Connection telecom buttonWhen leading cloud-based PBX provider and telco Connection Telecom adopted cloud-based telephony for its own communications in 2009 it was more than just a show of good faith.

“We were mindful of the fact that all organisations go through major changes, so it was with a view to accommodate future growth and displacement that we adopted cloud,” says Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom.

Nothing stays the same

Out of all telephony platforms, cloud provides the best alignment with companies’ growth and change objectives:

  • Simplicity of installation – it allows companies on the move to simply unplug phones at the old office and plug them in at an adequately provisioned new residence. As phones remain registered to the same cloud-based servers, they retain their geographic numbers and extensions.
  • Simplicity of moves, adds and changes (MACs) – as more people join (or leave) a company – some remotely or with a high degree of mobility – and project-based workgroups form and disband, a cloud-based solution makes MACs a non-issue. Users can be added at will without concern for hardware or software requirements or physical location in the virtualised hosted setting of a cloud setup.
  • Ease of management – in a dynamic business environment marked by rising and falling demand for services, roving staff as well as changes in address, cloud-enabled centralised management and elastic provisioning of capacity is an elegant catch-all solution.

Case in point

The proof of the pudding came in July this year, when Connection Telecom staged a move across Cape Town.

Lith says the company had few worries or costs concerning the telephony portion of its move, other than provisioning enough bandwidth.

Minimum disruption

“We literally only had to make sure we had enough bandwidth for our needs, pack up our phones on a Friday afternoon, plug them in, route the new site to our hosted servers, and we were up and running with the same numbers and extensions. The only change on our business card reprints is our physical address. Even our geographic number stayed the same.”

“We were able to focus more on issues like design of the office, including procuring enough air-conditioning capacity for our people, and getting our furniture and equipment across. In terms of cost and effort, those items significantly outweighed the telephony component.”

Major saving

Fork-lifting analogue

As a result, the company saved around R400 000 compared to a scenario of forklifting an on-site PBX with 40 extensions to a new site, laying discreet cabling, and re-provisioning an interface into the public telephone network.

In such a scenario, he says, PRI infrastructure would have had to be installed at a cost of R30 000. Telephony cabling and installation might easily amount to another R60 000. Add various other hard and soft costs, and Lith says a moving bill of R400 000 is not unthinkable.

Schlepping an on-site IP PBX

Had the company been faced with moving an on-site IP-based PBX, the cost and effort would still be considerable, says Lith.

“We would have had to invest in new servers or moved the old ones across, and we’d need an exhaustive cut-over plan involving decommissioning and re-commissioning of servers after hours, using overtime resources. The plan would require much effort, involving assigning new IP ranges and ensuring everything networks to the new ranges and attains stability within the space of a weekend.”

“On-site IP is less challenging and costly than an analogue project, but still requires much more of an investment than cloud,” he says.

He advises that companies considering a move to the cloud as part of a move might have too much on their hands. “Rather plan the two separately. If you know you’re going to move to a new address in two years, it may be wise to consider migrating to the cloud sooner rather than later. That way it’s one less thing to worry about when the time comes.”

Unlocking value

Lith says their new office park – Black River Park – has excellent fibre connectivity, and access costs are expected to come down substantially in August with a 25% Diginet rate reduction from Telkom.

With the savings from the move, combined with the savings from the lower rates, Connection Telecom decided to invest in a hosted IP-based videoconferencing solution between its Cape Town and Johannesburg operations as a value-add.

“With the cost of bandwidth at an all-time low, this is an option available to all cloud customers,” says Lith. “But we find that cloud frees up value on a range of levels, which are obvious during times of organisational change. Without it, we might frankly not have been in a position to make the move.”

About Connection Telecom

Connection Telecom was founded in 2004 as a pioneering independent provider of proven carrier-grade IP PBX solutions to Southern African businesses. Since then, it has built on its telecommunication experience and grown its communications portfolio to include on-demand call centres, rapidly implemented and flexibly provisioned at low cost to offer speed to market to its customers, and introduced analytics to track call patterns and costs. Connection Telecom provides an end-to-end communications service that straddles voice termination, routing, hosting and management, and the company has had much success in creating zero-rated call communities. Its solutions operate in physical as well as virtual settings, hosted on- or off-site in the client’s environment or its own fully-redundant data centre. The Telviva family of enterprise PBXs and other products are aimed at enterprise customers and smaller businesses, and are suited to vertical industry applications. Feature-rich, managed and open (extensible), these solutions allow freedom of choice in handsets and add-ons, and a low total cost of ownership. The company has offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg with on-site support in 28 locations. Its major clients include Engen Petroleum, FNB, Lewis, RMB Asset Management, UCS, Old Mutual Finance and Vox Telecom.

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About Rob Lith

ICT industry heavyweight and Internet specialist Rob Lith has been involved in the industry for the last 20 years. Coming from a strong sales background and with a lifelong interest in technology, Rob has an in-depth knowledge of Internet markets, technology and products. He sees VoIP, location based services and presence as the “next wave” of technological advancement. Rob started out in the retail sales business in London in 1978, returning to South Africa to join Compustat in 1989, soon moving up to Durban to head up its KZN branch. He found a like mind in Steve Davies, who became his long term collaborator. Rob extended his knowledge of the SA technology and Internet business at Internet Africa (which became UUNET, then WorldCom, then Verizon), before striking out on his own in 2003 to co-found Connection Telecom.


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