From the Desk of the CEO: The Year in Review
December 30th, 2014
Well this is it, the last few days of 2014 are at hand and we here at VirtualPBX are thrilled with how the year has passed. Not only have our customers contributed to a stellar year of growth for us as a business, we have grown our team to a new height to accommodate all of our new functions, as well. We’ve been happy to welcome in so many new faces from across the world to across the hallway, and before we look forward to what’s next, I think it’s good to remember how we got here today.
Your Feedback, Your Features
We pride ourselves on service and part of that is listening to what many of you have mentioned would be helpful to you in your daily work. In response to your desire for even more control over your business communications universe from the ease of your vConsoles, we introduced one-click Dropbox integration for all of your recorded call storage needs.
Peace of Mind
Also, we’ve been proud to help many new companies protect themselves from the uncertain with our award-winning PBX Parachute, a service that mirrors on-site phone systems and deploys virtual reproductions of them in the event of a system failure.
Because VoIP is the foundation of all of our products, though, improving the quality of service for all hosted telecom users is of paramount importance to us. With the battery of thorough analysis that comes with our weeklong ProSIP Network Health Check, we are sure to be able to continue offering the most complete business telephone solutions possible.
However, our current state is only as good as our commitment to the future. Therefore, insofar as progress and growth are concerned, our greatest advances may not be immediately evident to you, our valued customers. We have been hard at work developing some really exciting and disruptive technology that we’re thrilled to begin rolling out in the coming year.
We are excited with where we are going and proud of where we have been. I hope during this time of year you too can all look back with similar pride and enthusiasm for what is coming next at your company, knowing that we’ve got your communications needs covered no matter what direction you’re heading.
Thank you for another great year and I hope you all enjoy a safe and wonderful New Year’s celebration.
Infographic – PBX Parachute
December 9th, 2014
Business Continuity Planning, Disaster Recovery, Automatic Business Failover; these phrases can all begin to sound pretty scary when you think about how important they can be to the life of your company. But even the scariest, darkest paths are easily navigated when you use the right tools. Let PBX Parachute be the torch to shine your way down the road of planning for the future. You’ll find though this simple infographic that PBX Parachute functions as a lifeline to both your coworkers and your customers so you can stay connected no matter what happens.
Your Business Twin – Be in Two Places at Once
November 24th, 2014
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be in two places at once? If you have children or run a business (which can be strikingly similar) then you probably have considered it plenty of times. For those of you with both the title of parent and employer, perhaps two places at once still isn’t enough!
Even when things are going smoothly, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete everything that requires your attention. There are a host of services out there to help keep you organized, and we even outlined a few ways people can use technology to work around their schedules recently., All of these tactics help get us through the day-to-day grind., but what happens when the train leaves the tracks and you can’t share your attention anymore?
If your company has a Business Continuity Plan you’re probably perfectly aware of what happens next, because you’ve invested the time to plan for any contingency. What may not be included in that plan, however, is where exactly your energy will be required to help your organization get out of a jam quickly, safely, and without losing any of the momentum that it has worked so hard to build up.
But if you’re there, who’s answering your phone?
PBX Parachute is your doppelgänger, your twin, your surrogate for all of the business calls you would normally be handling while you’re off saving the day. The award-winning automatic business telephone failover system can let you stay focused on the critical tasks of navigating a disaster or disruption in service by-
- Duplicating your on-site phone system, keeping extensions and voicemail lines active
- Forwarding each extensions calls to up to four different devices
- Speaking for you, literally, by launching a pre-recorded emergency hotline for your employees
We have all tried to juggle too many things at once, sometimes it works out and sometimes things fall to the ground. Don’t take that chance during a period of emergency when your company needs you the most. PBX Parachute can’t duplicate you so you can be in two places at once, but it can allow you to be in the one place that really matters in an emergency, which is the next best thing.
Get in touch with one of the expert VirtualPBX business consultants today to see how you can multiply yourself in an emergency.
Pennywise and Pound Foolish
November 18th, 2014
You may have heard this one before. It makes sense, though, we shouldn’t sacrifice our long-term opportunities at the expense of saving a few extra bucks here or there on things that we ultimately need to invest in.
