Asking which breed of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) software is best is almost like asking which car is best, or which beer is best. Almost as many different answers will emerge as there are different kinds available, and one thing is quite clear: there are many different kinds out there. But abstract discussions of value won't get VoIP in place, and IT-Online recently took a look at the market to help some businesses make the decision about which VoIP is the best.
Immediately, the IT-Online reports note that VoIP isn't specifically right for every business. As WhichVoIP's founder Mitchell Barker notes, VoIP works great for businesses that have high call costs — a lot of long-distance or international calling — as well as those that need flexibility, like operations that need to ramp up staffing for busy seasons.
But then the question becomes, which of the many VoIP options out there is best? That's a question, sadly, that can only be answered by the individual business. Much like the questions of best car or best beer or best anything like that, it's a situation that will change based on individual needs and tastes. Some businesses may do best with a hosted system, in that there's not much need for hardware on hand aside from a few basic things like IP phones for endpoints. In that case, a monthly subscription fee is paid for access. Others prefer a system where the hardware is kept with the business itself; that ensures that the maintenance and the like is done to the business' standards, and if something goes wrong, repairs can start immediately. Some businesses are going to a hybrid solution, in which some equipment is kept on site while some is remote for more options and better flexibility.
A hosted solution can be great, but companies must know that repairs, maintenance and upgrades are in someone else's hands. Plus, the quality of the connection is directly related to the quality of the Internet connection available, so without that on hand, a hosted model may not work. Meanwhile, an IP-PBX system provides total control over the system, and new features can be added later, but the business is thus required to do the additions itself.
Finding the best in VoIP depends greatly on the individual tastes, attitudes, and needs of the business bringing the solution into the fold. There is, in the end, really only the right solution for the business, and that decision comes after careful analysis of needs and related solutions. But there are also plenty of solutions that will offer customization options — some features can be removed or added with a little more or less expense, depending on the situation — so it may well be that a business can set up its own best solution by cherry-picking the desired options.
There isn't really an answer to the question of the best in VoIP, but there is an answer to the best for a particular business in VoIP. It's an answer that can only be found with careful analysis and consideration, so those planning to bring in a solution should only do so after that analysis is done.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson