Monday, April 15, 2013

To The Cloud! The Many Flavors of Cloud Services

With today’s dynamic office environments, cloud services are proving to be a surefire way to reduce costs and streamline operations. But what does it really mean ‘to move to the cloud’? Such a nebulous word, ‘the cloud’ means different things to different people depending on their needs. 

For some, the cloud means a storage locker in the sky; a place to save documents, pictures and videos online so that they can be stored, accessed and even shared whenever and from where ever there is Internet connection.

Not only has this made our personal lives easier (we no longer need to e-mail documents to ourselves or burn a CD of vacation pictures for family and friends), but businesses are looking into cloud-based data storage in support of protection efforts such as replication, backup, archiving, and disaster recovery.  

For others, the cloud serves as a way to provide cost effective and scalable voice and data services. This means big bucks in agents’ pockets because small to medium sized businesses can get big business presence on a small business budget. Commonly known as hosted communications or digital phone service, voice is provided over an IP backbone (the cloud) – the PBX and service is fully managed offsite by the provider. Cloud-based phone service provides more robust functionality beginning with crisp, clear voice quality and an abundance of features not available with traditional phone service. Since the service is completely outsourced and the PBX does not reside at the customer’s premises, upgrades are automatically provided by the provider in the background so there aren't any costs to upgrade.

With cloud-based digital phone service, customers can make and receive calls from any device and from any location with only one number, one voice mail box, one set of unified features, and all under one calling plan! More about digital phone features.  

When shopping for a quality cloud-based voice solution for your customers, it is important to compare the features and options each provider offers. Not every cloud-based phone service is created equal.

Here are some things to look for: 

  • Nationwide Tier 1 network 
  • Competitive rates – be sure you are paying one price for unlimited calls (both domestic and international) 
  • Feature rich and included with the price of plan
  •  Look for a provider that doesn't require a dedicated Internet connection, otherwise you will not be able to move your office for disaster recovery, telecommuting, etc.
  • Backed by a reliable network service provider, service level agreements, and an infrastructure designed to provide business continuity 
  • Professional support and customer service

Learn more about TouchTone’s cloud-based digital phone service

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