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7 Keys to Choosing a Cloud Solution for Your Small Business VoIP

Small businesses consisting of less than 50 employees are challenged to compete in today’s ultra-competitive economic climate. With limited budgets and human resources, innovative technology may be the difference between success and failure. Implementing multiple single-service IT solutions can be a cumbersome and expensive experience.

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Whether you’re considering moving to the cloud or switching to a more reliable VoIP service provider, there are seven key cloud attributes that are critical to consider before choosing any cloud service provider, regardless of whether you are a small business or large enterprise. The seven key attributes include:

  1. Reliability – Reliability is the measurement of how often a service “fails.” The inverse of this is Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) which is the average uptime between failures of the service. The higher the MTBF the more reliable the service can be and the less likely the service will fail. With cloud services, there are many components to delivering the service including the local LAN and networking equipment, the last mile circuit, the backbone carrier and the data center with all its various components. Each one of these components has an MTBF and reliability number. Taken together, the reliability of the whole system can be less than the reliability of the least reliable component.
  2. Availability – Availability goes hand in hand with reliability in determining how available the service is or conversely how long a service is unavailable. Availability is the inverse of how long a service is unavailable (outage time) when it does fail. Taken together with Reliability, these terms determine how often and how long a service will be “down” and unavailable which means your employees are “down” and non-productive. Both terms are important. You can have a service that is reliable (doesn’t fail often), but has a low availability indicating that when the service does fail, it is “down” for long periods of time. Conversely you can have a service that recovers faster from an outage (higher availability) but has a lower reliability, i.e. it fails more often. In both cases, company impact and employee productivity can be significantly impacted.
  3. Scalability – One of the biggest advantages of cloud is the ability to scale service globally through the theoretical addition of new data centers. While this may sound easy, adding data centers and interconnecting them in such a way that service can be consistently accessible is not easy. Some cloud service providers that depend on 3rd party technology vendors to provide the service are challenged to deploy and maintain the same version of that technology across all data centers or be faced with inconsistent features or operations between each data center. This can be very counter-productive to a company that depends on service consistency.
  4. Security – Cloud security has been a much talked about topic for many years. Extending the IT infrastructure outside of the physical confines of a corporate building can pose security challenges both physically as well as in cyberspace. Over the past couple of years, however, business cloud service providers have made tremendous progress in securing the cloud environment for enterprises to confidently migrate to the cloud. Key to ensuring a secure cloud service environment is working with a service provider that can provide end-to-end security from endpoints (IP phones, desktops and mobile devices) to secure broadband connections and secure cloud services themselves.
  5. Quality of Service (QoS) – Quality of Service is one of the most important cloud service attributes as it can negatively impact productivity for every employee in the company and it can occur instantaneously at any time without warning. Additionally, QoS may be impacted by external factors; more so in certain cloud service providers than others. As more IT services are moved to the cloud, inter-service QoS issues will also become a more frequent occurrence challenging even the best cloud service provider to be able to resolve. 3rd party circuits, networking equipment, data center bandwidth and scalable software architectures all play a role in determining QoS.
  6. Service Level Agreement (SLA) – The SLA represents the actual legal “meat” behind all the service attributes. It is how the cloud service provider stands behind their service and exactly what guaranteed service levels it will deliver the service at. The SLA should be reviewed for level and completeness in covering all seven service attributes listed here.
  7. Support – Support is key when outsourcing your business-critical IT services to a cloud service provider. When an issue arises, getting fast and accurate support can have a major impact on your bottom line. Understanding the support escalation process is critical to resolving issues in a timely manner.

Considering these seven service attributes for a single cloud service is challenging enough, but when considering migration of several IT services to the cloud, these seven key service attributes can be virtually impossible to manage and maintain if each cloud service is provided from different cloud providers. Imagine migrating your PBX to one cloud provider, your collaboration to another provider and your file sync and share to another service provider. Each cloud service provider will have different or varying levels of each of these seven service attributes. Even more troubling is that one cloud vendor’s solution may negatively impact a service attribute from another cloud service provider.

In today’s competitive fast-moving business world, you need a cloud partner that is 100% focused on your business' success. With our mission-critical business DNA, PanTerra delivers that 100% focus with a proven holistic approach that includes not just the cloud service itself, but all the necessary pieces of the solution to guarantee peace of mind that your IT services will deliver leading edge features with ultra-reliable and secure operations, backed by world-class enterprise-level support.

PanTerra’s ultra-high-level services are delivered from fully hardened, secure, redundant, cloud datacenters capable of withstanding virtually any natural disaster. Our 99.999+% reliability/availability with QoS monitoring built-in means all PanTerra services are available 24/7/365. With 24/7 live “30 second” support, our unique cloud-based approach delivers the industry’s lowest Total Cost of Operations (TCO) through the elimination of costly on-premises equipment with a simplified, yet ultra-secure and scalable communications and file sync & share infrastructure in a worry free cloud IT environment.

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