Onsite, Cloud or Hybrid: 4 Questions To Help You Decide

    Making the case for switching to a VoIP phone system is easy: Lower operational costs, powerful collaboration features and effective productivity tools make VoIP technologies very attractive. Even so, determining the best approach to deploying your business phone system requires careful thought.

    There are three ways to deploy VoIP -- onsite, in the cloud or through a hybrid approach. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. It all comes down to what’s right for your business. Organizational goals, network requirements, budget and IT resources should all play into your decision. Asking the four questions below will help clarify which deployment option is the best choice for your organization:

    1.  What are your organization’s future plans?  

    If your company is growing rapidly or experiences seasonal fluctuations, you need a solution that can scale to meet your needs. With a cloud-based system, new remote offices or staff can be added quickly and easily. For businesses that have just invested in new equipment, an onsite or hybrid solution is likely a better choice. Why? Because each of these deployments will enable you to fully amortize your investment. A hybrid solution also offers flexibility for businesses that aren’t quite ready to fully embrace the cloud. This option removes the pressure to make a complete switch by providing a clear migration path to a cloud-based system.

    2.  Do you want to maintain full control of your phone system?

    Some organizations – particularly large enterprises – prefer to own, maintain and control their business communications network. They’re highly protective of their technology infrastructure and data, and for them an onsite system may be a better fit.

    Other businesses, including many SMBs, value the resource efficiencies that come with a cloud system. Organizations with limited IT resources and lean budgets often find it more convenient and economical to outsource the management of their phone system

    And then there are those organizations that favor both the control of an onsite system and the flexibility of the cloud, especially if their operations span a central location and several satellite offices. For these businesses, hybrid phone systems – which combine both onsite and cloud offerings – provide the best of both worlds.

    3.  Do you have the time and resources to manage your phone system?

    Be sure to carefully assess the size, workload and expertise of your IT staff. Small businesses especially often have very small IT teams – sometimes comprised of a single individual or a part-time contractor. Though lean, these teams juggle the full range of tech needs, from building the company’s next product to conducting maintenance of day-to-day systems.

    On top of that, they may not have phone system expertise. That means it can take longer to get your phones back up and running if there’s an outage.

    If this description fits your company, choose a cloud or hybrid solution. The vendor will take over phone system maintenance, freeing your IT staff to work on higher value projects.

    4.  CapEx, OpEx or a combination of both?

    Your budget priorities are a bottom line guide to choosing the right deployment solution. Enterprises typically make investments in equipment because doing so makes better financial sense over time. In this case, an onsite or hybrid phone system is usually the best choice. It allows the firm to leverage existing IT hardware investments and maximize the capital expenditure (CapEx) benefits of depreciation and amortization of onsite equipment.

    By contrast, a business in growth mode is more likely to gravitate to a cloud solution. The more flexible operating expense (OpEx) budget model is a better way to fund a phone system that may need to scale up or down to adapt to changing business conditions.

    No matter your answers to these questions, the main takeaway is the same: VoIP phone systems offer a great deal of flexibility. Organizations can choose the system that fits their needs at any particular moment in time. And whatever deployment they choose, they can be confident their VoIP phone system can be adapted in real-time to their current situation.

    Take the Best Fit Assessment

    With all the options available today, there’s no time like the present to give your phone system a second look. Today’s unified communications (UC) technologies go beyond telephony by seamlessly integrating applications used by workers every day, no matter their device or location. UC solutions can improve collaboration, productivity and overall business performance, so choosing the deployment model that will best meet your needs is key.

    If you’re struggling with which option to choose – onsite, cloud or hybrid – take our Best Fit assessment. Learn which deployment option might be your best fit when it comes to a new phone system. Completion of the assessment will automatically qualify you for a drawing to win an Amazon Echo valued at $180.

    Learn more about ShoreTel cloud, onsite and hybrid business phone and unified communications for every business.