Tuesday, 31 December 2013

VoIP Hosted PBX and Mobile VoIP for 2014

Adoption of VoIP telephony is growing fast in Hong Kong and Singapore. This past year has seen Cloud Solutions increasing their VoIP customers by over 500%.

If you are starting a new business then VoIP is the only choice as the flexibility VoIP offers far outweighs the traditional PSTN telephone systems.

While we have seen the traditional telephone providers dropping their land-line price to keep those price sensitive clients, however it is always going to be worth investing more for VoIP if  there was a choice.

So what are the difference?

VoIP is voice over IP, with IP being a reference to the Internet or IP based networks. The changes in your office mean that phones now plug into the same network socket (RJ45) as your computers. And yes there are WiFi IP phones available, they are not yet main stream, however cordless phones using DECT technology are. The DECT phones are the same concept as the home phones that connect back to a base unit and provide a cordless phone experience.

So if you have an existing telephone system you would need to replace the phones to new IP phones which will connect into your computer network and become a device just like your computers and printers.

Yealink T46G - Top VoIP Phone in 2013
This also now means your phones communicate with the outside world via your broadband or internet connection. There is no longer a need to wait for your telecom provider to install specific lines into your office. In other words, your office phone number(s) is no longer tied or connected to a single socket on the wall in your office. This relationship is now broken and thus introduces the flexibility a small business demands. For example if you start working from a home office or business center, and then move to your own office, all that is required is an Internet connection and once your IP phone is plugged in it will ring.  This also covers a disaster recovery situation, if a business needs to move premises overnight, the phone will ring the moment they are plugged in and have Internet access from any location in the world!

Is the Voice Quality Better than Skype?

VoIP uses different algorithms to compress the audio or sound stream. When setting up your IP phones you can select your preferred compress settings. We use High Definition (HD) voice which is a superior sound quality than your traditional PSTN phone system. The sound quality with VoIP is excellent as a wider sound wave is delivered giving a full sound experience similar to what you may experience when watching an HD video with surround sound. So yes, the quality is better than your old PSTN phones and Skype.

The VoIP phone system itself is clever enough to accommodate a phone using HD while connected to someone on an old traditional phone, the sound transformation happens in real-time.

How Do You Connect a IP-PBX to the Telephone Network?

Cloud Solutions only offers cloud hosted IP-PBX's. This means the connect to the PSTN or public telephone network is done via the Internet and a SIP Provider. The IP-PBX is connected to the SIP Provider via a SIP Trunk (like a VPN connection). A single SIP Trunk can be single or multi channel and it is the channel that determines how many concurrent calls you can make. It is possible for a single multi-channel Trunk to support up to 150 concurrent calls.  So the role of the SIP Provider is to provide a gateway or connection between the IP world and the old phone PSTN world. In years to come everyone will be on an IP network so calls can be made direct to another party without it connecting to the SIP Provider or PSTN. While this is possible today, most people still connect to VoIP users via a PSTN. 

Users can have a URI or phone address like an email address, so calling sip:sales@cloudsolutions.asia would be the same as +8523973848 thus removing any geographic location or country code. Phones still have issues with entering letters so numbers are still easier to input but if you work from a computer you can simply type the URI into the softphone to reach the other party.

What about Features and Functions?

CloudPBX or our hosted IP-PBX supports a wide range of features that are not available with old phone systems. Below are some of the feature you can enjoy. 

    ✓ Unified Voicemail✓ Do Not Disturb
    ✓ Call Forward✓ Extension Dialling
    ✓ Call Hold✓ Multiple Phone support
    ✓ Call waiting✓ Direct Dial Numbers
    ✓ Call Screening Lists✓  Pick Up Group
    ✓  Follow me up to 20 numbers✓  Music On Hold
    ✓  Fax to email✓  Auto attendant
    ✓  Distinctive Ringing✓  Remote inquiry for voicemail
    ✓  Caller ID Blocking✓  Short code dialing
    ✓  Inbound automatic

To learn more about VoIP please visit our web site www.cloudpbx.asia or contact us at anytime.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

GDrive (Google Docs) Integration with Egnyte Hybrid Cloud

If your company has adopted GDrive you will appreciate it does require a transition from the "old" to a "new" way of working. For many this old way may still be the best way, it wasn't broken!

What do we mean by old way?

Traditionally companies have had a central file and print server whereby printing is managed centrally along with their file storage. Normally the IT department would set up a secure sharing arrangement on the central file server whereby we may have a folder for the Finance Department, Marketing and Sales Department, Customer Files etc. A central folder hierarchy is established and everyone follows this. We may have even had mapped drives installed where by M:\ was marketing and F:\ was finance etc.

