Hosted VoIP or Hosted PBX?

What is the difference? I hear these terms used interchangeably almost every day but are they the same? Let’s look at definitions.


What is VoIP?


VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol” and refers to sending communications across an IP-based network vs. the traditional proprietary voice network of yester-year. Starting in the early 2000’s, technology enabled voice traffic to run on these existing data networks eliminating the need for different cabling, separate protocols, proprietary equipment, etc.


What is PBX?

PBX stands for “private branch exchange.” In the old days, when the Bell System had a monopoly on telecommunications, the calls were “exchanged” by these large PBX systems sitting in non-discrete brick buildings. Later, as the capabilities moved on-premise, especially in large businesses, where 100’s of phones needed to be routed locally.


What about the term “hosted”?


This term, when thrown in front of either of these terms, means that customers are getting these services from the cloud vs. having their own on-premise. So, hosted VoIP vs. hosted PBX – the same or different? We will pick this up tomorrow.



Making your business communication system an asset is what Soteria is all about: You Connecting to the world of business. Soteria is proud to introduce our new site for all-things cloud PBX –  What will you find on the site? Explore.


Ask for a free trial or quote today. Or, if you would like to discuss Soteria’s portfolio of uConnect offerings, please schedule a time to connect! (Click HERE)



The Net Neutrality Debate – Part 1

Have you heard about the latest proposals from the FCC on “net neutrality?” Do you care? If you don’t, you should.


The concept of net neutrality sounds very noble and, in some aspects, it is. The concept, coined by Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, states that:


“Network neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. This allows the network to carry every form of information and support every kind of application. The principle suggests that information networks are often more valuable when they are less specialized — when they are a platform for multiple uses, present and future.”


An example of this idea is like the electrical grid. It is less specialized. You can plug anything in that needs electricity and it will work any pace, any time, anywhere. There is power in being less specialized.


However, as politicians have a tendency to do, they tend to never aim for true north. There is always some declination that causes them to veer off-course. The issues here is classifying broadband as a utility. Think again of an electrical utility, while less specialized, it is highly regulated; specifically, the government sets pricing and imposes taxes.


This is what people in the tech world fear. Changing the classification of broadband internet from a high speed information service to a telecommunications service opens Pandora’s Box. Take a look at your cell phone bill and count the taxes you pay.


How can you have something “open and free” when it is regulated?



Making your business communication system an asset is what Soteria is all about: You Connecting to the world of business. Soteria is proud to introduce our new site for all-things cloud PBX – What will you find on the site? Explore.


Ask for a free trial or quote today. Or, if you would like to discuss Soteria’s portfolio of uConnect offerings, please schedule a time to connect! (Click HERE)



uConnect – How Are You “Operating”?


At the advent of the telephone, connecting two parties was a manual process. A wire would run from each home to a central office, and when a party wanted to talk to another, the Operators would “make a connection.”


Later, machines would take over this function, replacing rooms of operators with rooms of machines. Eventually, even homes and businesses had their own systems on-premise to handle multiple lines and other functions like voice-mail, conferencing, etc.


Today, with the advent of cloud-based telephony, making connections has never been simpler, more powerful or more cost-effective. Businesses now have the capability to make connections with customers, prospects and vendors and look like a Fortune 50 company doing it (AND without the cost!)


One of the projects Soteria engaged in in 2014 was talking a spin-off from a Fortune 100 company and helping them quickly and efficiently move small offices and remote users to a cloud-hosted PBX system. Set-up and provisioned with enterprise-quality features in a matter of days – all with low, per-user, per month pricing and no contract.


No Operators, no equipment, just connection!


If you would like to discuss Soteria’s portfolio of uConnect offering, please schedule a time to connect!

(click HERE)



Axcient – Cloud Continuity



Having been involved with many disaster recovery and business continuity projects one things was always clear: complexity.  Not that the complexity was clear, far from it, but that the reality that any DR/BC solution includes many moving parts: servers, storage, software and automation, network, and skills and services to implement and operate in case of a disaster.  We may need to find another word as complex may not be complex enough.


Enter Axcient.  As one of the fastest growing cloud companies in the Silicon Valley, Axcient has taken the complex and made it simple.  With three levels of protection they offer the most comprehensive and reliable solution in the industry.  It is accomplished in six easy steps.









