Article by :Michael Marchioni
ICON Cloud Solutions
A very attractive option to consider is moving to a hosted or cloud-based voice platform. This solution offloads a large amount of operating expenditure (OPEX) away from the school. A major cost with a standard PBX deployment is day-to-day maintenance, keeping up-to-date with the latest software levels and respective processing hardware to deliver the voice service or feature set.
In a cloud solution, the provider keeps the central communication servers up to date and removes this cost from the school district’s expected expenditure. Cloud-based offers also incorporate key elements and services into the “rental” of equipment per month (per user/per site). The running costs, the telephones, media gateway, feature sets, dial plans, trunking and integration of emergency notification or e911, are all included. This significantly lowers the per month spending and substantially lowers the communications overhead.
A key element of moving to an OPEX model like this is the ability to adapt to change faster. Circumstances can change very quickly. Additional school buildings, unforeseen situations, peak events (registration, end of year), and adopting new educational technology can all lead to a significant shift in your requirements. An OPEX model enables you to adapt to these changes without the need for extensive re-budgeting or bidding. You can be aware of what everything will cost before you commit, and there are no hidden extras. Similarly, if there are budget restrictions within your organization, the district will automatically benefit from the cost reduction for fewer deployed devices. K-12 schools should look for a cloud voice solution that allows flexible integration and customization.
A hybrid solution with elements both on-premises and in the cloud will give larger school districts the flexibility for more advanced communications services without having to use disparate systems. This includes integrations to LMS (Learning Management Systems) or SIS (Student Information Systems) and special education programs (distance learning). A hybrid solution gives schools full autonomy under the same cost effective OPEX deployment model.
New unified communications features added to smart phones will enable professional and personal usage. It is as simple as removing the cost of the teacher’s desktop phone from the overal cost and still enabling them to listen to their voice mail and other system features.