Transition to Cloud PBX

Start the Transition to Cloud PBX Today with a Hybrid Hybrid Environment

Transition to Cloud PBX

One of the biggest challenges today with the vision of transitioning to Microsoft’s recently released Cloud PBX revolves around matching business needs with available features. Although Cloud PBX is on a rapid pace to parity with Skype for Business Server, some of the advanced features are only available on-premises for the foreseeable future. For example, a user who migrates to Cloud PBX today won’t be able to take advantage of features like response groups or integration with contact center software.  In addition, the organization will not be able to use existing analog / fax lines or common area phones.  So the question is, what can you do if you’re interested in making the move over to the cloud but you can’t afford to compromise when it comes to features? One choice is to wait, but I believe the true answer lies in what we call a hybrid hybrid environment.  Yes, you read that correctly – a hybrid hybrid environment.

Bridging the Limitation & Availability Gap

Microsoft has basically allowed – and even encouraged – people to live in a sort of hybrid environment.  Users can essentially take advantage of the Cloud PBX features and functionality that exist today while keeping their existing T1s or SIP trunks. This hybrid deployment gives them the ability to do IM, chat, and video calls with other Skype for Business and Skype users – but limitations as compared with a traditional PBX exist.

Features aside, it’s also now possible to have voice calling plans coming from Microsoft services in the form of DIDs in the cloud (PSTN Calling). Unfortunately, Microsoft is encountering the limitations and regulatory pressures of essentially becoming a carrier.  As a result, it’s going to take them quite some time before they’ll be able to provide DIDs in regions outside of the US.

These limitations and challenges is where the hybrid hybrid model comes into play. (‘hybrid hybrid environment’ is a phrase we commonly use here in AudioCodes) For customer environments today, it means that as long as they have a full Skype for Business Server environment on-premises, they’ll be able to leverage the best of both worlds with some users in Cloud PBX and other on-premises leveraging full features and connectivity such as T1s, E1s, etc.  That is a huge benefit for customers – allowing them to take advantage of the promise of the cloud while staying grounded in the reality of users’ needs today.

The Best of Both Worlds Option

The hybrid hybrid model is something we speak about quite often with our customers and partners.  Today, it’s simply the only way to enable real PBX replacement and smoothly and easily get select users around the world on Cloud PBX while still having the ability to leverage full voice features with on-premises connectivity.

Organizations can pick and choose which users will have the feature set of Cloud PBX and which will be enabled for full Skype for Business Server.  They’ll be able to take advantage of features that aren’t ready for the cloud such as response groups or integration with analog phones/common area phones immediately.  My experience is these are key features that businesses need (especially in larger environments) and subsequently can delay adoption.  In a hybrid hybrid environment, you’ll have a full Skype for Business experience without having to delay the migration process to cloud PBX.

Enterprise dialing

Adding a Personal Dialling Assistant to Your Enterprise PBX: An Interview with Eyal Zach

Revolutionizing enterprise dialing

Enterprise dialing

I’m an enthusiastic user of VocaNOM so I figured it is time to get Eyal Zach, our VP Business Development for Mobility and VocaNOM answer some questions and tell our readers about the latest advancements and plans for the application.

Eyal, tell us about VocaNOM and the target market?

VocaNOM allows employees to dial using their voice to request the destination rather than looking up the name of the requested contact-person in the company address book. This makes dialling ast and easy, and increases security while driving!

We are leveraging AudioCodes GW & SBC technologies to connect to any PBX (any vendor and any type of PBX – even to analog devices.).

VocaNOM is now available in the cloud. We are very excited to be the first company to provide a public cloud-based voice recognition service aimed specifically at enterprises. The service is already deployed with over one hundred customers from different business segments (universities, hospitals, high-tech and low-tech companies, municipalities and others). Since the service is specific per language, we are currently offering it in English (U.S.), Spanish, German and Hebrew. We are working on expanding the service to include additional languages.

You can read more about VocaNOM and watch our video clip.

VocaNOM was previously an on-premises product that was moved to the cloud. Can you provide more information about the motivation for this change?

