Phone Systems: Hosted IP vs On Premise PBX

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Technology has progressed to such an extent that we have so many more options. Typically, this makes your job as the customer that tad more complicated. Then, just as you have reached a solution you have more questions to answer.

IP PBX Phone System is one such solution.

An IP Phone System uses Internet Protocol (IP) technology and the handsets are connected via an Ethernet connection either on a Local Area Network (LAN) or a Wide Area Network (WAN.)

When you choose an IP Phone System, you purchase the phone system for your own use and you choose where to host it.

There is the crux of it – where should you host it? Should you host it on a virtual server/cloud or should you opt for the traditional route and have an on-premise PBX?

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Here are the highlights:

  • Hosted IP is software based, typically on a virtual server and easier to maintain and upgrade.
  • An On-premise PBX IP Phone system generally has physical hardware and placed typically on-site.
  • It’s important to have regular back-ups and a robust DR solution in place.

Hosted IP

You have your dedicated phone system as software. You can choose to host it on a virtual server (on-site or off-site) or a physical server (on-site or off-site) where you access it via a private cloud.

The company that supplied the phone system can maintain it and upgrade it as required, however, generally, you are responsible for the server itself (unless you outsource that.)

The costs involved are generally around the purchase of the software and maintenance. Virtual servers’ costs are minimal and the ability to create more memory needed is simple.


On-Premise PBX IP Phone system

You have the phone system software on its own PBX which is a physical box to sit in a location of your choosing; typically, on-site.

The company who supplied the phone system can maintain it and upgrade it but if more memory is needed, chances are you need more equipment and time to upgrade it.

The costs are generally around the cost of equipment and maintenance. Typically, it is a solution more fitting for a business who has an I.T. person familiar with PBX’s who can maintain and upgrade it themselves.


Disaster Recovery for IP Phone Systems

Regardless of whether you choose to host your IP Phone system or have a PBX on-site, you need to consider a Disaster Recovery (DR) solution in place.

Here are a couple of examples of typical set-ups:

  1. One of our clients has their IP Phone system hosted on a virtual server in their head office (they have 100+sites across the country.) Additionally, they have it hosted on another server, a few miles away. They have back-ups in place which take a snapshot on a regular basis. If their system goes down, they can replace the back-up version and typical downtime is 30mins. If their head office is involved in a natural disaster, they have a physical location ready to go.
  2. Another client has a physical PBX box on-site, a few hours from us. If it goes down, we have a replacement but it will still take time to get them to and replace the equipment; their downtime could be closer to 4/5 hours.

Those are the two extremes; one client is completely prepared and will have minimal downtime and the other has slightly more risk and longer downtime expected.

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