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Author Topic: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?  (Read 3871 times)

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Offline Scarlett66

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How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« on: April 14, 2016, 01:59:56 PM »
I feel like I'm about the only "anti-Hosted voice out there".   With over 2000 hosted providers out there, no one even has thought to ask where their servers are housed.  Where is your server tonight?  Someone's garage, back of their warehouse?  Why are customers being talked into paying for a PBX as a service?  It's just IP Centrex and not a good deal for the customer who signs and pays for a service whether it works or not!

Offline hitechcomm

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2016, 03:45:21 PM »
There are many trunk slammer Hosted Companies out there. But there are many very good Hosted Companies. Weeding them out is not easy.
As Hardware PBX manufactures move there platform to Hosted, the writing is on the wall.

It's up to you to keep up with today's technology or fall by the way side.

Good Luck.

Online MacGyver

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2016, 03:34:30 PM »
Fortunately this isn't a battle we currently have to fight as we're a one stop shop with our clients.  We handle everything technology related for the client or we don't play.  That said, however, rest assured you're not the only anti-hosted voice out there though I can see why at times you might feel that way.

Server security today is huge, and the question you posit is very valid, especially with the increasing reach of HIPAA.  Take Google Voice for example.  Sure, Google is a giant, so why wouldn't a practitioner think that a Google Voice number would be HIPAA compliant?  Better think again.  Our clients have been educated well enough that they won't even consider Cloud based applications for medical notes because of the implications when the pipe goes down.

Hosted is sold as the golden egg, but the Laws of Economics are in play.  Just look at how the prices of phone systems have changed.  We're now buying complete cabinets for the price of a digital card a decade ago.  I replaced a $25,000 system with a $2,500 system recently. 

It's a great question; thanks for posting it.  :054:

-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.

Offline telemarv

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2016, 07:06:56 PM »
When I'm up against hosted this what I talk about. Never mind ROI after 5 years of hosted vs ownership

What happens when you trust your business to a hosting provider if:

   The provider goes bankrupt?
   The provider also provides services to a business nemesis?
   You want to break your contract?
   You grow beyond the provider’s capacity?
   The provider decides to make changes to their core infrastructure without telling you?
   The provider starts harvesting your Call Detailed Records to build up a customer database for their own needs?
   What happens to your business if your provider falls victim to a cyber attack?
   What happens to your Return on Investment when your ISP starts to raise the cost of your Internet service?
   What happens to your Return on Investment when you renew your contract?
   How do you guarantee the privacy of your telecommunications when all voice traffic is routed through your service provider?
   What if your company becomes the target of a political enemy?
       •   Will your voice services get shut down?
       •   How do you protect your rights and your ability to do business?
       •   How will you call for help?
   What if someone hacks into the cloud and steals your intellectual property?
   What if someone hacks into the cloud and steals your customer database?
   What happens to the business if it falls victim to social engineering?
   HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NOT BEING IN CONTROL?
Marv CCNA


If people had more manners... we'd need fewer laws.

Offline tonyburkhart

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2016, 08:45:17 AM »
Firstly, welcome to the form! Great topic, and an astute observation. Personally, and professionally, my answer is Star2Star because they truly have the best of both worlds. 100% hosted is a nightmare, and always has been. It just doesn't have the control over call quality or (in at least 80% of the examples of providers) have any support behind the product with a customer service mindset. I've been in the Star2Star world since 2007 and think it was built right, from the ground up, with voice quality, scalability, and customer service at its core. It's also got the flexibility to do a purchase/lease model, or a monthly model as as direct comparison to the fully hosted (plug n pray) systems.
Thanks,
Tony Burkhart
Team Burkhart
www.teamburkhart.com

Offline CMDL_GUY

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2016, 11:39:31 AM »
When I'm up against hosted this what I talk about. Never mind ROI after 5 years of hosted vs ownership

What happens when you trust your business to a hosting provider if:

