Which Cloud Services Make Sense?
Briefly there are two Cloud Services that make sense for small and medium sized businesses: Hosted Exchange and Hosted PBX. Why? The reasons are similar but the analysis is much different. In both cases it's a numbers game. When do Cloud services cost more than in-house and when, if ever, does in-house become more convenient?
In short, any company with less than 50 employees, that use email, should seriously consider Hosted Exchange. Pricing and features are VERY competitive. When you consider the expense of having an in-house Exchange server configurfed with the same features and uptime as Hosted Exchange, it's just silly. We've quoted these systems to customers many times with the pricfe in the range of $18,000 initially and an annual expense of around $6.000 to maintain them. That's at least $36K over 3 years or $20 per month per employee, if you have 50 employees, WAY more if you have fewer employees. When you cocnsider hosted Exchange at between $8 and $16 per user, per month, youo see why 50 employees is the point you should start looking at in-house Exchange. Moving from one Hosted Exchange provider to another or to in-house Exchange, is not a process that businesses want to do on a regular basis. Researching the available options to find the right provider is important. Of course price is an issue, but other things like size, redundancy, Data Center, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spam, encryption and uptime have to play into your decision. Do we offer Hosted Exchange? Not directly. We work with serveral quality providers to meet our customer's needs.
Replacing your phone system is EXPENSIVE! There's the cost of the in-house PBX, the phones, the wiring and the on-going maintenance. On top of that you pay your Local Area Carrier (LAC) or Competitive Local Area Carrier (CLAC) a sizeable fee just to place the calls over your expensive PBX. Phone systems used to last 15 years, now you're lucky to get 7 years out of a PBX. Then there are the limitation of your system that just drive you NUTS, but you can't afford to change.
What if you could move to a PBX that had all the features you've ever imagined available, cost less per month than what you're paying for your phone bill, was more secure, had better uptime and never had to be replaced? Most people would say "I WANT IT NOW!", and they are. That's why hosted PBX is the #1 Cloud product currently on the market. Look into it. Do a Google of Hosted PBX. If you get totally confused and want to talk to someone who has "no skin in the game", call us. Why are we interested? We've seen many installations of Hosted Exchange fail because of improper preparation of the local network. This is an area where we specialize and think we can hlep your transition go smoothly and your phones work great.
Microsoft is pushing their Office 365 as the office of the future. They make a compelling argument and are changing the way they sell their Office suite to make it an even more compelling argument. In as soon as 5 years we suspect 50% of Office users will be in a hosted environment of some sort, mostly with Office 365.
What other Hosted Services are there?
Just about every industry has or will have hosted products. Right now there are some KILLER hosted services in the medical, accounting and business verticals. The problems are usually when you add everything up, they aren't competitive withy the in-house solutions, only much more available. On top of the really cool vertical Cloud packages there are services like on-line backup, proxy security filters and cloud storage that are competing for your business. Some are free, but have some sort of catch. Check out our "The Nine Hidden Costs of Cloud Computing" to get a better feel for what it really costs to get into Cloud Computing as a customer.
What do we recommend?
As you can imagine, we recommend Hosted Exchange for small and medium sized businesses. We recommend Hosted PBX for any size business. Sometimes we recommend industry specific Cloud solutions that make sense or where the vendor forces you to move from in-house to Cloud. Other than that and after you've read our "The Nine Hidded Costs of Cloud Computing", we recommend you give us a call to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of options being presented to you.
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