Black and white issue?

Black and white issue?

Simon Barnard of Micro-P
Simon Barnard of Micro-P

Simon Barnard, General Manager of Technical Sales at distributor Micro-P, holds the view that no ‘battle lines’ need drawing between hosted telephony and traditional PBX and explains why.

For some years now there has been, for want of a better word, a ‘battle’ between traditional PBX and Hosted Telephony. However, here at Micro-P we believe that, in the real world, PBX and hosted are not really on opposite sides, things simply aren’t quite that black and white. We are not in a world with two alternatives opposing each other, as we are led to believe. In fact we believe that Hosted Services sits very nicely in the ‘grey’ area in the middle, where particular elements of hosted services complement a traditional PBX solution.

Hosted telephony has not had the level of uptake amongst the more voice-centric channel community as many suppliers had hoped. Some of this was of course because in the past they lacked the knowledge and experience of IP and data circuits to deploy a hosted solution with confidence, but much of it was a genuine lack of understanding of why anyone would want to pay ongoing fees for a service they could buy and own outright. Today’s real life solutions are clearly showing that businesses can and do place values on OPEX solutions, where the technology stays evergreen. Technical advances in recent years have increased both customer and reseller confidence in these solutions. With advances in carrier technology, the cost of bandwidth has reduced and more importantly, network carriers are now able to support real-time voice. With the availability of data circuits with lower contention rates and higher bandwidths, backed up by business specific SLAs, resellers today are in an ideal position to deploy Hosted Services with confidence that the network is capable of supporting real-time voice communications.

Many observers believe that the channel is moving toward a more data-centric marketplace. Data resellers are entering the voice channel, deploying voice solutions over the IT infrastructure they already manage and for these resellers a hosted solution, in many cases, is the ideal product set to focus on. Data resellers are skilled in packet routing, VLAN configuration and network

quality of service. A simple to deploy, managed, hosted service, such as that available through our exclusive partnership with TeleWare, is an easy and natural fit for Data resellers to take into their voice portfolio. Traditional PBX products may generate a high margin at the point of installation but incur for the reseller ongoing costs post installation, such as the requirements to hold and source maintenance stock and to up-skill engineers on product advancements with ongoing training and accreditation. In comparison, a Hosted Solution requires very little technical training to install as they are typically ‘zero touch’ deployments where the routing equipment and handsets configure themselves from the ‘cloud’ as they initialise and of course provides monthly ongoing revenue for the reseller for the life the solution is in service.

On the opposite side of the coin, voice resellers are entering the data market, deploying IP-based PBX systems onto their customers’ data network, both in single site and multisite configurations. This is the perfect scenario where elements of a hosted service complement a PBX installation. Utilising SIP trunking, end-users can benefit from additional trunks at a fraction of the price of traditional ISDN circuits and also utilise SIP trunks as a Disaster Recovery solution. Importantly, with hosted solutions being managed from a centralised web portal provided by the host, resellers and end-users are able to make routing configuration changes instantly and without attending site and incurring additional costs.

For Micro-P, one of the most attractive hosted services for PBX resellers to investigate is that of cloud-based IVR and call recording (both of SIP trunks and also mobile handsets). A cloud-based IVR can direct callers to extensions and ring groups across the entire estate of PBX systems without the need to network the PBX systems and these calls can automatically be recorded and accessed online. As an example, a small chain of travel agents may require call recording. To deploy trunk side call recording on site would be relatively expensive and possibly be more than the cost of the PBX systems. By utilising SIP trunks and cloud-based call recording, possibly using IVR to route calls across the sites; all calls are recorded with a minimal setup fee and ongoing costs.

To conclude, in an ideal world a hosted solution should be a component of all resellers’ portfolios. Be these resellers who lead with the product and focus on hosted IP telephony solutions or those resellers that provide a bespoke PBX solution augmented with hosted services and hosted applications. The hosted services available from Micro-P and TeleWare are incredibly flexible and cater for all vertical markets.