What is a Cloud Phone System?
A cloud-based telephone system is simply a communications system that is operated via the internet. Data and voice are stored and secured in a cloud server.
This type of phone system is usually hosted by a third party provider, however some suppliers host their own platform in the cloud.
There are many advantages to be gained for small to medium-sized businesses adopting a cloud-based phone system. These include:
- There is no need for the complex infrastructure copper wiring demanded by traditional phone systems, thus proving cloud-based phone systems to be cost-effective from the outset.
- Cloud-based phone systems are very quick and easy to install.
- As well as the main features found in traditional phone systems, a cloud-based phone system allows for additional possible features, for example, voice transcription to email.
- Any number of extensions can be made available.
- A cloud-based phone system can be connected to landlines, computers, laptops, cell phones, smart phones and internet business VoIP (Voiceover Internet Protocol) enabling ease of communication with mobile and off-site workers.
Mitel is one of the world's leading business communications companies, and has recently been positioned in the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner's prestigious Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
Mitel has focused more and more of its efforts into the cloud services space in recent years, and the MiCloud Enterprise solution is perhaps the best unified communications service available to large companies at the moment. It has everything a large business needs hosted in the cloud, and is managed by Mitel which reduced I.T expenses for the client.
Mitel Business is a great option for small to mid-sized companies to consider. It's extremely user friendly and is all-inclusive so there's no need to worry about common problems like upgrade cycles and hardware maintenance.
Read more: Mitel Review
8x8 Inc Virtual Office Pro
The 8x8 Inc Virtual Office Pro cloud-based business phone system is delivered together with the 8x8 Inc phone service and a Virtual Office Online web dashboard.
This phone system can provide unlimited audio and video conferencing with 1 Gigabit of storage allowing up to 35 hours of online conferencing and phone calls to be recorded.
An unlimited amount of faxes may be sent and received. Toll free fax numbers may be added to facilitate the sending of faxes from outside sources.
This company is a Gartner recognized leader of UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service).
8x8 Inc have several service plans, currently ranging from a monthly cost of $49.99, to $104.99 cents for the Global Extension Pro.
Read more: 8x8 Review
Broadview Networks Office Suite
Broadview Networks provide a complete IT and communications service with the Office Suite phone system.
They have their own code in the cloud, therefore no third party hosting is required for the use of this cloud-based telephone system.
This system is scalable, either up or down, and is simple to maintain. It is suitable for small, medium and fairly large-sized businesses.
Depending on the number of lines, extensions and features, a small business might expect to pay in the region of $300 per month, a medium-sized business approximately $735 a month, and a larger-sized business about $1,440 a month.
The company has won many awards for their products including the Internet Telephony Product of the Year 2011. Broadview Networks is a partner of HP, Cisco and is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
Established in 2003, Grasshopper specializes in designing cloud-based phone systems for small businesses.
They are also able to construct and integrate a cloud-based phone system into a preexisting telephone system.
Only one toll free or local telephone number is necessary for callers to make contact with various departments across businesses using Grasshopper cloud-based phone systems.
There are several billing plans depending on the level of growth and size of business, but each plan offers:
- Unlimited extensions
- Free activation
- All features
- A choice of custom toll free, toll free and local numbers
The MAX plan currently offers 10,000 minutes, 3 toll free/ local numbers and an additional unlimited voice studio all for the sum of $199 a month.
The Grow plan offers 2 toll free/local lines with 2,000 minutes currently available for $49 a month.
The Ramp plan currently allows 500 minutes for $24 a month with 1 toll free/ local line.
The Pay As You Grow plan costs $12 a month. Phone calls are charged at 6¢ per minute with 1 toll free/local line available.
Read more: Grasshopper Review
Ring Central, Pro Plus and Skype are also providers of cloud-based phone systems and services.
The final mention goes to the award winning company Shore Tel Sky who have their own platform in the cloud and are leaders in Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) as recognized by Gartner.