Sometimes doing this means shelling-out for that killer software or computer that is outside of your typical onboarding package to make sure your new hire can help elevate your game. Or, maybe you’re just starting out and you are putting some of your salary dollars right back into your business. No matter what the case may be, the simple fact is that there will always be expenses that will come back as revenue even if it’s not as soon as we may prefer. Sometimes, though, our investments are immediately calculable.
Just like switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle will result in immediately realized gains at the gas pump, and retrofitting facilities with water-saving devices or LED lighting will positively impact utility bills, there will always be opportunities to gain from an appropriate amount of prudent investment.
Enlisting the service of an off-site telephone failover system like PBX Parachute allows you to mirror your existing system as we discussed recently. What you may not have known, however, is how you can realize gains from employing PBX Parachute even without a system failure or emergency.
There comes a point for every business where you can no longer divert valuable time and energy into certain tasks, and so finding economical ways to outsource them becomes paramount. Kara Taylor, VP of IS at Qualstar Credit Union in Redmond, Washington, was in such a position when her company of about 100 employees enlisted PBX Parachute to cover their nearly 100,000 inbound calls a month. Her savings were immediately realized. “The solution allowed us to greatly reduce our communications disaster recovery time from potentially hours to less than minutes and in so doing, virtually removed IS from managing another system in a recovery situation.”
You can read the entire case study from Qualstar and learn more about PBX Parachute from one of our experts in San Jose, but one thing you can’t do, however, is let your Information Security team off of the hook without PBX Parachute.
This is a Test, This is Only a Test
November 11th, 2014
Should this have been a real emergency we probably wouldn’t be sitting around chatting, would we? We all recognize this phrase, and for some of us, it may not represent much more than a slight nuisance during our favorite TV or radio programs. The truth is that these periodic tests of the Emergency Alert System (formerly the Emergency Broadcast System) are designed to maintain a nationwide communications network should there ever be the need for delivering critical messages on a massive scale. While that’s a rather bleak notion, it’s also emblematic of something that is equally critical for businesses to consider implementing.
In a recent blog, we stressed the importance of designing, testing, and adopting a Business Continuity Plan and many of our subscribers have since begun that process. That’s a fantastic way to keep your doors open for business during an emergency. Furthermore, it prevents customers and prospects from guessing whether or not you are available or, worse yet, moving on to a competitor. It’s great that you can set your business up for success under any circumstance, but what about the wellbeing of your employees? How do you address their needs if their safety is in question? PBX Parachute can provide access to messages for your workforce in addition to keeping the lines of communication open to the public.
With a few very simple steps, you can prerecord any type of general emergency instructions for your employees and program them to be available on a special hotline as soon as the automatic failover system springs into action. That hotline number can be shared with your employees beforehand but it becomes available when the failover system is activated, thus eliminating the possibility for false alarms. And seeing as how PBX Parachute replicates your primary phone system and can also forward calls to extensions, your employees can both access the emergency hotline and get their inbound calls from a remote location away from any danger. Furthermore, from the convenience of your vConsole, you can also record situation-specific instructions and update the message in real time, making sure your team always has the most important and time-critical information right when they need it.
You’ve put too much into developing your team to put them in harm’s way. Get in touch with our business continuity experts to see how PBX Parachute can help you protect your most important investment- your employees. PBX Parachute helps you do that, test pattern not required.
We’ve Got your Back – VirtualPBX Business Phone Protection
November 7th, 2014
You know that one person in your circle of friends who everyone can always rely on? You know, the gal who will always be there to help you move, the guy who never hesitates to be designated driver, the person who is just rock-solid reliable? The point is that we have occasion to encounter people along the way that can always be trusted to be there in the clutch. Heck, maybe you’re that person, even. If so, you’d know how great it feels to lend a helping hand. We do, too.
While we can’t exactly commit to helping you move, and seeing as how we keep thousands of telephone numbers up and running 24 hours a day, we might not be the best option to hitch a ride in the middle of the night. However, we are there for you whenever you have an emergency at work.
