Moving to a cloud phone system means taking some risks on a new technology. While most cloud systems advertise very high up-times, one thing that sets them apart from other phone systems is what happens when the Internet goes down. This alone could be a determining factor of whether or not a cloud system is right for your business.
Reliance on Internet
Your cloud phone system is 100% reliant on the Internet to function. Both the hardware and software used to manage your phone communications are based in the cloud, not on your local network. Most often when companies have issues with their phone systems, it is because of poor Internet quality rather than issues with the cloud itself. Basically, when a cloud provider advertises 99.9% up time, they probably aren't lying. However, they can't promise that your local Internet provider will be able to guarantee the same.
When the Internet Goes Down
If, and when, the Internet goes down, your cloud phone system will also go down. This poses a number of problems. First of all, since the hardware that manages your phones is outside of your facility you lose contact with all incoming calls. If you are running a call center or other business that requires uninterrupted phone access to your customers, this can be a big problem. Secondly, you probably will not be able to make phone calls internally either. Some cloud providers offer a fail-safe feature that adds redundancy to your network just in case, which will allow you to stay in touch internally, but the cost may be outside of your budget.
Depending on how your cloud phone system is set up, you may find that losing Internet access also blocks your computers from accessing internal servers. Many times, computers integrated in a cloud-based system are connected through the phone's data port. As a result, while the phone is searching for an Internet connection and resetting itself, your computer may not be able to find even local information that is stored in on-premise servers.
Anyone considering a cloud phone system should spend a significant amount of time researching their Internet provider's reliability and service speeds. No matter how great the cloud service is on its own, if your Internet connection is bad, you won't be able to take advantage of everything that the cloud has to offer. You will also have limited options for recourse if the problem is your Internet and not the cloud provider itself. If you work in an industry that can't afford any down time, consider other options that won't leave you stranded if an Internet failure occurs.