This approach has worked. It would ensure everyone knows where to save files and for others to locate the files. It has been done this way for paper documents for years. Open a folder for the client and file all documents into that folder. People understand this. It works.

Now with Google's GDrive we have a few challenges to this traditional way of working. Let us consider the plus issues. Searching. Google's real strength is search. So simply entering some keywords will execute a fast search at Google speed and list all your required documents on your screen. No need to spend time to navigate hundreds of folders to locate the customers information. However is this enough for established organisations?  I suggest no!

My personal preference is still to define a central folder structure that everyone can follow to either label, tag or store their documents in. GDrive does not offer an ability to define this central store. While you could use one user's account to create a folder structure and share those folders to everyone it is not quite the same as having a central server. GDrive also treats the storage per person and not as a central store. Traditionally we have had say 1000GB drive that we all share. With GDrive we get 30GB each to share between email and documents. Individuals can then purchase more. So if we take our idea of one person being the structure creator then that person could buy 1T of extra storage from Google allowing all documents to be stored in the created shared folder structure of that user.

Another issue we have is when people leave your organisation. In the "old way" it did not matter as all their documents were saved in the central department folder. The documents were generally not connected to their login or their email account. With Google however, if we remove the user, and if they are owners (creators) of any documents, those documents will be removed IF the administrator does not take the steps to migrate those documents to another user. This could be an issue for those that simply delete the user's mailbox without thinking.

So how can we get the best of both worlds?

We really like Egnyte's Hybrid Cloud File server. This gives us the best of the old world and integrates Google Docs or GDrive. By integrating both solutions we get:

  1. a central file store the same as we have always had ... but in the Cloud
  2. we can keep our mapped drives
  3. we can have data stored locally and kept in sync with the Cloud
  4. supports integration to Active Directory and other security models 
  5. allows Google Docs to be "saved" into a folder the same way we have done for years
  6. allows Google Docs to be opened from the shared central folder
  7. can access via iPhone, iPad etc
So for those companies moving away from Office, Word and Excel then you can continue to enjoy using Google Docs to create content but when it comes to then "filing" and "archiving" this content in your corporate system Egnyte offers an excellent mix of old with new.

To learn more about how the new can work with the old speak to us at Cloud Solutions. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Transferring your Circles in Google Plus from Gmail to Google Apps

We recently migrated a small company to Google Apps however the business owner had spent hours setting up his Circles and Connections in Google Plus, these were all connected to his personal Gmail account. It is quite a simple exercise to import the addressbook or contacts in Gmail to Google Apps however the Circles do not simply follow the contacts.

However Google have this function available under their Takeout tools, simply scroll down the list until you locate Google+ Circles. This option will allow you to move Circles between accounts.


Once you select the option you are presented with a FROM and a TO screen. You login to say your Gmail account then into your new Google Apps account, then press GO!  It is that simple.

Transfer Circles from Gmail to Google Apps
You should note to read all the information before proceeding. This provides details about what will happen. Double check you have got the transfer correct, from example, from Old to New. But saying that, nothing happens for 7 days and then the process starts. If you need to reconsider this you have time to change your mind. You can visit your source or the From Google+ account and select Cancel Transfer which visible once you scroll to the bottom of the page.

To learn more about Circle transfers you can visit this Google support page. You can only do this process once every 6 months so get it right.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Cheap Long Distance Calling via VoIP and Cloud PBX

The price of calling around the world continues to drop. We are now offering SIP based calls at around US$0.02c per minute. Virtual numbers and SIP trunks can be connected to your mobile phone (iphone or Android) via free SIP Software.

We recommend CSIPSimple for Android and for iPhone the 3CX SIP client works well. For Windows desktop download X-Lite and use. For desk phones (which are the best option for the business user) select from quality IP phones from Polycom, Snom and Yealink.

To benefit from VoIP the most, connection up to an IP PBX offering full VoIP features.

Cloud PBX is a service that offers all the great features you need from your telephone system yet it only costs a few dollars each month!

Small Business Cloud Hosted VoIP PBX Includes:

  • Up to 10 extensions, 4 SIP trunks and 5 concurrent calls
  • Voicemail per extension
  • Voice messages sent to user's email
  • Conference or meeting room up tp 5 people
  • Ring Groups and Call Pickup
  • Music on hold
  • Call Transfers
  • Global and user quick dial directory
  • Global access to your IP-PBX system

Migrating Legacy MS Access to the Cloud

This is a quick way of creating a web-based collaborative database app from your non-collaborative Microsoft Access DB. Once the Microsoft Access DB is migrated to Zoho Creator, the collaborative aspects kick in where the entire application (or parts of it) can be shared with multiple users.” Whole process involves 3 steps approach:

  1. Import MS Access database to Zoho creator.
  2. Automatic creation of web apps from imported MS Access database.
  3. Quick share of applications with other users.