If you subscribe to any of our Office or Anywhere Plans, you always have the peace of mind knowing that your business lines will be up and running no matter what unfolds. Weather, political, social, animal, vegetable or mineral- no matter what type of emergency comes knocking to your doorstep, your customers will never know the difference unless you want them to. That’s right, with a cloud-based telephone service from VirtualPBX, whenever disaster strikes, your telephone service continues as if nothing has happened and customers are sent to voicemail, or you can quickly change the inbound greeting to reflect any special instructions or updates should you require them. All of this can be managed in real time and wherever you can get online to your vConsole, your complete VirtualPBX phone system control panel. Through the vConsle you can also make lightening-fast changes to call routing by diverting traffic instantly to your cellphone or softphone. This intuitive platform can also be programed to intelligently cascade down a list of phones as you provide them, ex- desk phone, soft phone, mobile, etc.
Don’t have VirtualPBX telephone service yet? No problem, we’ve got you covered, too. With PBX Parachute, you can benefit from all of the same security and peace of mind as our complete phone service subscribers. Very much in the same way as we do with our Office and Anywhere Plans, with PBX Parachute we replicate your entire phone system so that, should you get hit with a system-downing emergency at your facility, PBX Parachute will deploy instantly after your primary system goes down. Also, you can prepare custom messages for inbound callers and information hotlines for your employees. This way you can immediately share critical information to the people who matter to you most, as soon as it is necessary.
No matter where you are or how you get your business phone service, VirtualPBX can be your wingman, your knight in shining armor, your go-to. What can we say? It just feels good knowing that people can rely on us. Reach out to one of our VoIP experts and see how we can help your business stay in the game, no matter what.
Business Continuity Plan – Make the Weather Less Frightful
November 5th, 2014
It seems premature to be talking about holiday music just a few days removed from Halloween, but this isn’t about Black Friday or eggnog, don’t worry. Instead, we’d like to focus on the fact that severe weather really can be frightful and, with the recent fall back into Daylight Savings Time, the worst of it is also right around the corner.
An excerpt from Fox News’ coverage of the recently-released UN report on climate change stated, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has answered the most important question on global warming — whether humans are causing it — with 95 percent certainty: Yes.”
Regardless of your position on the matter, however, one thing about weather is irrefutable- when Mother Nature shows us her less-than-gentle side, nothing can stand in her way. So where does that leave your business? If you were like the 7.9 million homes and businesses without power following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, your business would have ground to a stop until the utilities had been reinstated. The risk of an indefinite cessation of operations is something businesses can’t afford to be exposed to. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare and protect your business from these and other types of emergencies.
Obviously, having proper insurance coverage is critical for any organization, but that only helps to repair after an emergency has taken place. To keep your business up and running, it’s best to have a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place. This simple exercise is unfortunately one that too many people overlook until it’s too late, but there are plenty of easy-to-follow guides on how to implement a BCP available online.
Several areas identified in every BCP guide as critical for consideration in a comprehensive strategy can be addressed with a single tool. Having an off-sight business telephone failover system in place automatically creates:
- A hotline for your employees to receive potentially life-saving information
- A mirror of your entire telephone system so inbound calls remain completely unaffected, or
- Should you prefer, an automated message to all inbound callers indicating extenuating circumstances and whatever service delay notifications you should choose to include
These types of reassurances and more are available with the right platform. PBX Parachute is the award-winning business telephone failover system from VirtualPBX that puts to rest any concerns over whether or not you can reach your employees, or if your customers can reach you. Contact one of the VirtualPBX Business Failover Experts today to see how this service can be a part of your BCP and begin weatherproofing your business right away.
#1 Secret to Keeping Your Business Up and Running During Inclement Weather
March 5th, 2014
Whether it’s a snowstorm, hurricane, or other natural disaster, businesses often suffer due to the amount of downtime that is associated with inclement weather. Whether it’s a day or an entire week that your business is without power, your bottom line can be affected significantly when you don’t have access to clients, customers, employees, or vendors. The key to keeping your business up and running during a bout of inclement weather is a disaster recovery service.
2014 experienced one of the worst winters in history. According to a recent article by International Business Times, Chicago has been hit with 67.9 inches of snow thus far, earning the city the 5th snowiest winter since 1884. Boston has seen 53.5 inches of snow so far this winter, well above their usual average. As prepared as these cities were, businesses still experienced a large amount of power outages. The South was significantly less prepared for such large amounts of snow, along with icy conditions and the “Polar Vortex” broke various records. South Carolina’s mayor compared the recent ice storm devastation to that of a hurricane. The storm left a whopping 350,000 people without power at its peak, according to an article by TheState.com.
