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Phone systems go up, up and away to the clouds

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The rapid proliferation of cloud computing throughout the enterprise is providing decision-makers with new insight into how the technology can be used. In many cases, organizations are adopting the cloud to optimize infrastructure, storage and other vital aspects of IT. This is providing firms with new opportunities to save money, improve operations and adopt emerging applications that would otherwise have been difficult to deploy in their old data centers.

Yet using the cloud to enhance data management capabilities is not the technology's only advantage. In fact, the emergence of the cloud is introducing a number of changes throughout the corporate setting, including improving outdated business phone systems.

Most organizations are currently using an enterprise VoIP service for communication. While this technology is still highly beneficial for companies today, decision-makers should consider making the transition to the cloud to take advantage of the unique functionality and scalability of a hosted PBX system.

What's so great about a cloud-based phone system?

A recent Business 2 Community report highlighted the benefits of a cloud PBX solution, noting that it is based in theory off the capabilities associated with traditional VoIP services. Because internet telephony has been used in the consumer setting for several years, corporate decision-makers have taken notice and realized that implementing these offerings in the workplace will provide similarly advantageous results.

Business 2 Community said the open access of a cloud PBX is one of its most beneficial characteristics, as the hosted technology enables executives to integrate a number of services into the network, providing a more holistic experience for users. This availability also means that organizations can enter the phone system from virtually anywhere, which is becoming increasingly important as decision-makers continue to adopt mobile strategies and are encouraged to support a growing remote workforce.

In addition to having access to the network from virtually anywhere, employees will be able to use a number of advanced features offered through a hosted phone system, Business 2 Community noted. These functions include voice messaging, voicemail to email or fax to email, as well as remote call management solutions. In the past, these tools were often expensive, forcing decision-makers to pick and choose which assets were most crucial to meeting long-term demand. With the cloud's business model, on the other hand, organizations will be required to dig much shallower into their pockets for the same capabilities.

Finally, cloud PBX systems are highly scalable, allowing them to support a growing business without slowing operations or impairing performance. Because the cloud is so flexible, hosted phones can manage fluctuating volumes of traffic, meaning busy and slow times can both be tackled efficiently without wasting resources, the news source said.

A separate study by a major cloud services enablement firm revealed that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly interested in the cloud, as roughly half of SMBs in 2011 leveraged hosted communications and collaboration tools with mature cloud services. This particular market is forecast to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent through 2014, eventually generating $3.4 billion in revenue.

As the cloud continues to mature and decision-makers are increasingly interested in using the technology for more purposes throughout the enterprise, the office phone system will eventually make its way to the cloud to provide firms with a unique set of opportunities and advantages. By planning these deployments in advance, organizations can ensure they replace antiquated solutions with hosted services without experiencing and performance disturbances.