By: Bjarne Munch, David A. Willis
Gartner classifies all service provider-based communications and collaboration solutions as "communications as a service." When buying services, the most important criterion should be the feature set, service levels, pricing, and geographic span. Ultimately, how it is delivered should be up to the service provider - and many service providers will use multiple platform strategies simultaneously, even for a single customer. However, the following platform distinctions exist in the market.
- Outsourced IP PBX service â€” Premise-based solution where the IP telephony infrastructure is located within the enterprise sites and is owned and managed by the service provider.
- Hosted IP PBX service â€” Network-based solution where provider-located, owned and managed infrastructure provides IP PBX services (features). The IP PBX dedicated to one enterprise and is owned by the provider.
- IP Centrex service â€” Network-based solution where provider-located, owned and managed infrastructure provides Centrex services. The IP Centrex application and features are shared among multiple customers. Some providers may call this "hosted voice."
- Broadband IP telephony â€” Network-based solution where provider-located, owned and managed infrastructure provides telephony services typically offered via a user-owned or service provider "provided" IP telephony adapter. The provider infrastructure is shared among multiple users and is also known as "voice over broadband" service.
- Personal Internet telephony â€” A growing number of personal Internet telephony services exist from providers, such as Skype, Google, Yahoo and MSN. Although these are largely consumer-focused, use within the enterprise is rising. These services should be used with caution, but may be a part of the communications portfolio (for example, with mobile workers).
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