   The provider goes bankrupt?
   The provider also provides services to a business nemesis?
   You want to break your contract?
   You grow beyond the provider’s capacity?
   The provider decides to make changes to their core infrastructure without telling you?
   The provider starts harvesting your Call Detailed Records to build up a customer database for their own needs?
   What happens to your business if your provider falls victim to a cyber attack?
   What happens to your Return on Investment when your ISP starts to raise the cost of your Internet service?
   What happens to your Return on Investment when you renew your contract?
   How do you guarantee the privacy of your telecommunications when all voice traffic is routed through your service provider?
   What if your company becomes the target of a political enemy?
       •   Will your voice services get shut down?
       •   How do you protect your rights and your ability to do business?
       •   How will you call for help?
   What if someone hacks into the cloud and steals your intellectual property?
   What if someone hacks into the cloud and steals your customer database?
   What happens to the business if it falls victim to social engineering?
   HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NOT BEING IN CONTROL?

All are excellent questions/points!   I'm with you Marv but I don't think we can keep winning.   :002:

The older clients take heart with those points but the younger ones could care less.
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.”   -John Adams

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Offline hitechcomm

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2016, 05:19:06 AM »
Larry you hit it on the head.  We're fighting a losing fight.  Hosted is here until something else comes along.

Offline Kumba

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2016, 10:56:33 AM »
We decided to fight off our hosting competition by becoming part of the problem? LOL

But then again, we do call centers so definitely a different species of customer all around. The familiarity stops once you get past connecting to the carrier.

But even when I look around my side of the sandbox we still have a lot of the same issues like Marv pointed out, although quite a bit less since the nature of the business attracts shady customers to begin with. Morality is a very very subjective term in the outbound call center world. Hence our policy of not advising or otherwise helping customers make business decisions. We can tell you what the laws are, but we won't interpret them for you.

But we do have some of the same common issues as anything hosted.

These are some of the biggest issue we run into when we get new clients who have used other hosted services:
- Bad onsite network and ISP at client (It's what is broken 9 times out of 10 on every new client)
- Quality and Capacity of hosted infrastructure
- Quality and Capacity of Carrier (or the ability to even use your own carrier)
- Support availability and skill
- Lock-in that resembles racketeering at times
- Lack of access to raw data


Most of our clients don't seem to care much about ROI or financials. They look at the cost to buy the equipment out right and decide that a small monthly line item in the budget from now to eternity is better. A lot of them also don't want to maintain any equipment and prefer that they get the free maintenance and upgrades that comes along with it. Plus if they want to change services or walk away, they can do so without any finance agreement or long term contract hanging over their head. Again, not your typical business, where the ability to fold up overnight is a sought after option.

I will say that we spend a decent amount of time at our company doing nothing more then diagnosing bad networks at the client's site. I would like to say that most of it is just cause the local 15 year old PC gamer nephew who installed a router and didn't know what he was doing, but we see more and more that networks are being over-engineered by someone with 3-4 letter curse words (acronyms) after their name. For the record, the less complex and fewer features you enable on any router and/or switch, the more robust the network becomes.
ViciDial Consulting for Call Centers - I'm one of those Evil Asterisk/VoIP Guys. MBSWWYIPPBX

Offline tonyburkhart

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2016, 01:32:02 PM »
Great reply, thanks! Based on that, actually, kind of leads me into another question. If it needs moved elsewhere, by all means, do so.

What's your favorite (or preferred) make/model of edge router? We have become a Meraki reseller in the last month because our experience with their equipment is stellar! I know there are so many other options, figured I'd ask the one guy who deals with the edge device and ISP for SIP all day :)
Thanks,
Tony Burkhart
Team Burkhart
www.teamburkhart.com

Offline Kumba

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2016, 10:20:19 PM »
I can't really say there's any one firewall that works better then the others. What I can say is that most any firewall you can buy in the $150 range will work great for most fairly large networks. We've had real good results with clients using Asus RT series of routers/firewalls.

