Cloud Communications

Cloud communication and cloud technology have become big buzzwords in businesses in the past few years. More and more industries are seeking out ways to transition local services into cloud-based services. But what is cloud communications? In this post, we’ll explain how cloud tech works, talk about the benefits of the cloud, and provide examples in the world of communications services to show how beneficial the cloud can be.

The basic idea of the cloud is simple. Like voice over IP (VoIP), hosted PBX, CaaS, or Unified Communications (UC), cloud communications provides voice and data services. For many years, businesses have run telephone, messaging, email, videoconference, and collaborative sharing systems on local networks, requiring IT personnel to operate and maintain the system. This can be costly, as a business has to support an IT team and is instantly crippled when these systems invariably go down. Cloud communications can fix this by hosting these applications via the internet, in the “cloud.” The comparison tables below allow you to compare the top cloud communication providers that are guaranteed to save you money.

Best cloud communication providers for Business use

Rates shown do not include taxes, surcharges, or other fees. Providers offering specials may have restrictions based on terms and promotional periods. Please read the individual provider’s terms and conditions before buying.

Best cloud communication providers for Residential use

Rates shown do not include taxes, surcharges, or other fees. Providers offering specials may have restrictions based on terms and promotional periods. Please read the individual provider’s terms and conditions before buying.

What is Cloud Communication?

Cloud service providers are hosts. They operate server farms with massive computing resources. They essentially rent out space on their server farms to businesses who want to use the capacity for various applications. For example, Amazon operates one of the largest and most popular clouds. They sell access to their cloud for business researchers or marketers who want to host large datasets on the cloud and use Amazon’s computing power to analyze the data.

In that sense, the cloud is just a large collection of servers working together. Cloud communications allows clients and customers to access their cloud data or services over the Internet via secure connections.

Why Should I Use Cloud Communications?

The cloud is much more than just extra resources, however. First of all, the cloud provides redundancy on an unprecedented scale. Because any cloud service is made up of many servers running in parallel, if one goes down or needs an update, the services can keep operating from the resources of a different server. All cloud software is written explicitly to account for the possibility that individual machines or even groups of machines could become unavailable at any time. Cloud providers spread their servers over wide geographical areas, so even if a major storm or earthquake struck a server farm, any services running on it could be seamlessly redirected to a different farm somewhere else. That means cloud services have much better uptime than local ones. Local services are usually run on just a few servers, and regular maintenance as well as unexpected disasters can completely shut down service. That doesn’t happen if the service is cloud-based. The concept of a service being present on many servers at once for redundancy is called multi-tenancy. This is in contrast to single-tenancy, in which a service is based on one server and a single threat can knock it offline.

Another major advantage of cloud communications is scalability. Expanding capacity on a local service is often tricky. It necessitates expensive purchases of hardware and entails downtime for migration. On the other hand, expanding capacity is much easier for cloud services because the cloud provider already has the capacity installed. They just need to allocate more to the service that wants to expand. This is a relatively simple software-only process that can be done without downtime.

Remember that cloud service is written to accommodate the idea that hardware is not permanent. That means it is easy to add more server capacity to a service suite, upgrade the existing servers, or rebalance a service’s presence across the existing resources without causing outages. The resources available to a given service is limited only by budget, because major cloud providers carry far more capacity than any one service could reasonably use.

Security is also superior on the cloud. Using the cloud means using the security services of cloud providers. No security is impermeable, but so far the cloud has escaped the recent wave of major data breaches that have plagued companies of all sizes lately. This is partially because of how new cloud technology is, but it is true that a cloud provider has many resources to devote to security. Amazon has been operating a cloud both for themselves and for others and has yet to experience a breach. Furthermore, moving the burden of security to an outside firm frees up time and money for projects closer to the bottom line. It is one less thing that the company needs to think about.

There are many ways to take advantage of the cloud, but communications services is an excellent choice. For one thing, communications can be quite complex when taking into account all of the various telephone and Internet services that a business might need. These might include tools for internal communications like messaging platforms or knowledge-sharing and collaboration software and tools for external communication like VOIP phones, videoconferencing, and PBX installations. Managing all of that on a local server takes time and attention away from other resources.

The IT department needs to devote staff hours to upkeep, maintenance, and upgrades, and downtime can be devastating. Taking communications into the cloud changes all that. By going with a software-as-a-service cloud provider, the company can outsource all of the grunge work of maintaining their communications. The unique attributes of the cloud communications also means that downtime will be lower relative to local hosting. Cloud communications are so scalable that it is easy to stick with the same system as the company grows. That will ease the transition from small to large. A company doing it themselves might need to acquire entirely new communications suites each time it needed a capacity or feature upgrade, disrupting workflow and forcing all employees to learn a new system. With the cloud, the company can just request more space. That is not just for long-term growth prospects- it also comes in handy for times of peaking demand when call lines are flooded and the company needs a quick and temporary upgrade. In addition, the cloud provider oversees the process of diverting capacity in the event that a natural disaster or freak accident affects some servers. If something like that happened to a company running communications locally, they would need emergency IT support to get things up and running as soon as possible. When communications are in the cloud, that responsibility and liability is now outside the company.

The bottom line is that cloud communication is already an attractive option to host all kinds of services, and that trend is only going to accelerate as cloud space becomes cheaper and cloud interfaces become easier to work with. Furthermore, there are many options for companies with respect to how to set up their cloud services and how much they want to keep things in house as opposed to external, on the cloud. It is entirely possible to pursue a hybrid approach with some services local and some on the cloud. One thing for sure is- the importance and accessibility of cloud services is only going to increase in the coming years.