Before the 2007 tax year ended, OpenRain decided to finally solidify a telephony strategy for the next year or so. Key requirements were..
- Easy ad-hoc and scheduled conferences.
- Mobile flexibility and continuity across physical locations.
- Scalability for the next couple years.
- Voice mail
- Call forwarding.
- Little to no management overhead. (I don’t want to run a dedicated PBX.)
- Usable hardware.
- Practical prices for worldwide incoming/outgoing calls.
- Less than ~$2K initial investment.
It came down to one of two primary directions..
- Hosted VoIP (such as with Vonage or Qwest) with SIP phones such as from Cisco or Avaya.
- Skype with 3rd-party hardware and Mac soft-phone.
After some debate, we chose to use Skype exclusively for services, and have been fairly satisfied. I have a few beefs, but at less than $100 per year per person, I can’t complain too much.
- Instant gratification. Easy to set yourself up for calls to/from landlines.
- Good soft-client with videoconferencing support; Address Book.app integration is present in the latest Mac beta client.
- Inexpensive. Less than $100 per seat per year for SkypePro and SkypeIn (an incoming number).
- Awesome value when bundled with an IPEVO SOLO.
- Extremely simple web interface for distributing company credits.
- Concurrent logins from multiple locations. I leave my SOLO on 24/7 and use the soft-client on the road.
- Great quality on Skype-to-Skype calls. Good quality to landlines.
- My biggest gripe: In the U.S., outgoing calls do NOT show your SkypeIn number on the recipients phone.
- Vendor lock-in, since Skype uses a proprietary protocol. Since cost of entry for services is so low, however, it may not be a huge deal if your want to switch to a SIP-based provider.
- The WiFi-Phones all suck. The IPEVO SOLO is the only desktop model I like.
- Possible future screwage of SkypeIn numbers if they ever change.
- No 911, which is a general issue with VoIP services.