@COM Cloud solution are usually provided via a private cloud network and not via the public cloud (Internet). This is done with good reason and you can read all about it in the text below.
Advantages of private cloud
Private Cloud networks not only protects your telephony solution from prying eyes, it also adds many other advantages that just can't be offered over the public cloud (Internet). Here are some advantages;
- Easier configuration of phones
The @COM Business Manager dynamically configures all fully supported phones. Most of the configuration can be done over a public cloud network, but a "zero-touch deployment" will no longer be possible. Also, some phone brands will not be capable to update their configuration dynamically, for example to update the text on the display to show who is logged on, or indicate that the phone has been forwarded. The most common technical reasons are that the @COM Business Manager is not providing Dynamic DHCP and phone cannot be remotely accessed.
- Less sensitive to networking errors
Even-though private cloud requires additional networking components like a VPN router, the end result is a simple IP network without complexity. In a public cloud network, other network components like firewall and the Network Address Translation (NAT) feature in the router will often cause havoc to your VoIP connections. Often these network components will attempt manipulate the VoIP traffic in order to allow a better connection, which sounds like a good thing, but it's not! This is because business VoIP phones use different techniques than consumer VoIP phones for which most of these networking components have been built-in VoIP features. The resulting problems are technically quite difficult to resolve and require specialistic knowledge. The biggest problem is usually that the administrator of the firewall/NAT doesn't have proper access rights or has the proper knowledge.
- Lower maintenance costs
The advantages mentioned above will result in lower maintenance costs even-though you are adding additional networking components like a VPN router and VLAN programming in switches. The reason for this is that implementing a VPN router and VLAN programming is rather straight forward an only needed during deployment, after this the network design becomes pretty straight forward and allows for easier maintenance and deployment. This doesn't happen with public cloud, meaning that each and every time maintenance is required, or a new phone is deployed, the costs of implementation will be higher. This is why on locations with more than five phones we already advice the use of public cloud, whilst smaller sites are likely better of using public cloud (depending on the requested telephony features.)
- Lower delays and less bandwidth required (Route optimization)
Phones are able to route audio directly between each other when they are both present in the same local network and not behind a NAT, which is only true in a private cloud network. What happens is that upon answering a call the @COM Business Manager will tell the phones to send their audio (RTP) stream directly to each other's IP address. As a result, the audio stream is going back and forth between the @COM Business Manager in the data center and the destination phone. This means you are not using any VoIP channels on the connection between the location and the @COM Business Manager saving precious bandwidth, and that you are using the shortest IP route possible which results in less delay and less chance of jitter and packet-loss.
- More secure connections
A private cloud network is created using VPN connections between the @COM Business Manager and all locations of your business, this means that all data is send encrypted over the internet. And if implemented correctly, a private cloud network is also not routed to any other IP network and separated from the internet and your local IP network. This will prevent local access to the VoIP network from anywhere in your organisation adding an additional layer of protection. To provide access to the @COM Business Managers CTI services or allow connection from a SIP soft-client, a connection via an additional VPN connection can be created that connects to your local data network to a separate IP network interface on the @COM Business Manager.
The @COM Business Manager always uses a secure HTTPS connection to transport sensitive information, both in private as in public cloud networks. However, it does not use secure SIP and/or secure RTP by default because these techniques introduce more delay and are very sensitive to packet-loss. Also, these techniques add a lot more technical complexity which comes with additional costs and higher risk of incidents in contrast to the use of a private cloud solution.
Advantages of a public cloud network
Everything solution has its pros and cons and this also applies to the private cloud networks. But the private cloud pros by far exceed the cons.
Listed below are some of the commonly claimed advantages of public cloud, but are they really advantages?
- No additional cost of hardware
This can be true but doesn't need to be. In private cloud network you don't always need additional hardware. The required VPN connection can be configured in most routers that are already present to provide the connection to the internet. Most @COM resellers will provide you with a dedicated internet connection for the VoIP connection in order to provide Quality of Service, and the router they use will most likely have the VPN functionality integrated. If not, then a suitable VPN router can already be bought for less than 80 US dollars, which is really not that much. In either way, the additional cost for configuring the VPN router and optionally buying a VPN capable router is far less than the additional service costs a reseller will charge you to maintain the system.
- Lower deployment costs
Indeed this is true, but again the additional cost for configuring the VPN router and optionally buying a VPN capable router is far less than the additional service costs a reseller will charge you to maintain the system.
- Less network complexity
This is questionable, because the VPN connection, DHCP relay and VLAN required in a private cloud network will indeed add additional networking techniques and thus complexity. On the other hand a public cloud network will confront you with lots of additional challenges in order to pass VoIP through a firewall and a Networks Address Translation table (NAT), whilst private cloud networks don't and allow easier remote access to the service engineer in case of an incident or change. It's our experience is that more incidents occur in public cloud networks than in private cloud networks and that incidents occurring in public cloud networks more often require a service engineer on-site than in a private cloud network resulting in higher maintenance costs. So, you decide what is better?
- Public clouds are better protected and are more up-to-date
This is true in a sense, but only because of the fact that public clouds networks require better security in order to stay ahead of hackers. The fact is that hackers are always one step ahead, and in a public cloud you are always one-step behind. Opening up all required IP based services (HTTP, SIP, NTP, DNS, etc...) on a public cloud, means you need to individually protect each and every of these services for hackers. So, you are actually more sensitive to hackers then you would be in a private cloud network where you just need focus on securing the VPN service itself. To be honest, we must admit that even a private cloud network can be hacked, but the fact is that this much harder to do and rarely occurs. Also, because the @COM Business Manager can be offered in a public cloud environment as well, we have taken the effort of securing all the IP services in the best way possible and update them on a regular base. Thus, in case a hacker does get into your private cloud, it will still be pretty hard for him to actually hack one of the services on the @COM Business Manager.