VoIP Software Reviews

By Brian Boguhn
Updated: May 16, 2011

Whether you use a hosted VoIP solution or an on-premise VoIP solution, software is going to be involved to help manage the system as well as make it work properly. We’ll take a look at both solutions and talk about what a company can expect in terms of software for each.

The Hosted VoIP Solution

A hosted VoIP solution provides the easiest software solution. All of the backend pieces of the VoIP solution are housed with the provider, including the software that operates the system, and the host configures the system and prepares it for use based on conversations with the client. For the end-user administrator, there will be one of two means to interface with the system. Either a dedicated client will be installed and configured to point to the host, or a web interface can be accessed through a standard browser. Both options offer the same features, just different ways of interacting with the system. Administrators will be able to add new users, make configuration changes (how calls are routed, answering options extension alterations), and do anything else that a business might require during the day “on the fly”.

Of the two options, the web browser would be the preferred choice as no software would need to be installed to make it work. This is essentially a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution. The less a client needs to install, the better.

The On-Premise VoIP Solution

Things get a little more complex when it comes to the on-premise solution. In this case, the customer has purchased all of the pieces of the VoIP system and is implementing them at the company’s location.

While vendors differ, the offerings work in the same basic fashion. Typically, there will be at least one computer that is hosting the phone system. A second might exist for redundancy purposes. The computer hosting the phone system will either run with a proprietary operating system that the VoIP is built into, or the VoIP will be installed on top of Windows or Linux or the like. A separate system may be provided for storage for voice-mail.

The nuts and bolts of the VoIP software will provide everything needed to configure the system to work with your network, your e-mail solution, and anything else you may be using in conjunction with it. This can either be run directly from the server on which it is installed or, similar to the hosting solution, accessed from another system by either a proprietary software interface or a web browser. Unlike the hosting solution, it is up to the customer to complete configure the system and make sure it works as expected.

Once configuration is completed and confirmed, the same proprietary software or web interface is used for the daily administration of the system. Administrators will be doing the same types of things their counterparts who use a hosted solution are doing (adding new users, etc.).

End-User Software

Most VoIP solution, whether hosted or on-premise, provide a software interface users can install onto their systems to allow them to make phone calls directly from their computers. Again, while the vendors will differ, the software will be similar. In most cases, the software looks like a phone when it is running. It will need to be configured to connect to the VoIP system in use. Once configured, users will be able to call from their desktops.

Final Comments

The biggest difference in the hosted and on-premise solutions is that the host will get the system up and running when using the former and the customer will when using the latter. Users with an on-premise setup, then, will have a bit more of a learning curve in the beginning than hosted users. However, once the initial setup is complete, the basis administration and the software used to accomplish it are very similar. Think of it like this: Microsoft’s Word and Corel’s WordPerfect are two different programs, but both accomplish the same thing in that you use them to create documents. It’s the same as comparing the software for hosted VoIP to the software for on-premise VoIP. Different programs, but both allow you to administer and use your VoIP system.
 

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