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PBX in the Cloud: A low-pressure beginner’s guide

Perfect entrypoint for anyone without an IT background to understand one of the best communication platforms for business in the 2020s. 

Once upon a time if you wanted to make a change in your phone service you had 1 technology and about 5 options. Now, you have 100s (no literally: 100s) of options. That’s just in terms of provider. You also have many different technologies, buzzwords like SIP, PBX, Cloud VoIP. 

So what does it all mean? And how does Cloud-based PBX stand apart from these other technologies? It doesn’t take a PhD to understand this stuff. Just 5-10 minutes. We’ll focus on VoIP, PBX and the cloud applications of these technologies.

What is a cloud PBX? Let’s start with PBX.

PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. 

  • Private – for privately owned
  • Branch – for multiple branches, extensions, or an entire network of people
  • eXchange – for routing information properly from one person to another

PBXes are used by organizations to properly route communications to, from, and among their members. If employee A wants to call employee B, the PBX will manage that call. 

The PBX also manages the transition when calls reach people outside the organization. In these cases the PBX will establish the connection to the right network. Then it will send and receive information as needed, routing incoming information to the right employee, and sending outgoing information to the right network.

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Pretty much like ye’ olde’ communications platform (pictured below) but now PBX software has replaced the manual processes with automation to manage pre-defined extensions, rules, etc.

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash
Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

As a term, PBX is “wire-agnostic.” That means you can buy a PBX to handle copper wires like they used when this photo was taken. Or nowadays it is much more common to see PBX handle digital calling, or even VoIP. 

Bonus: Why VoIP is a bad acronym

Here’s a bit of trivia for you.

VoIP can be a confusing term in modern times. A lot of people think it means calling over the Internet. But that is not quite true. 

  • Voice 
  • Over
  • Internet 
  • Protocol — the way information is packaged and processed so that it makes sense to the recipient

Strictly speaking, VoIP refers to the published standard for packaging audio data so that it could be sent across the Internet reliably and securely. VoIP was a true standout in 1995 when it was developed, and it allowed small businesses and consumers to call long distance without incurring expensive telephone charges.

Back then it did mean digital calling because there wasn’t such a thing as video conferences. 

And though VoIP is frequently the first digital communications technology for businesses to adopt, we can now send multimedia data as well. 

IP PBX

Nowadays you can stream videos on any site with just your web browser. But you still need a technology to manage privacy, authentication, routing, and more. 

An on-premise IP PBX manages calling data across digital as call traffic. This allows you to use your digital bandwidth that is provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to power communications and authenticate as a phone number rather than a normal Internet endpoint (168.197.0.0…). 

On-prem IP PBX requires the PBX hardware itself, as well as the technical services required to maintain it. If your IT department has the resources to support on-prem PBX then this can be a good option. However, many providers offer PBX in the cloud as an alternative.
On-prem IP PBX requires the PBX hardware itself, as well as the technical services required to maintain it. If your IT department has the resources to support on-prem PBX then this can be a good option. However, many providers offer PBX in the cloud as an alternative.

PBX in the Cloud versus on-prem

“The cloud” is just a term that refers to somebody else’s IT infrastructure that is located in a data center rather than on-premise. It is the difference between Microsoft Office 2018 and Office 365.

Advantages of cloud versus on-prem

  • Distributed workplaces – extend your business network over multiple geographical locations with ease
  • Better security
  • Streamlined updates
  • No unexpected maintenance cost
  • Latest features

In the cloud PBX is managed and maintained by your provider. You still have all the control over features, call lists, extensions, etc. But the software, processes and updates occur in large part in the cloud. 

Advantages of IP PBX over traditional Cloud VoIP

  • Host video conferences
  • Provide collaboration and presentation features to drive productivity
  • Add Presence and email integration
  • Connect communications networks to your web site or any web application
  • And many more possibilities 

That’s Cloud PBX in a nutshell.

We hope you agree that cloud PBX is not difficult to understand. It is certainly an exciting technology, one that many of our customers are using to be more productive for themselves and their customers.

Barb Peck

I can’t say enough good things about Convergence!  Steve, Paul, Laura and the entire Convergence Solutions team make every effort to be friendly and helpful while taking care of our needs.  They are knowledgeable, patient, and kind.  The initial set up and implementation of our phone system several years ago was flawless, and they have continued to update and maintain as needed.  We’ve had our voice mail go down on a weekend, and they are always accessible.  I was leaving to go out of town recently and emailed a last minute change order.  I wasn’t clear with my request, and Paul tracked me down on my cell phone to clarify the instructions so he could put the change in place that day.  We are truly thankful to all of them!

Barb Peck
LifeBridge Church

Why Convergence Cloud

Unlimited Calling

The telecom industry is moving too slowly. Why nickle-and-dime you over minutes when it’s all just data?

Convergence Cloud delivers unlimited local or long-distance minutes. Every one of our plans are inclusive with no additional items costs.

Friendly Customer Support Based in Denver

As a Denver business, we are in the neighborhood to support you as much or as little as you need. If VoIP is new to you, our service representatives can take you through the process, so you know your communications will go uninterrupted.

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