What is cloud PBX?

Grow your business with cloud-based PBX


What is cloud PBX?

Grow your business with cloud-based PBX


What is cloud PBX?

Grow your business with cloud-based PBX


What is cloud PBX?

Grow your business with cloud-based PBX


Cloud-hosted PBX systems are a popular business telephone solution - but will it work for you?

If you are considering a switch to a cloud phone system to upgrade your current phone solution, read on. We'll be exploring what exactly cloud PBX is, how it works, and what its main features and advantages are.

Introduction to cloud phone systems

When we talk about “the cloud”, we usually mean "cloud computing". This is a branch of technology in which an infrastructure is built using app-based software that maintains data in multiple servers spread out through different locations. It allows people to perform tasks and access organizational information using the internet, and without needing to host hardware and databases at their offices.

Cloud phone systems provide a service that allows enterprise-grade telephony to be hosted in the cloud rather than relying on on-premises phones.

What is a PBX platform?

Your cloud PBX VoIP provider is known as a PBX platform. 8x8 is an example of this - it provides a specialized business phone system with many useful PBX features and more, including:

  • Call recordings
  • Visual voicemail
  • Multi-level auto attendant
  • Unlimited calling, SMS, and faxing

How does cloud PBX work?

Cloud-based Private Branch Exchange (also known as cloud PBX, cloud-based PBX, or sometimes even virtual PBX) is a cloud telephone service that mimics traditional Private Branch Exchange while removing the inconvenience associated with it.

Companies use the PBX system (essentially a private telephone network) to manage incoming and outgoing calls to and from the organization. Originally, PBX systems were kept on company premises only. This meant that not only did businesses need to spend a lot of money on setting up and maintaining it, they also needed to invest in other communications solutions for employees who either work at different locations or whose jobs require constant mobility.

Eventually, VoIP-based PBX systems were developed. This mitigated the costs of managing and scaling traditional phone networks connected to landlines. But initially, this was still an on-premises solution that limited options for people who don't work in the office.

Cloud-based PBX was built on that original innovation. It moved the functions of on-premises PBX hardware to the cloud. This allowed workers to use their preferred internet-enabled devices with software downlaoded onto them to do their jobs, rather than being forced to stay at their desks just to use their work phone number.

Thanks to this, all businesses need to do today is to subscribe to a cloud-based telephone solution that provides the same services as traditional vendors plus advanced features and added benefits, including:

  • Call forwarding
  • Automatic call routing
  • Fast and simple implementation
  • Better value for money
  • No expensive and cumbersome machinery to install and maintain

Is cloud PBX the same as VoIP?

Although cloud PBX systems use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to work, the two terms refer to different things.

VoIP is the technology that allows you to make phone calls over the internet. VoIP calling uses Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections to transfer a bi- or multi-directional audio or video feed between devices. To make a VoIP call, you can use either a dedicated IP telephone or a software program (typically referred to as voip app, virtual phone, or softphone).

Cloud PBX uses VoIP to transfer call data. All cloud telephone systems use VoIP systems, but not all VoIP systems are cloud-based. A VoIP telephone service might still rely on in-office machinery to route calls, whereas a cloud PBX system carries out this task remotely.

Cloud PBX and hosted PBX

People tend to use the terms "cloud PBX" and "hosted PBX" interchangeably. This isn't surprising - cloud PBX systems are certainly hosted by your cloud provider. But not all hosted systems are considered “true cloud” telephone solutions.

Hosted PBX can refer to any telephone system that is housed and made available to your business from a building or data center that is separate from your location. Cloud PBX, on the other hand, refers specifically to a multi-tenant PBX solution.

Rather than having to run up extra servers to meet demand, providers of multi-tenanted systems simply add more computing power and storage to their service.

Multi-tenant cloud PBX solves the challenge of scalability, allowing you to add as many users as you need to your plan.

Cloud PBX vs traditional PBX

Traditional PBX systems used switchboards (on-site hardware) to route incoming calls to the right user extension or department. With cloud PBX, a remotely hosted PBX system connects them to remote but secure data centers via the internet in real-time .

With a cloud-hosted system, call queue management, call transfers, IVR menus, and other important functions of a modern business telephone system like voicemail recording and call recording are all carried out on cloud servers.

Summary of differences between traditional and hosted PBX

Traditional PBXHosted PBX
Specialized equipment needs to be set up and maintained on-site.No specialized on-site equipment is necessary.
Minimum-term contracts are often required, with early termination fees if obligations are not met.More flexible subscription plans.
Process for requesting service changes takes up a lot of time and effort.Easily scalable, with the option to add or repurpose lines as needed.
Need to pay technicians for hardware installations.Pay nothing for fast implementation.
Maintenance requires specialist technicians.The system can be managed on your own, using any smart device.

Notable feature upgrades that come with cloud PBX

One of the best things about cloud PBX is that it's flexible enough to add the enhancement or even addition of features essential to business communications today.

Examples include -

Cloud PBX voicemail

Traditional voicemail, both on PBX systems and individual phone lines, has limited storage capacity and only basic recording functionality. A cloud PBX phone system can give you access to business-class voicemail with automated transcription and recordings delivered via email, making message retrieval and storage easy from your Android device, iOS phone, or desktop.

