Cloud PBX Phone Systems for Businesses

Everyone seems to be talking about "The Cloud" but it is not often clear exactly what is meant by this statement as it is often used in a very vague manner, and can cover literally thousands of different technologies and services, one of them being cloud-based PBX technology or Cloud VoIP.

Cloud PBX

What is Cloud Based PBX Phone System and What it Means to Businesses?

If you are over 30 years in age, it is highly likely that for the better part of your life you have used non-cloud services which are effectively software products that you have purchased, and then loaded locally onto your computer. There is no need for any Internet connection to use these software tools. Some simple examples of this type of software are Microsoft Office tools and Window's file manager. Everything is basically stored and used locally on your computer. To make this relevant to the subject at hand, up until recently, businesses had an on-site PBX (Private Branch eXchange) phone system that controlled the office phones and managed the connection to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Basically, there was a large piece of equipment in a storage cupboard somewhere on-site that routed phone calls in and out of your business.

The use of these legacy phone systems is being phased out by most businesses at a fast rate as huge cost savings can be attained by switching over and using a PBX in the cloud.

To put it simply, "The Cloud" is basically a bunch of servers that are accessible via the Internet. Going back to the example above, instead of having Microsoft Office tools on your local computer you can access something like Google Drive and use Office tools in the cloud (the tools are in the cloud and you store your files in the cloud too).

So when it comes to a business phone system being in the cloud, it simply means that the server (PBX) that controls the phones is accessible over the Internet. So the PBX is in the cloud now rather than on-site. All the calling features that existed in the on-site PBX are now are in the cloud. This can bring many benefits, as discussed later. The only equipment you need on-site are the IP phones (phones that are designed to connect directly to an Internet connection rather than the older analog landline based phones). You wil also need a high speed Internet connection to use this technology.

Cloud PBX Terminology

Many terms are already being associated with this technology:

Cloud Based PBX = PBX in the Cloud = Cloud hosted PBX = PBX Cloud = Cloud VoIP = Cloud Communications

This covers most of the "cloud" related names that are being used when referencing this technology, but more common names for this service offering are business VoIP, hosted VoIP, hosted PBX, and Virtual PBX, amongst others. These names all refer to the same technology and sometimes it simply comes down to how each provider markets their services.

Benefits of Having a PBX System in the Cloud

There are many benefits to using a PBX cloud solution or a Cloud-based VoIP phone service. Some of which are:

No On-Site Equipment Required

You no longer need the phone equipment on-site as it is hosted remotely. This can provide multiple cost benefits, including savings from maintenance costs, programming costs, and costs associated with moving the equipment if your business moved locations.

Maintenance Free and Easy Set-Up

The only on-site equipment required when using a Cloud PBX solution are the IP phones. There is no equipment to manage and maintain, which means you do not have to find a PBX specialist to maintain it. All phone system set up and changes are done through a secure online portal or through your service provider. This means it is easy to set up and maintain.

Cost Savings

As mentioned above there are multiple cost savings of a cloud PBX system over an on-premise system. Installation costs can be high if getting new equipment (in the thousands). With a cloud solution maintenance costs are low to zero andt he actual phone service is cheaper, including lower regulatory service fees.

Mobile Capabilities

Working in the 21st century means staying connected. Smartphones and stable high speed Internet services at home help keep employees connected 24/7 whether on the road, telecommuting, or even on vacation. Mobile capabilities with a Cloud PBX solution makes sure we do not miss that important call.

Productivity

As VoIP has matured so has the features and capabilities. Integrations are one area of features that has grown tremendously in recent years, including integrations such as Outlook and CRM's (Salesforce etc.). Another is presence and instant messaging, as well as conferencing.

Contracts

There are typically no long term contracts. Most providers will offer pricing for month to month service. Some providers do offer longer contract terms in return for lower pricing.

Cloud PBX Providers and Reviews

There are many Cloud PBX providers available to businesses of all sizes. When considering moving to a cloud solution it is important to compare multiple providers to make sure you make the right decision for your business needs.

As with any potential purchase, the smart shopper will read a user review or two as part of the research process in trying to identify the best offering and fit for their business or home. The WhichVoIP cloud PBX provider reviews are identical to the business VoIP reviews as these providers typically use business VoIP as the terminology that they market with as opposed to the cloud-based PBX approach. Again, likely because the cloud term is a little vague and confusing to most people outside of IT, such as small business owners.

You can view ALL Cloud PBX providers that we have user submitted reviews for at the following link: Cloud PBX Providers

Best Cloud PBX Providers

As we mentioned above, there are hundreds of providers who offer this service across North America and it can be extremely challenging to research and ultimately find the best solution for a business. This lengthy list includes some very popular providers such as Vonage Business, RingCentral, 8x8 and Jive to name but a few. As can be seen from different opinions in different review pages, like every service, it is always very subjective as to what people think of it. So in determining the best cloud PBX solution for a business, it is recommended that potential buyers start by researching user reviews and then get some comparison pricing information by using the WhichVoIP free quote request form or by using our comparison table below.

Consumers seeking cloud based VoIP phone service for the home should refer to the WhichVoIP residential VoIP comparison section for more information.

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Provider* Highlights Startup Reviews More Info
  • Get First Month Free!
  • Simple to Use for Admins/Users
  • No Fees for Add-ons/Upgrades/Features
  • Unlimited Calls, from $19.95/mo
Free Trial 4.6

Read Reviews
  • Trusted by 50,000+ Customers
  • Powerful Communication Features
  • Fast, Easy, Free Setup & Install
  • Unlimited Calls, Flexible Pricing
30-day Money Back 4.6

Read Reviews
  • Find a better deal? We'll match it
  • Trusted by 350,000+ Businesses
  • Includes 100+ Premium Features
  • Unlimited Calls/Fax/SMS/Conferencing
Free Trial 4.5

Read Reviews
  • Includes Phones on Select Plans
  • Outstanding Reliability
  • Incredible Features
Cancel Anytime 4.8

Read Reviews
  • Free Phones with sign-up
  • No Contract, No Commitment
  • USA Based Customer Support
Free Trial 4.9

Read Reviews

What Does Using a PBX in the Cloud Cost?

You should expect to see prices ranging anywhere from $19.99 per seat up to $39.99 per seat depending on the total number of users that you get the quotes for. Most companies provide discounts and have tiered pricing levels depending on how many phone users will be using the system. The key thing is to negotiate and get the comparison quotes as otherwise, if you only get one quote and do not use a free quote service, the provider will not be as motivated to offer the best pricing. Why will this be the case? Well, the provider assumes they are dealing with you exclusively if you do not educate yourself and get additional quotes to use as leverage for pricing negotiations.

Most providers offer service with no contracts so it is cheap and easy to jump in and try a solution. Many will offer a free trial or a 30-day money back guarantee, which allows you to test their system before fully committing. You can run these tests before deciding to port your number over to the new provider, reducing the friction to make a change. If you are not happy, then change providers but make sure you have investment protection for any up front purchases such as IP Phones. You can even get a trial phone from some providers. Use it for a few weeks and see how it works for you.

For residential users seeking cloud VoIP solutions, prices are ridiculously cheap with some plans starting at $4.50 per month. However, the downside of home services is often limited customer support, which can be a problem for a business as their phone service can be their lifeline. If there are issues then a business will want a quick fix.

Conclusion

Cloud PBX is a popular choice for a businesses phone solution and it is critical to evaluate provider options and pricing, as it could save a business a lot of money and a lot of hassle. We always recommend trialing a system before fully committing and many providers offer free trials or money back guarantees.

Published by WhichVoIP


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