Was Ma Bell the First Cloud Provider? - Business Phones & Office Phone Systems St. Louis, MO | Metropark Communications Inc.

Was Ma Bell the First Cloud Provider?

May 8, 2014
By Glenn Conley


Was Ma Bell the First Cloud Provider?

In the early days of telecommunications all of our phone lines came from Ma Bell.  I contend that Ma was
actually the first Cloud provider.  She would have a nice telephone guy come out to our business to install some “lines”, we could pick up the single line phone, and Voila magic dial tone would come from the Ma Cloud.  These Centrex or Plexar lines became less popular over time, since they were not feature rich and the costs of PBXs became cheaper than the monthly cost of Ma Bell’s cloud Centrex lines.

Over time Ma Bell retired and many of her babies grew up to provide all types of services.  I’m sure Ma is very proud, but business people are stuck in a confounded position of keeping the control and power of a PBX in place verses the monthly Centrex like services known today as Hosted PBX. 

Hosted vs. Owned

With a central cloud voice server, multiple offices and branch locations can quickly and inexpensively be added to the enterprise.  Hosted PBX does this naturally, but an owned PBX may require additional hardware and complexity to accommodate multisite.

Mobile workers are more pervasive in today’s work force, and having a central cloud voice server waiting to quickly register all types of smartphones, tablets, and laptops to the voice network is becoming the norm.  Traditional PBXs have a hard time working with mobile workers but can emulate a central cloud voice server by adding complex hardware and/or moving to a co-location facility (CoLo).

Some PBX features are available on hosted PBX systems, but just like the early days of Ma Bell’s Centrex lines, the features are rather limited.  New,  elegant, and color SIP phones can be very helpful in adding features to a Hosted PBX solution, but if a business is needing full PBX functionality the recommended path would be to invest in a feature rich PBX.  Some businesses can choose to make their own PBX act like a hosted PBX by partnering with an Interconnect company who also offers CoLo/Cloud facilities.  This will provide the best of both worlds.  A business owns the PBX solution, but it is operated as a central voice server from a cloud environment.  Multisite and mobile workers can attach quickly to the voice network and retain the full functionality as desired. 

As today’s business decision makers review the mountain of cloud or no-cloud telecommunications options, certainly a hybrid approach should be considered.

  • Hosted PBX – Lower cost of entry, great for multisite and mobile workers, limited local equipment required, but no ROI and has limited features.
  • Owned PBX – Higher cost of entry especially for multisite, local equipment needs with full feature sets and a true Return on Investment.
  • CoLo PBX – Higher cost of entry but designed especially for multisite and mobile workers with the full range of PBX features and a true Return on Investment.

Hosted PBXs and CoLo PBXs both enjoy datacenter protections like power generator redundancies, cooled environments, and ultra-security, however, owning and housing your own PBX may in fact be less expensive over all.   Ma is ringing the dinner bell… what will it be?

Glenn Conley 
Metropark Communications, Inc.