Cloud PBX voicemail offers unlimited storage on the cloud as well as advanced features not available with other systems. With it, you can:

  • Access voicemails anytime from your phone system or via a desktop or mobile device
  • Have visual voicemail delivered to your email inbox so you can forward and share with colleagues
  • Use the do not disturb feature to have calls automatically sent to voicemail
  • Return calls directly from a voicemail message
  • Store and file original voicemail recordings and transcripts for a longer period of time

Video conferencing in the cloud

A feature good cloud PBX providers can also offer that a traditional PBX couldn't is toll-free video conferencing services.

In the past, video conference capabilities needed to be acquired separately from the phone system. But thanks to the cloud, many contemporary phone service providers can include this in their offerings.

8x8's cloud phone system has a robust video conferencing solution for large and small businesses. With options to video call from a computer or through the mobile app, 8x8 gives you access to a number of features:

  • High definition video conferencing on any device for up to 500 participants
  • Screen sharing
  • Enterprise-grade reliability and availability for large and small businesses
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Optional end-to-end encryption
  • Dial-in from 50+ countries.
  • 11 toll-free phone numbers
  • Store recordings on the cloud
  • Stream live to YouTube
  • Google plug-ins and Microsoft integrations that allow you to schedule meetings and invite participants directly from your calendar

The cost savings of using a cloud PBX provider

When compared to legacy communications solutions like on-premises phone systems, a cloud PBX service (especially when it's part of a wider cloud communications system) can save your business some serious money. There are four main ways choosing a unified cloud communications service can minimize your spending:

1. Phone bill reduction: Instead of dealing with pricing that changes every month, you’re charged one flat monthly connection fee. This usually covers unlimited local and long-distance calling, as well as free calls between offices and voicemail.

2. Reduced up-front costs: Because there’s no need to install and maintain specialized hardware, a cloud-based phone system lowers costs. Simply connect any IP phone to your pre-existing internet connection or download the software onto your preferred device.

3. Built-in features: With cloud PBX, there's no need to pay extra for more advanced features because they already come with the service. These include conference calls, video conferencing, caller ID, voicemail, call queues, call recording, and SMS messaging services.

4. No special IT staff requirements: When you choose cloud PBX, the cloud provider handles all the technology. This means you save money by not having to employ a team of IT staff just to keep this one system running.

Taken together, the cost-saving potential of cloud PBX can massively reduce your communications expenditure.

How businesses use cloud-based PBX

We've established that companies can get a lot of benefits out of cloud PBX. But how do they typically implement this? Here are some use cases you'll want to start out with:

Using cloud PBX as part of your business phone system

For businesses that need advantages of a VoIP phone system but don't want to install or maintain machinery on-site, cloud PBX is an ideal solution.

Whether you require a PBX system that primarily handles incoming calls or one that needs to make a lot of outbound calls, opting for cloud PBX is the most cost-effective way to give your employees access to useful features like conference calling, call logs, and call recording.

Allowing you to record conversations with the click of a button, call recording can be useful for training purposes and archiving important conversations. Choosing a cloud PBX service like 8x8 gives you access to call recording that's easy to implement and includes the ability to download and store recordings.

Using cloud PBX for customer support

Employing a cloud PBX system for your business’ customer support requirements helps you ensure that your customers get the highest level of service.

Using a multi-level auto-attendant is the best way to reduce wait times for callers by automatically routing calls to the correct extension. It also lets you automate the customer's initial experience with self-service options, call redirection, and customizable hold music or recorded brand messages.

Cloud PBX is part of the present & future of business communications

If your business is still struggling because it hasn't moved on from legacy telephony systems, you need to act now. Your competitors are probably leveraging VoIP technology, cloud PBX systems, and other smart, cloud-based communications already.

The functions, features, and possibilities for savings discussed above are just some of the reasons why. But the only reason you need is really this: you don't want to be left behind.

Ready to get a cloud PBX for your own business? Contact sales to request a demo today!

Cloud PBX FAQs

Is cloud PBX secure?

Different cloud PBX providers offer varying levels of protection from security threats. 8x8 provides end-to-end encryption and even allows you to create additional levels of security with temporary, one-time passwords for number validations, two-factor authentication, and verified purchases.

Does cloud PBX provide good call quality?

As long as you can guarantee consistent uptime with reliable internet connection, cloud PBX provides you with high definition audio and video streams.

Can cloud PBX systems be used to make video calls?

Yes. Most cloud PBX providers offer the ability to make and receive video calls. You can also use a VoIP PBX system to facilitate video meetings for remote teams.

Which is the best cloud PBX provider for small businesses?

Whether you're a startup or a multinational enterprise (or even anything in between), the best cloud PBX solution will always be the one that can give your company everything it needs now and in the future. With its XCaaS offering, 8x8 is a good option - we may sound biased, but we think we're worth checking out.

Is cloud PBX the same as UCaaS?

No, it's not. UCaaS stands for unified communications as a service. One example of this is 8x8, which incorporates:

  • VoIP telephony
  • Video conferencing
  • SMS text messages
  • Team messaging
  • And more

Cloud PBX is often just part of a UCaaS offering.