You’ve probably heard about cloud services from a wide variety of sources. The phrase “in the cloud” has become a familiar way of saying that something is somewhere out on the internet.
But what, exactly, do we mean when we talk about internet cloud services? Simply put, cloud services provide customers with a way of accessing applications off site: Applications that aren’t running at your location.
Why is this important? Generally, it’s about cost savings and security. It’s just less expensive — and more secure — to provide access to applications that are hosted on a server in a remote data center than it is for you to purchase the software and a server to host it, plus the costs to implement the solution and maintain it.
Cloud services are also known as software as a service. The beauty of it is its simplicity, as it provides a pay-as-you-go model for an application that is hosted and maintained by a dedicated provider. There are countless examples of this, such as ATRA’s Tech Repair Center — members.atra.com — or QuickBooks online version — quickbooks.intuit.com/online.
What’s critical to using internet cloud services is having fast, reliable internet access. These days, thanks to broadband internet becoming more accessible than ever before, the internet is often referred to as the 4th utility for many businesses.
The significant change over the past is the amount of fiber available, and competition has lowered the price to where it’s common to see 50 Mbps of download speed for less than $100 per month. This is up to 20 times faster than a T1 for about a third the cost.
If your business has a reliable broadband connection, this is great news and something you should take advantage of to reduce your other telecommunications costs, by running your phone, fax, or POTS lines through your primary internet connection.
A compelling use of broadband is to run your voice traffic across this connection. This can save you a bundle by eliminating separate fees for phone calls and for maintaining a phone system.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)can replace these hardwired systems.A properly designed and implementedVoIP system will not only save you money, but also provide you and your employees several nice features that will add to your customer’s satisfaction, staff productivity and your profitability, such as:
- Single number reach, so that, if you’re away from the office, you can receive and return calls from any smartphone.
- Unified messaging so that voicemails are delivered to your email and your phone, allowing you to retrieve voicemail from outside the office from any smartphone or web-enabled device.
- Hands-free microphone so that you can communicate with your technicians in the shop without them having to walk over to a phone and pick it up to answer a call
- Customized music on hold, giving customers on hold the opportunity to learn more about your company.
- Mobile attendant console so you can monitor and manage calls from any computer, anywhere.
- Call recording and call waiting with caller ID.
- Conference calling at no additional cost.
There are a lot of benefits of switching from a hardwired landline to Voice over IP. If you’re still using the old, copper-wire solutions, I urge you to look into upgrading to VoIP for your business.