Well, we’ve been officially set up as a Vocalocity Certified Reseller. After Karl Palachuk’s recommendation on Cloud Computing Part Three – Moving to The Cloud we decided to take a long look at Vocalocity as an alternative to our current telecom (AT&T) solution.
Here are a couple situations where we think a hosted PBX might be a good solution for our clients:
- They want capabilities not available on their legacy system
- They don’t have capital to invest in a new installed system
- They have multiple offices
- Remote teleworkers need to interact with the office as if they were onsite.
Our telecom costs look like this:
Grasshopper (another “hosted” PBX service) $25
AT&T local phone, long distance $75
eFax service $17
(Note that we’re a telecommuting company… there’s only one phone line to the office and everyone uses Sprint $99 Simply Everything plans on their cell phones for work. We don’t need anything else with a hosted helpdesk and answering service.)
When I plug my requirements in to the nifty Excel spreadsheet provided by Vocalocity I find that I can have: 1 full extension (metered), 2 virtual extensions for cell phones, the default local company number and auto attendant, a virtual mailbox, 3 call groups (sales, tech support, emergency support), and unlimited US faxing for about the same cost. It will cost me $10 more per month to go to the AT&T internet plan without local phone service.
So, for about $10 more per month I get a full fledged IP PBX (hosted) that integrates with my Outlook (something I don’t get now), that can grow with my company and that I can now demo for the clients that I think would benefit from the service. Of course, that’s the real reason I’m looking at Vocalocity. I get a portion of the monthly recurring billings for all the clients I sign up.
For a company that really hasn’t even tested the VoIP phone waters yet, we’re doing our best to identify solutions that will allow us to serve our client’s needs and keep as much of their revenue within our control as we can. I’m not sure how hosted IP PBX’s compare to in-house systems in larger customers, so we may need to look for additional vendors in the medium and enterprise markets… not that we’re looking for VoIP phone work in that space anyway.
So I’ve been using Level Platform’s Managed Workplace to remotely manage and monitor my client’s systems and I’m wondering now whether that was the best or just the most convenient system.
Did I get sold?
I’m starting to look at the other options again. I was turned off by N-able a while ago because they required that I buy this big package up front. I own a small business and don’t want to invest more than I have to. If I can buy it as-required and by-the-month I will. There’s no datacenter at Redwood. After looking at my options just over a year ago I came upon Ingram Micro’s Seismic program and their hosted Managed Workplace. At the time Kaseya was really off the radar for me. I’m not sure why I didn’t look in to it further. So, now I have LPI remotely hosted by Ingram Micro. The hosting is reliable although they had some trouble with the upgrade to MW2009R1 and they won’t be going to R2 until later this quarter or sometime in Q4 apparently.
Did I miss the boat by not choosing Kaseya or Zenith Infotech? I thought one of the benefits of LPI was that it was agentless. But is that really a benefit? I don’t think it’d be a big deal to install an agent on all the machines I want to manage. And if that agent gave me remote management options I don’t have with an agentless system it might be worth it. I’m starting to watch the Kaseya demos and wondering what the real cost of this extra functionality is. Here are a couple quick items I’ve found that are interesting:
- Kaseya shows you product keys for installed Microsoft product in it’s inventory
- You can message your installed agents
- Integrated backup & disaster recovery option with virtualization and offsite replication via Acronis True Image
- Integrated antivirus / endpoint security option
I need to do more research on Kaseya and look at some user reviews before I really consider it. I’ve looked at Zenith before and I currently use their BDR at a couple clients. I’m not crazy about their offshore support, but I understand that the price reflects their lower cost of providing service… potentially increasing my profitability. But is it really worth it?
I’m not competing with other MSPs on price. Redwood provides an experience that our customers appreciate. We do save them money in some cases, mostly through increased productivity gained through maintenance and automation. In some cases, we replace in-house support and save even more.
What are your experiences with agent vs. agentless remote monitoring tools? I’m not looking for in-depth evaluations of products, really more of a discussion of the technologies they use. Comparisons of individual products will have to wait for another day.