Guest Blog by Chris Wortt, Director of Sales, IP Telephony, EMEA and Charlie James, Alliance Director, EMEA
Time waits for no man, and that includes IT and communications managers. Let’s face it; your PBX stack is starting to look out of place in your workplace of the future. Private Branch Exchange just doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘cloud-based collaboration’. So here’s five very good reasons why you should think about moving from analogue to IP.
- PBX is so 2015
Did you know that some of the largest phone networks in the US and Western Europe are planning to turn off their analogue services from 2018? That means all those PBX stacks will start to be cut off too. We need to seriously start thinking about replacing those analogue lines with SIP trunks/IP circuits before it’s too late. With some PTT’s planning to switch off their analogue/PSTN service in a little less than three years, many analogue PBX vendors have also followed suit and announced end-of-life for their PBX systems. It’s time to think about how you are going to maintain mission critical communications post-PBX.
2. As-a-Service, as you please
It is clear that Skype for Business has changed the game in the UC and PBX industry with Skype for Business having a great deal more telephony capability in it than Lync 2010. Companies using Skype for Business can, potentially, run all of their communications and telephony on one platform. Simplicity is key in the modern IT environment. Many companies already use some elements of the Microsoft portfolio - whether its Outlook, Microsoft One Drive or Share Point – so being able to integrate, as well as stick to a familiar user interface is a big plus. Therefore, Skype for Business appeals to many businesses of varying sizes and not just the enterprise. With the ever increasing family of Microsoft hosters, the Skype for Business infrastructure can now be provided through the cloud and offered ‘as a service’. It’s bringing the entry point down and enabling SMBs to gain access to traditionally enterprise grade solutions
3. Skype for Business means business
We all know about the benefits of Skype for Business making telephony more than just phone calls. The pace of innovation is much more aggressive than traditional telephony with the cadence of software releases much higher for a Skype for Business enterprise environment. There are approximately three to four major releases a year plus continuous software updates. This is because Microsoft has approached the situation differently by building core telephony capability into its flagship UC offering as a business solution rather than a pure play telephony proposition.
4. Partner power
Microsoft associated partners are launching everything from call control centres to gateway solutions and survival branch appliances, all of which are building an ecosystem around Skype for Business, and an ecosystem around your telephony. Every vendor in partnership with Microsoft wants to provide a complimentary service to Skype for Business from which you can benefit. These vary from a dedicated bespoke on premise offering to simple, easy cloud solutions. This variation is creating huge opportunities for customers to have it their way.
5. UC it’s easy
The rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business means UC is easy, not just from an IT manager point of view, but from an end user perspective. That blue cloud is so familiar! Suddenly enterprise-grade security and features are wrapped in a consumer-esque interface that drives adoption of your deployment by your teams. You also get an enterprise grade solution than can be put into hosting environments and other cloud providers’ space, making this UC platform very accessible to organisations that couldn’t previously take advantage of more costly on-premise options. Microsoft recently announced their Q1 earnings showing 70% growth quarter-on-quarter of Office 365, demonstrating how strong this cloud market will be.
In addition, Microsoft has recently expanded their Preview Program for PSTN Conferencing Services via Skype for Business Online, allowing customers to preview Cloud PBX in Office 365 using their existing phone lines for inbound and outbound calling. That means modernising your telephony doesn’t have to all be a rip-and-replace nightmare. So what are you waiting for?
Are you ready to upgrade? Then follow our check-list for a headache-free switch from PBX to IP.
- Ask yourself the five W’s: Who will use it? What do you need? Why do you need it? When do you need it by? How will you install it?
- Do the due diligence - Choose the right partners, this is key to deploying the right enterprise voice solution early in the cycle
- Don’t limit your options - Consult with all suppliers including resellers, consultants, and vendors, before making your choice
- Be realistic - Define the project plan and ask yourself; is it achievable?
- Write your recipe for success - Define what success looks like before you start
- Ask the experts - Involve professional services from day one. IP telephony is not plug and play like PSTN
- Lay the groundwork - Networks have to be optimised to carry voice data in order to achieve the best results
- Drive adoption - Involve adoption services to ensure the roll out of your new solution maximises participation
- Be in control – Think about how you are going to track and measure your new solutions. Analytics services to monitor performance, capacity and usage are key to success