Hosted platform unlocks value in times of organisational change
When leading cloud-based PBX provider and telco Connection Telecom adopted cloud-based telephony for its own communications in 2009 it was more than just a show of good faith.
“We were mindful of the fact that all organisations go through major changes, so it was with a view to accommodate future growth and displacement that we adopted cloud,” says Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom.
Nothing stays the same
Out of all telephony platforms, cloud provides the best alignment with companies’ growth and change objectives:
- Simplicity of installation – it allows companies on the move to simply unplug phones at the old office and plug them in at an adequately provisioned new residence. As phones remain registered to the same cloud-based servers, they retain their geographic numbers and extensions.
- Simplicity of moves, adds and changes (MACs) – as more people join (or leave) a company – some remotely or with a high degree of mobility – and project-based workgroups form and disband, a cloud-based solution makes MACs a non-issue. Users can be added at will without concern for hardware or software requirements or physical location in the virtualised hosted setting of a cloud setup.
- Ease of management – in a dynamic business environment marked by rising and falling demand for services, roving staff as well as changes in address, cloud-enabled centralised management and elastic provisioning of capacity is an elegant catch-all solution.
Case in point
The proof of the pudding came in July this year, when Connection Telecom staged a move across Cape Town.
Lith says the company had few worries or costs concerning the telephony portion of its move, other than provisioning enough bandwidth.
“We literally only had to make sure we had enough bandwidth for our needs, pack up our phones on a Friday afternoon, plug them in, route the new site to our hosted servers, and we were up and running with the same numbers and extensions. The only change on our business card reprints is our physical address. Even our geographic number stayed the same.”
“We were able to focus more on issues like design of the office, including procuring enough air-conditioning capacity for our people, and getting our furniture and equipment across. In terms of cost and effort, those items significantly outweighed the telephony component.”
As a result, the company saved around R400 000 compared to a scenario of forklifting an on-site PBX with 40 extensions to a new site, laying discreet cabling, and re-provisioning an interface into the public telephone network.
In such a scenario, he says, PRI infrastructure would have had to be installed at a cost of R30 000. Telephony cabling and installation might easily amount to another R60 000. Add various other hard and soft costs, and Lith says a moving bill of R400 000 is not unthinkable.
Schlepping an on-site IP PBX
Had the company been faced with moving an on-site IP-based PBX, the cost and effort would still be considerable, says Lith.
“We would have had to invest in new servers or moved the old ones across, and we’d need an exhaustive cut-over plan involving decommissioning and re-commissioning of servers after hours, using overtime resources. The plan would require much effort, involving assigning new IP ranges and ensuring everything networks to the new ranges and attains stability within the space of a weekend.”
“On-site IP is less challenging and costly than an analogue project, but still requires much more of an investment than cloud,” he says.
He advises that companies considering a move to the cloud as part of a move might have too much on their hands. “Rather plan the two separately. If you know you’re going to move to a new address in two years, it may be wise to consider migrating to the cloud sooner rather than later. That way it’s one less thing to worry about when the time comes.”
Lith says their new office park – Black River Park – has excellent fibre connectivity, and access costs are expected to come down substantially in August with a 25% Diginet rate reduction from Telkom.
With the savings from the move, combined with the savings from the lower rates, Connection Telecom decided to invest in a hosted IP-based videoconferencing solution between its Cape Town and Johannesburg operations as a value-add.
“With the cost of bandwidth at an all-time low, this is an option available to all cloud customers,” says Lith. “But we find that cloud frees up value on a range of levels, which are obvious during times of organisational change. Without it, we might frankly not have been in a position to make the move.”