We would welcome the opportunity to send you more information about the solution.  CLICK HERE and we will send you more information on the topics of:

  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Business Vulnerability Assessment


Contact us today and let us take the complexity out of your business continuity plan!



Veeam – Managing Your Virtual Investment

At Soteria, we have found one virtualization product to stand-out heads above the competition – Veeam.  Built for virtualization environments, Veeam takes the complexity out of managing virtual environments.  With over 73,000 customers and over 4,000,000 virtual machines under management … they are doing something right!

Read more about their amazing product, including the ability to download a free version or full trial.  Contact us if you want to talk about including Veeam as part of your management portfolio.


Veeam Backup & Replication

Modern Data Protection – Built for Virtualization and the Cloud

Veeam® Backup & Replication™ is Modern Data Protection – Built for Virtualization™ and the Cloud. It delivers powerful, easy-to-use and affordable data protection for VMware and Hyper-V. Industry-leading features enable organizations of all sizes to meet their recovery objectives (RTOs and RPOs), save time and eliminate risk. Veeam Backup & Replication provides the most comprehensive protection for virtual infrastructures and is packaged to deliver the greatest return on investment (ROI) and significant reductions in total cost of ownership (TCO).

Learn more about Veeam Backup & Replication.


Veeam Backup & Replication Cloud Edition

#1 VM Backup™ is now cloud ready

Veeam® Backup & Replication™ Cloud Edition helps guard against catastrophic data loss by making it easy to copy your VMware and Hyper-V backups to the cloud with any of over 15 leading public storage clouds and open cloud storage platforms. And with an annual subscription model, you can avoid high up-front costs.

Learn more about Veeam Backup & Replication Cloud Edition.


Veeam Backup Essentials

Affordable backup for small businesses

Even organizations with a few hosts need reliable data protection. Veeam® Backup Essentials™ delivers all the powerful and easy-to-use features and benefits of Veeam Backup & Replication™ in a very affordable solution for small businesses. Especially packaged and priced to offer significant savings, Veeam Backup Essentials meets the needs of IT administrators supporting businesses with fewer than 200 employees and virtual environments with 2, 4 or 6 sockets.

Learn more about Veeam Backup Essentials.


Veeam Backup Management Suite

Visibility, scalability and control

Veeam® Backup Management Suite™ delivers data protection with advanced capabilities for VMware and Hyper-V environments of all sizes. In addition to all the features of Veeam Backup & Replication™, Veeam Backup Management Suite provides complete visibility of the backup infrastructures, advanced monitoring of backup jobs and resources, and at-a-glance reporting and detailed documentation of backup status, performance, availability, utilization and more.

Learn more about Veeam Backup Management Suite.

Meraki – Cloud Managed Networks

Leveraging cloud-based solutions is great … if you can get to the cloud.  And once there, understand how to protect, manage and shape that web-based traffic is critical.


At Soteria, we have standardized on one product – Cisco Meraki.  This product line was developed by a group of PhD students at MIT specifically for the cloud and it delivers.  Watch the Meraki story here.


Meraki is a great success story and their success can be your as well.  Equipped with free evaluation gear, free wireless product and a world-class on-line demo, Soteria can be your partner to a better, more secure and manageable network.  To review your options, visit this website and then contact Soteria for how you can take advantage of these great offers.



Meraki Offers
Meraki Offers



Contact us today for more information.


ATA Device Ports On Hosted VoIP Solution

Want to implement a Hosted VoIP Solution but need to integrate existing applications/adjuncts currently connected to analog station ports from a legacy PBX?  Well you can with an ATA device as going with hosted VoIP does not necessarily require you to toss out prior investments in self-service IVRs, VRUs, workforce

management, image/fax and even voice-mail solutions.   As companies weigh the cost of owning a tradition PBX solution vrs migrating to a browser based VoIP solution, there is an opportunity to breathe new life into older technology that helped to differentiate good customer service.  Imagine adding new voice mail-to-email options to a 10 year old IVR application, or including remote agents by way of a mobile device or soft-phone.