What is PBX Parachute?
PBX Parachute is a remote backup phone system that acts as a standby PBX to include instant, automatic failover. It can mirror your primary phone system settings and take over if your VoIP business phone fails in the event of a disaster. Incoming calls can be automatically redirected to the PBX Parachute service and then sent to pre-determined alternate locations. You get to choose the location, whether it’s a softphone, a branch office, or a home phone. Callers will never know there was a problem with your usual phone system, as calls remain unaffected and business can resume as usual.
Just as a parachute would, PBX Parachute waits until it’s called upon. And when you need it, you don’t have to worry about moving data, running software, or booting hardware – it’s that easy.
Such disasters, whether it’s a snow storm or hurricane, can have large consequences for businesses and gravely affect bottom lines. Keep your business up and running with a disaster recovery service.
Incorporating Hosted VoIP in Your Emergency Kit
August 22nd, 2013
Business owners often consider hosted VoIP to reduce costs, without considering the benefits for keeping their business connected during a disaster. Currently North American businesses collectively lose more than $26.5 billion in revenue each year due to IT downtime, significant capital that can be saved simply by being properly prepared when disaster strikes. Don’t let the next natural disaster catch you off guard. Find out why you should make hosted VoIP a priority in your disaster recovery plan.
If you use traditional landline phones in your business and the phone system fails, you could lose a lot – including money, productivity and even customer goodwill. Business owners will discover huge benefits in investing in a hosted PBX phone system. The system is referred to as hosted because the hardware and other infrastructure used to operate the system are housed off-site and accessed over the Internet. That way, if your office gets flooded or you run into a power outage or the next Hurricane Sandy hits, your communication system will still be intact and running. Hosted PBX phone systems allow advanced call routing, so if your office equipment is ever damaged, calls can be forwarded to your mobile phone or another landline with virtually no lapse in business continuity.
Additionally, with softphone apps, you can maintain connectivity even when you don’t have access to your handsets. Employees can reconnect by using smartphones, laptops or tablets, as long as there is an Internet connection. Hosted VoIP systems allow you to stay connected during periods of evacuation or even during the aftermath of the disaster, when conditions prevent employees from coming into the office.
You can have peace of mind knowing that in the event of a service interruption, you can keep in touch with your customers, and your business can continue running smoothly. Hosted VoIP provides a fast and easy way to take control of a disastrous situation.
When Disaster Strikes: Using Hosted VoIP Services to Keep Communications Operating
March 19th, 2013
When disaster strikes, communications are often disrupted, adding to the confusion and chaos. Small businesses that lack a recovery plan often find themselves cut off from their customers and their networks. In these drastic situations, opening lines of communication is critical – to ensure all employees are accounted for, emergency services are notified and customers are made aware of the issues facing the business. Since in-house, legacy phone networks often go down with power outages, small businesses that depend on hosted VoIP as part of their disaster recovery plans consistently restore communications quickly from disasters that cripple their communication infrastructure.
Hosted phone services provide several benefits that small businesses may find invaluable when developing a disaster recovery plan.
As the name suggests, hosted VoIP relies on offsite infrastructure to maintain communications assets. This means limiting onsite equipment to the handsets that are used to make the calls, preventing big, bulky, complicated servers from being threatened by natural disasters and allowing for flexibility in crisis communications. Since the technology requires minimum infrastructure investment, businesses that utilize hosted VoIP will also have an easier time replacing any damaged or destroyed equipment.
With modern softphone apps, connections can be restored even when the handsets are not available. Employees can reconnect outside of the disaster zone using smartphones, laptops or tablets with an Internet connection. By untethering users from their desks, hosted VoIP systems allow sustained communications during periods of evacuation or even when hazardous situations prevent employees from coming into the office.
Today’s VoIP providers also have extensive support networks, allowing quick response times to any outages and other technical issues that their clients may have. Their always-on hosted services allow instantaneous shifts from the office phone networks to mobile devices, ensuring that even power outages cannot completely disrupt workflow.
Hosted VoIP solutions allow for flexibility and portability when it comes to crisis communications. By separating communications from physical locations, hosted VoIP phone systems have become an invaluable part of any comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity plan.