We started offering the service in Israel a few years ago and mostly approached large-scale enterprises (1000+ employees). We did not approach smaller companies because of the cost of installation and management of an on-premises architecture. Once we started to get queries from smaller enterprises wanting to enjoy the same technology and benefits that VocaNOM offers, we started looking for ways to simplify the installation and configuration and reduce the time it takes to get a customer up and running. Now that the system runs as a hosted service in the cloud, we can offer it to a larger audience and easily scale on-the-go as required.

What are the benefits for the end customer in preferring the cloud service over the on-premises option?

The move to the cloud allows us to provide more options to our customers while lowering the barriers for adoption of the service by almost any enterprise.

From a customer perspective, using this service in the cloud instead of on-premises results in simplified management and maintenance while benefiting from a pay-as-you-go type of pricing model instead of a higher one-time fee. Additionally, since it runs in the cloud, the customer is freed from the need to handle version upgrades.

What is next for VocaNOM?

We recently launched a new mobile applications that support our customers’ private address book in addition to their corporate address book. We are working on other features that will be announced later this year that will extend the capabilities of that app beyond just dialling. We are receiving great feedback and ideas from our growing customer base and we are working hard to enhance and improve the product. We have also recently launched an online self-registration tool, allowing potential customers to try VocaNOM in less than a few minutes.

What are the key milestones for VocaNOM in the near future?

With the ongoing development of our enterprise service, including our mobile app and our online self-registration platform, we are excited to show these new features at the upcoming Mobile World Congress expo (MWC 2016).

We’re attending MWC16 to meet with European service providers and to expand our business offering across multiple countries, with a special focus on Germany and Spain.

Anyone who might be interested in meeting with us can drop me a line to schedule a short talk.

CloudBond 365 Q&A Part 1

You Asked About CloudBond 365: Part 1

As part of the recent launch of AudioCodes CloudBond 365, we conducted webinars with our global partners. The events generated considerable interest. Given the many good questions we received from both our partners and the general audience regarding the new platform, we decided to publically share these questions so that everyone can benefit and learn from them.

CloudBond 365 Q&A Part 1

CloudBond 365 is a solution for the data center, customer premises or the branch. It is a versatile all-in-one Skype for Business appliance designed for hybrid environments or a full on-premises Skype for Business deployment that combines the best of the Skype for Business server, the cloud-PBX and the service provider’s voice services. CloudBond 365 is available as a hardware box (Standard, Pro and Enterprise Box Editions) or as a Virtual Appliance.

We have divided the questions we received about CloudBond 365 into several categories, each of which will get dealt with in a separate blog over the coming weeks.  In this first instalment, we tackle the questions of upgrading to CloudBond 365 from AudioCodes One Box 365 as well as connectivity and integration issues.

Regarding upgrades: We want to emphasize that all One Box 365 units are eligible for upgrade to the CloudBond 365 firmware. The actual upgrade path will be communicated by AudioCodes in the near future.

The following questions were asked regarding connectivity and integration:

How does directory integration work? Does CloudBond 365 have FIM/AD?

The CloudBond 365 Active Directory Connector is an application developed by AudioCodes. It is FIM like and allows for synchronizing user attributes with the customer user forests while simplifying the deployment and creating a clear point of demarcation.

Can multiple CloudBond 365 units be connected into an Office 365 tenant?

Indeed they can.

CloudBond™ 365 can be connected to Office 365 to allow:

  • Exchange Online UM integration
  • Support for Hybrid topology
  • Support for On-Prem PSTN for Cloud PBX

Does AudioCodes offer a full UCMA connection to all users?

UCMA can only work with an On-prem FE server. Trusted applications can work only on an on-premises server.

What can you say about resiliency?

Resiliency can be achieved by using two units of CloudBond 365 in a pool pair. The deployment wizard simplifies the settings of the pool pair.

CloudBond 365 can be deployed as a BPA in a Skype for Business private Cloud to achieve full branch UC resiliency.

 

If you have any additional questions on these topics or any other topic, feel free to reach out to us.

Please check back for our next instalment of the CloudBond 365 Q&A which will focus on Sizing, Licensing and Pricing issues.

Further reading: