Thinking of switching your business to a cloud based PBX provider? Cloud-based PBX systems offer considerable cost savings for businesses like yours. Plus, you get the convenience of managing your PBX system from any electronic device while also avoiding the need for physical equipment.
With all of these advantages in mind, let’s take a closer look at how cloud-based PBX providers work – and which provider is right for your business.
What is Cloud PBX?
Cloud PBX is a type of public branch exchange (PBX) system that uses cloud computing technology. With cloud computing, data is stored and transferred over the internet instead of being stored on the user’s own computer or a piece of hardware owned by the end user.
Cloud PBX goes by a few different names: many companies advertise their cloud PBX services as hosted PBX or virtual PBX solutions, for example.
Cloud technology has been around for many years, although it’s only recently become more popular for consumer use. Today, cloud storage services, cloud-based antivirus programs, and cloud PBX systems all allow companies to enjoy considerable cost savings while eliminating the need to have physical hardware on-premise.
Cloud PBX systems also take full advantage of mobile devices and other expanding technologies, making it easy for customers to bring their own devices to the network.
Advantages of Cloud Based PBX Providers
Cloud based PBX providers offer a number of advantages over traditional providers, including:
- Access the data and services of the cloud from any device connected to the internet (which means you can enjoy all of the standard PBX features without the need for an actual PBX in your home or office)
- Easily connect mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, to the PBX and allow these devices to handle incoming and outgoing calls from wherever they have internet, which is great if your employees are often on-the-go
- Avoid losing everything when your physical PBX equipment goes down (everything is stored remotely, so your data is never lost)
- No hardware required, which can reduce your equipment costs and maintenance problems
- Upgrades are delivered to your system instantly, instead of having to call a technician to install upgrades directly to your PBX equipment
- Save considerable amounts of money over traditional PBX
That last benefit is the most valuable benefit. Traditional PBX systems are typically priced around $5,000, including the cost of installation and new equipment fees. You may need to pay an additional $300 or $500 for upkeep and internet connection fees, or even more if your PBX requires a human operator.
Cloud-based PBX providers, on the other hand, are priced at as little as $14.99 per month.
The other big advantage is mobility: companies with employees who are frequently outside of the office can access the PBX system from wherever they go. That includes online faxing service and the ability to take inbound calls just as easily as if they were in the office.
Ultimately, companies with multiple employees function better with PBX systems. In fact, it’s virtually impossible for larger companies to efficiently function without strong PBX service. Thanks to cloud-based PBX providers, you don’t have to spend a fortune to bring PBX functionality to your office.
How Does Cloud PBX Work?
Cloud PBX works by connecting your business’s calling platform to the internet using VoIP.
That’s why in order to use cloud PBX, you must first have a VoIP or other IP system in place.
Your cloud PBX system can be accessed with a personalized account from any device that can run the cloud PBX interface software. In general, any device with an internet connection and the ability to run the cloud PBX interface software (like an app) will be able to connect to your cloud PBX system.
Typically, accessing the cloud PBX system on-the-go is as easy as logging in with a password or security question from that device.
On the service provider’s end of things, the provider is in charge of storing and managing all of the data associated with your cloud PBX system. Calls are connected to their recipients over the internet by the service provider. The service provider also backs up all of the relevant information that you want it to store in case of a loss of data if the computer crashes.
Ultimately, cloud PBX works by connecting your calls over the internet (i.e. “the cloud) through your service provider to a recipient.
The Best Cloud Based PBX Providers Available Today
Today, a wide range of cloud based PBX providers have risen to meet the demands of the corporate world. Here are the top cloud-based PBX providers available today.
RingCentral’s virtual PBX systems come with no required hardware and promise to provide seamless connectivity to users. There’s no complex hardware to install or maintain and no technical expertise required. It’s just a simple, straightforward PBX system.
Just like with all other cloud based PBX providers here, RingCentral delivers updates directly over the system instantly without the need for costly repairs or on-site upgrades. You can also access your phone system from anywhere you have an internet connection.
RingCentral is also known for its online faxing services, which means you can easily handle incoming and outgoing faxes over your RingCentral cloud PBX.
Other features offered through RingCentral cloud-based PBX service include:
- Easily manage your system using your online account and user-friendly interface
- Use smartphones and tablets for calls and managing your system on the go (download the free RingCentral apps)
- Connect multiple offices, onsite staff, and remote employees under one phone system and allow all employees to enjoy the same phone and fax capabilities
- Sophisticated call management customizable from your online interface, including the ability to create extensions for departments, users, and all your devices
- Standard cloud PBX features like music on hold, auto-receptionist, multi-level auto-attendant, extensions, dial-by-name directory, unified messaging, call monitoring, and single sign-on
RingCentral offers a free 30 day trial for its cloud-based PBX system.
OnSIP, best known for its SIP trunking services, also offers a full hosted PBX solution. This hosted PBX solution can work directly with the OnSIP trunking services or you can pair it with another trunking service.
OnSIP’s virtual PBX service is actually a bit different from its competitors. OnSIP hosted PBX services use geographically-distributed servers across America to find the best route for your calls. Other services – like the other cloud based PBX providers listed on this page – typically work by renting out space on a server in one single datacenter.
What does this mean for you? It means that there’s no difference between you adding 500 new users or 500 customers adding 1 user. It also means that there’s a big redundancy system in place, since all services and data are delivered across a wide network of servers, routers, and network hardware.
OnSIP, like RingCentral, also offers a 30 day free trial that lets you try out the full range of features without paying upfront.
Jive is a popular virtual PBX provider that lets you bundle all of your phone services and PBX needs with one company. Some of the features customers enjoy with Jive include:
- Customize call flows in real-time
- Utilize the proprietary Jive technology called the Dial Plan Editor
- Add auto-attendants, extensions, and more to your cloud PBX system
- View advanced call analytics to gain insights into how your company handles calling and customers
- Take calls on any device
- Integrate with third party systems
- Enjoy US-based customer support
Jive also works with most popular business phone models, including the major handsets offered by Cisco, Polycom, and Panasonic – so BYOD is easy.
8×8 is a leader in the VoIP and PBX industries. Its cloud PBX services are used by businesses across America. The company prides itself on offering free access to enterprise-class features that other providers charge a premium for.
Some of the key features of the cloud PBX services offered by 8×8 include:
- No need to buy, lease, or pay maintenance fees on a complex PBX system at your office
- Manage all of your local, long distance, international calls, and PBX system from one single company
- Put all employees under the same phone system regardless of their physical location
- All plans include features like auto attendant, extension dialing, hosted PBX, music on hold, and instant messaging, which is pretty standard for cloud PBX service providers
- Where 8×8 really shines, however, is in offering premium features for which other providers charge, including instant messaging, conference bridge, virtual office call recording, online meetings, mobile support, Salesforce (and other CRM platforms) integration, caller ID, call forwarding, business SMS, 3 way calling, group call pickup, voicemail to email, and more
8×8 also promises to help scale with your company, making it easy to seamlessly add new lines and extensions as your company gets larger.
Ultimately, cloud-based PBX providers offer the most cost-effective solution for modern businesses. At a fraction of the cost of traditional PBX systems, cloud-based PBX offers considerably more features and easier accessibility. What’s not to like?
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