Is CaaS Right for You?

CaaS vs. On-Premise

Problems with Centrex

For those who have been through the early years of hosted communications, the term Centrex (CENTRal EXchange) may be very familiar to you. In its simplest definition, Centrex was a hosted telephone service typically provided by carriers. The main benefit to Centrex was that you didn’t have to invest in a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) on your premise. For many companies, this provided them with the phone features that they needed without the cost or headaches of purchasing, deploying or administrating the solution. They simply paid one vendor to do all of that for them.

 In many ways, CaaS can be thought of as a Centrex-like solution. As a matter of fact, the term “IP-Centrex” is now being used to describe those solutions that offer Hosted VoIP services similar to those offered by Centrex. However, the differences in what Centrex and IP-Centrex provides versus what CaaS provides is simple – applications, features, and administration.

Here’s a little deeper look at some of the concerns over Centrex:

  • It never met the need of the majority of the marketplace for features and applications. The applications were kept relatively simple in order to meet the needs of the masses.
  • It provided limited flexibility. Choices were few and there was no way to quickly add users, lines, features, applications, etc. For those businesses that needed to move quickly, Centrex was a limiting factor. Additionally, if you wanted to move someone from one office to another, you had to wait until the Centrex service could “rewire” the phone to the new office.
  • It didn’t provide good administrative capabilities. You had to go back to the telephone company to make changes.
  • Changes took a long time to implement. Often times, simple moves, adds and changes had to be scheduled weeks in advance.
  • Working at home wasn’t an option – since Centrex served the office, you had to be in the office to use the phone services.
However, in comparison, CaaS has several benefits.
  1. All IP-based voice traffic – Because it manages the voice traffic using VoIP, greater flexibility is given to how the voice traffic is handled: either all in the cloud, some in the cloud and some locally, or all locally. Additionally, by using VoIP, employees can be located anywhere.
  2. Full-featured and robust applications – Applications like presence, conferencing, call recording, contact center applications, outbound dialing, real-time supervisory monitoring, and more are all available through a CaaS service.
  3. Flexible deployment models – Today’s CaaS solutions are far more flexible in the way that they are deployed than Centrex of years gone by. For several examples of the CaaS deployment models, visit our CaaS Architecture page.
  4. Simple licensing for rapid deployment – Because applications can be turned on and turned off with a license key, businesses can rapidly deploy new features and new applications when they are ready. If you find a specific feature being abused, you can turn it off.
  5. Remote administration tools - these tools allow companies to make changes on their own without incurring additional costs or delays; add new features, perform moves, adds, and changes, or add new applications quickly.
  6. Remote supervisory monitoring tools – supervisors and managers can see, in real time, all communication activity going on in their business. In the contact center, they can also see their queues, monitor their SLAs and even listen to and coach their agents – even if they are working in another office or at home.
  7. Phones can be moved around anywhere on the LAN/WAN – because phones in a CaaS deployment are IP-based, you can simply pick them up and plug them in anywhere on the network and keep on working.

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