At one time, telecommunications meant stringing wires between telephone poles and, for the most sophisticated organizations, a PBX system that allowed multiple users to connect to those phone lines at the same time.

Today, organizations have a choice of three communications architectures: an on-premises system, a cloud-based system, or a hybrid setup that combines elements of both.

Here’s how they work, the pros and cons of each, and important considerations when moving from one architecture to another.

On-Premises Systems

Prior to the internet, all communications systems were located on-premises. There simply was no alternative. Even today, many organizations—especially hospitals with mission-critical needs—rely on-premises systems.

This architecture has several advantages, a few disadvantages, and one major vulnerability.

First, organizations can use their existing legacy equipment, which may avoid significant expenses for upgrades. Second, organizations have complete control over the management of their systems. Systems can be more secure against outside hackers and are much less dependent on outside technology.

However, having a system based on a specific location means that, if something happens—such as a fire or flood that restricts building access or damages the telephone lines—communications may become difficult or impossible.

Some organizations that operate in a virtual environment, such as VMWare, Nutanix, or Microsoft Hyper-V, often find that on-premises systems work well for them.

Cloud-Based Systems

A pure cloud architecture, where the system is completely hosted in the cloud, is by far the most future-proof set-up. Cloud-based systems are also the most flexible and disaster-proof, thanks to built-in redundancy. Systems that use SD-WAN technology are as reliable as on-premises systems, while offering the advantage of multiple connections; if one fails, the system can switch to another connection. Cloud-based systems make it easy to add capabilities, from integrating voice, data, text, and email in an omnichannel-enabled contact center to artificial intelligence (AI) and interactive voice response (IVR).

When VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems were first introduced, internet circuits were not as robust as they needed to be. Today, standard operating procedure at VOIP Networks is to install a private, dedicated circuit from each client’s facility to our data center, which provides a stable, redundant connection and built-in business continuity.

When evaluating a cloud-based system, one important consideration (and a key question to ask a potential service provider) is whether the provider uses multi-tenant or multi-instance architecture. The difference is significant: a multi-tenant system hosts multiple organizations on a single platform, while multi-instance means each organization has its own dedicated virtual servers for each unique application (e.g., phone system servers, contact center servers, call recording servers, etc.). Multi-tenant is cheaper, but multi-instance is far more flexible, scalable, and secure.

A white paper by Frost & Sullivan, a Silicon Valley growth consulting firm, highlighted these benefits of cloud-based systems named by decision-makers at a variety of firms:

  • Ease of use: cited by 88%
  • Access to advanced capabilities and expertise: 85%
  • Deployment speed: 85%
  • Lower total cost of ownership: 84%
  • Ability to store increasingly large amounts of customer and interaction data: 84%
  • Flexibility and scalability: 82%
  • Ability to support a distributed workforce: 82%
  • Here’s how VOIP Networks uses those strategies.

A final thing to keep in mind: Using a public cloud solution from Google, Amazon, or Microsoft can be very expensive, with limited choices. VOIP Networks maintains and manages its own Tier III+ data centers, which significantly reduces costs and provides multiple options for clients.

Hybrid Systems

A system that combines on-premises and cloud-based architecture can be an excellent solution for organizations that aren’t ready to make the leap to a cloud-based system. Organizations can use much of their existing equipment, while adding capabilities and facilitating future expansion.

Some organizations, for example, maintain an on-premises system in their main facility and move satellite offices into the cloud. End users enjoy a seamless experience, and migrating additional locations is relatively simple.

The Benefits of VOIP Networks

VOIP Networks has extensive experience in all three communications architectures, dating back to 1981, when on-premises systems were the only option. We can help companies select the architecture that works best for them or migrate an organization from an existing architecture to a new system. All clients receive U.S.-based, white-glove support 24/7.

If you’re still considering your communication options, why not test-drive a system? VOIP Networks can install a proof-of-concept test system that allows you to experience a proposed solution before full deployment. For more information, or to discuss your communications needs, please contact us.

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If your organization needs a secure, flexible, and scalable communications solution backed by white-glove service, please contact us for a free consultation.