiver off the hook, waited for the dial tone and dialled or keyed in your contact’s number –
using the telephone, there was no other option.
We still call back and forth by phone a lot. Many companies therefore still have a physical telephone switchboard, better known as a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system which connects all the internal phones with each other, but also enables you to call the outside world. But you don't need to have that expensive switchboard in-house at all any more. So you don't have to buy it, and above all you no longer have to take care of the expensive management, security or associated extra servers: thanks to the internet, you can just take a switchboard in the cloud instead of this hardware. All your calls will go not just via the internet, but via a server belonging to a host – such as Destiny. And that single switchboard in the cloud immediately takes care of all telecom traffic in your company, regardless of whether you work at one location or from five, ten or twenty other offices. Home working? That's no problem either: your cloud switchboard can handle it all.
Curious about the many advantages of the switchboard in the cloud? Download our free white paper here and read all about them.
You’ll not only save on the expensive purchase and equally expensive management of a physical switchboard by taking a cloud switchboard: you won't have to buy an assortment of fixed phone devices, because your colleagues can just access each other and your customers via their computer (using a softphone) and their smartphone. They’ll all benefit from an integrated cloud communications platform that will enable them to communicate and collaborate smoothly, and moreover has all the features that your employees were used to from their fixed phones in the office. Fixed Mobile Convergence or FMC is the name for this merger of your fixed and mobile devices. You can read about how it works exactly and about the advantages in this blog.
Almost all cloud telephony platforms currently use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This technology – the name says it – transmits your voice via the IP network. Specifically, your voice is digitised and sent to the recipient in digital packets through the internet or a local network. After that, the sound is decoded and converted back into speech. Naturally, all this happens at lightning speed.
You can always decide to have your VoIP system run via an in-house PBX – call it a box in your server room. But it’s even easier just to have your switchboard operate via the cloud.
A cloud switchboard has quite a few advantages, but these are the main ones:
- Price: above all, it’s more cost-effective than a traditional telephone switchboard, because you no longer need to invest in hardware which will always have a sell-by date anyway – the software in the cloud grows with you, so to speak, and you always have access to the latest new version. What's more, you don't have to buy extra devices for every employee, because they simply communicate with their computer (laptop or desktop) and smartphone.
- Flexibility (1): when you hire someone new, you just add that person's profile by clicking a button. No more long, involved processes.
- Flexibility (2): your employees are no longer dependent on a physical place to work. They do always need their phone, but by “phone” we don't mean the physical device, but their own number and preferences. As long as they have an internet connection, they can communicate smoothly with each other. And that's a huge advantage in these times of home working.
But above all, it’s the integration with other software applications that makes a VoIP switchboard really worthwhile. For all the advantages of VoIP, read this blog.
Can anyone install an IP/VoIP switchboard just like that? Yes and no. You do have to satisfy a number of technical conditions properly. You will find here a more detailed explanation about the equipment required to work with an IP/VoIP switchboard.