An unbiased look at how to choose the right voice path for your business
The definition and difference:
A Private Branch Exchange (PBX) solution (also known as an IP PBX) is dependent on a voice server kept on-site in the equipment/server closet. Physical phones are located throughout the office. Calls can route through a traditional phone company as well as over the internet using SIP trunking.
Hosted PBX is a cloud voice solution where the provider manages/maintains the voice server in a cloud data center. The only equipment in the office are physical phones. Calls route over the internet using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking.
On-Premise PBX • Cost – higher upfront costs and set-up fee. Above certain threshold it might be cheaper to own equipment than pay a monthly fee, but servicing and maintenance can get expensive. When using only basic call features with >25 phones per store, total cost of ownership is less over 5-year period • Scalability – purchase phones to expand (in addition to any licensing required). PBX needs to be able to accommodate growth and possibility of complexity with added features • Failover – if issue with PBX in store, calling is affected and potentially down until PBX can be repaired via service contract • Features – find Me / Follow Me feature requires adding a mobility server to each PBX – can become expensive • Presence, tablet/mobile apps for wireless calling can be added– usually works together with Find Me / Follow Me for seamless use across devices • Maintenance – managed services contract (with phone vendor) required for software patching and maintenance to ensure security and uptime • Changes to system settings require PBX in store to be adjusted on-site by phone vendor or internal IT team • Can leverage traditional phone company service (PRI) for inbound/outbound calling, or SIP trunks over the internet PRI is not affected by quality or busyness of internet connection • Handsets do not contain a lot of features/functionality - providers push users to use the desktop application
Hosted PBX • Cost – usually low upfront costs, monthly fee per user. Typically low total cost of ownership as hosted provider takes care of server configuration, maintenance and software patching • Scalability – purchased or leased IP phones added to service plan, picking and canceling numbers and moving phone system is easy and quick • Failover – calls can be rerouted to cell phones if issue with SIP trunk quality, power at store or catastrophic event. Safeguards at off-site facility includes back up power sources, geographic redundancy of data centers, active-active failover of servers, etc. • Features – can integrate into CRM for advanced customer analytics • Can integrate contact center-life features for advanced call routing or call analytics for advanced reporting • Dedicated internet bandwidth required to maintain high call quality of SIP trunks • Tablet/mobile app allows users to make/receive phone calls from app over wifi/cellular connections • Presence allows users to see who is available and on the phone within store • Find Me / Follow Me feature included – will ring desk phone, tablet, cell phone all at once or in order • Maintenance – no managed services contract required – provider performs software patching, maintenance, upgrades of PBX in the cloud • Changes to system settings performed through online portal for remote management • Handsets do not contain a lot of features/functionality – providers push users to use desktop/mobile app