Any built-in modem router is usually garbage, and any $40 router from Walmart is garbage. They just aren't built to handle the sheer number of UDP Packets Per Second that SIP audio throws at it. They are meant for large TCP workloads like streaming video or playing video games. SIP is unique in that it has a very high Packets Per Second and uses UDP for the audio stream. Most cheap routers just do NOT have the CPU needed to process a lot of UDP.

We've also had some of the more saavy clients use Linux or BSD based firewalls with great success. PFSense, Untangle, Shorewall, etc. Some are more use friendly then others. About half of them have moved to a free with paid add-on's business model. I'm a fan of Shorewall but it's about the most unfriendly one out there short of configuring IPTables or PF itself. These all scale like you wouldn't believe on the crappiest of hardware too. A $100 ITX server will outperform a $1000 piece of Cisco gear. Pretty much all of these require you to be somewhat familiar with the underlying OS.

As far as the big stuff goes from vendors like Cisco, Juniper, Adtran, etc, we usually have issue with over-zealous security settings. Sometimes this is just how it's set by default, but over half the time it's because someone who specializes in XYZ piece of equipment feels the need to enable EVERY feature to justify their existence. I'm sorry, but a network with 140 endpoints does not need OSPF and segregated VLAN segments for every switch in the organization. I also shouldn't need to hit more then one gateway to get to the internet.

Ohh, and I hate SonicWall. I'm told they recently figured out how to make SIP work, but I don't care. Only ever had 1 client get SIP working across a SonicWall and now they're afraid to touch it because it might break.

Most of what I see breaking sip is just router configurations more then the hardware. Here's what I usually have to Fix:

1) Disable any SIP Helper, SIP ALG, SIP Deep Packet Inspection, Etc.
2) Disable IDS/IPS or DDoS Protection for the carrier's IP (or just disable altogether)
3) Correct port forwards for BOTH SIP and RTP ports
4) With multiple SIP devices, usually need a unique RTP port range for each one


The Meraki stuff looks like a great option if you are an MSP. That way you can manage the clients network without having to go on site or remember all their random credentials.
ViciDial Consulting for Call Centers - I'm one of those Evil Asterisk/VoIP Guys. MBSWWYIPPBX

Offline tonyburkhart

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2016, 10:29:58 PM »
Perfect, thanks. Exactly what i was looking for, and almost exactly what I assumed. I hate that Cisco bought Meraki, but it's great edge routing hardware and software, IMHO.

Agree, agree, agree. SonicWALL is a turd. Worst firewall on the market, and ESPECIALLY when it comes to SIP. They have had multiple revisions of firmware and just can not get it right. I don;t care if they told me it works flawlessly with every SIP carrier now and forever... I still won't invest in a SonicWALL.

Love PF, and have never tried Shorewall - will give it a shot during the next RnD session. Thanks for the heads up!
Thanks,
Tony Burkhart
Team Burkhart
www.teamburkhart.com

Offline NFCphoneman

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2016, 07:44:15 AM »
I like PFSense, a lot. We use it in-house, for some of our customers, and it also handles all of our equipment at the two colos.  Ironically, we've switched to Sonicwall when we need a router for a customer.  The hardware is readily available and there are options for UTM, if the customer needs them.

We've only had one issue with a Sonicwall router. It was at a homeless center and the power-that-be "hired" one of the homeless guys as their IT person. They started having call quality issues with their SIP, and I couldn't figure out why. It was at a stressful time, so I advised them to move to POTS.

Later, I found out that the "IT Guy" had opened up WiFi for everyone.  Apparently 50-200 people trying to stream everything you could think of (and more) will really bog-down a Sonicwall doing content filtering, anti-spyware, anti-virus, etc...  Who would have thought?

Online MacGyver

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Re: How are you fighting off the hosted competition?
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2016, 09:06:32 AM »
We used Sonicwall almost exclusively for decades and I do have SIP running across them, but since they've been bought by Dell, "turd" is a compliment.  We're flushing them one at a time as they reach EOL and are still searching for our new prefrred, go-to replacement.

BTW, on Sonicwall make sure to pay attention to the UDP timeout in the rule.
-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.