Do You Have a Multi-Site Business?

Has your company outgrown its first office? Have you expanded to many offices and/or have people working from home or satellite offices?

Multi-Site Voice Networks

No one doubts that the world of business connectivity is changing. Today it is not uncommon for a company to have multiple branch offices and numerous employees working from home. But does multi-site mean multi-headaches? Can a company connect its many "locations" easily and with the same quality as if they were only in one larger location?

A multi-site business linked to a main facility.

Yes - you CAN, but it depends on a lot of factors. In this short article I will focus on the voice side of this multi-site network.

Connectivity Options

There are two major scenarios we see customers using in connecting their locations. The first is having a phone system at each branch office. Businesses throughout time have had the option to put a "PBX" (Private Branch Exchange, or phone system) in each office, with local lines plugged in. It works, and is reliable, but it can be a lot more expensive. Plus it doesn't allow those multiple offices as much flexibility to interconnect. Maybe those sites can dial from extension to extension around the country just by dialing 3 or 4 digits. But not much more.

On the other extreme, we are seeing more and more customers put a single IP-based PBX in the HQ office and just plugging phones into their branch offices and home offices. But while this is cheaper, and gives amazing multi-site connectivity (everyone is on the same phone system regardless of where they sit), technically how do you DO such a thing?  If you try to put your phone system on the public Internet, you could be hacked and have thousands of dollars in toll-fraud to International countries!

There are two main ways to do it. First, use "VPN" (virtual private network) technology built into firewalls to create a virtual tunnel between all offices and telecommuters.

Multi-business stations.

Then the phone traffic can safely ride across this virtual Internet tunnel and get from place to place while keeping your phone system safe. But what if you have 10 home telecommuters needing this functionality? Are you willing to spend an extra $400+ per user on higher-end firewalls to accomplish this?

The second (and much more "up-and-coming" way) is to publish your phone system's address on the public Internet (aka, VOIP.yourdomain.com ). Some of the latest systems have protection against something called "brute force attacks." In a nutshell, this means that if someone tries to connect a phone to your phone system in order to make free phone calls (on your dime), the system is watching. If they try, say, 5 times unsuccessfully to login with a bad password, the system will block their IP Address. If they try, say, 10 or 20 times, the system blocks the entire subnet (or area of the Internet... like a neighborhood or a company) from even trying.

This sort of new technology is a REVOLUTION in our industry. Now it is possible to just physically plug in a phone anywhere, and as long as the Internet is reliable, you can start making good quality phone calls on your business extension, even from your summer vacation home! Imagine having a part-time receptionist working from home and all it costs you is a couple hundred dollars (one time) for an IP phone!

Virtual Numbers

One big development that recently came about is the ability for phone numbers from any city in the country to hit your single, central phone system as if they were a local call. This means that a call to the Chicago office can hit the Stamford or Hartford office, then be delivered over the Internet connection to the Chicago employee as a free extension call. The customer knows nothing about the magic that took place to deliver their voice. They just hear a good phone call.

This is also the way that some companies make themselves appear like more of a national company. They publish numbers in many major cities, when they might not even have any employees there. These numbers can be as cheap as $3.00 per month per city!

Are there Risks? Other Benefits?

Without going into too much detail... you always have to be concerned about the quality of the public Internet. It is certainly a case of "you get what you pay for" at times (even if rarely). The public Internet is not guaranteed like a "managed" connection (typically a T1). So please keep in mind that if you have a fair number of people in a branch office, we might recommend something more robust and reliable than just a cable modem service. (Ask us if you're not sure.)

And one more thing... It should go without saying that the cost savings from combining and reconfiguring the office communications (whether it be a single office or multiple offices and telecommuters) can be dramatic. More than half of the time, the reconfiguration savings we create exceeds the cost of a new system. Essentiallythat means the new phone system is free!

For further information and to see some important considerations required for single and multi-site voice networks, please click on this white paper.

Ok, so it wasn't a short article but there is so much to share about how we can save you money and give your network a better voice! Call LeBlanc Communications today at 203-493-0267 to see how we can assist you. 

We're always looking for a better way to Give Your Network a Voice!®.

Sincerely,
Michael LeBlanc, Founder and CEO
LeBlanc Communications Group, Inc.