The reality is, hosted VoIP is here to stay.  Its ability to level the playing field for small- to mid-sized companies with powerful enterprise capabilities is going to change the competitive landscape.  Larger companies no longer hold the advantage on telephony capabilities as smaller competitors are able to offer the same self-service and follow-the-sun solutions and without the racks of servers and cubicles of technicians.


Although today hosted VoIP cannot match feature-for-feature, the scope and scale of an on premise enterprise solution (yet), there are several solutions and workarounds that will close the features gap as hosted VoIP continues to evolve.  When these features do arrive, notification will be via an email and new menu selections in your management portal vs. a scheduled weekend cut with the associated on-going maintenance costs.


ATA’s in Hosted VoIP Migrations


After being in the Lucent/Avaya and Cisco Telecom space for over 17 years, I can’t tell you how powerful the story of Add/Move/Change support has become with hosted VoIP vs. legacy PBX administration.  Which brings me to my discussion on the power of introducing the port adapter device (or ATA) as the MacGyver to a successful Hosted VoIP Solution.


Many of my customers need to keep in place analog connectivity when migrating to a hosted VoIP solution to accommodate cordless phones, fax machines, scanning/imaging systems, lobby phones, or paging systems… all items that an ATA device can address and do a great job to carry over into a hosted VoIP.


This post is not about those items but rather how to leverage the ATA for a much larger feature gap which is connectivity to enterprise systems where call volumes are extensive and reintegration is essential.  I had one particular customer who had to reconnect their existing 8 port IVR/VRU servers; a custom-built solution which provides subscriber benefit and enrollment status information for over 8,000+ end users and with over 70,000 per month minutes of self-service (about 9 minutes per user, per month). My end customer calculated they would have to hire a minimum of 10 new call center agents if their IVR solution was removed or was down for more than a month. So the only option was to figure out how to reconnect their IVR Solution with the hosted VoIP solution.   To do so, I opted to go with 4 dual port Cisco SPA112 Phone Adapters.


Working with legacy IVR/VRU systems can be tricky but with a few key steps, you will be successful and not run out of time during your on-site scope.  Here are the steps I’ll be covering: prepping the hosted VoIP solution, configuring the ATA devices, testing and adjusting the existing IVR scripts, turning over to call center management for final testing and feedback.


Prepping the Hosted VoIP Solution

My first task involves setting up my extensions, building an auto attendant, and placing all 8 (showing only 7 in my screen captures) extensions into a Hunt Group on the Hosted VoIP system.  Once each ext is labeled, assigned a 3/4/5/6 digit extension and permanently logged-in as an available agent (I won’t need to manually log-in and out for lunch breaks or even after hours as I can control access to the resources through business and after-hours with the auto-attendant)… it’s go time!

Note: It’s nice to work with automated ports as they don’t take smoke breaks or need lunch but keep in mind, if this is a production system you are setting these resources up on, be mindful of conducting after-hours as you may need to add/remove settings from a production area.  The usual way apply when dealing with a phone system as everyone expects and forgets about the internet going down, while everyone remembers when the phones go out.




Configuring the ATA Devices
My next step is to configure my Cisco SPA112 2-Port Phone Adapters, which allows up to two lines to be handled with one device.  For larger deployments, I would recommend going with one of Cisco’s VG Analog Gateways which offer high-density options for up to 160 analog ports (I’m looking forward to a future blog post which focuses on some of the more advanced features you can introduce with Cisco’s IOS Software).  But for the majority of smaller to medium sized sites, 8 – 24 ports is nicely served with the Cisco SPA devices currently available.  Configuring the SPAs is quick and easy once you obtain the IP address, which can be had with any analog phone (even that old ESPN Football phone from the 80′s will do) as you can dial into the device and receive a clear text to speech read back of the IP address for plugging into your browser.  Once in, you can access the configuration screens which I’ve gone ahead and attached below.  Since you’ve already built your extensions in the prior step, you simply need to assign each line with its specific name on the ATA.  Down the road, you may need to configure some additional screens on each of the devices so I would suggest a good spreadsheet to keep everything neat and orderly as you build out your solution.  Note: each phone line can be configured independently and it’s a good idea to have a labeler ready to notate each device and label each line out (as associated with the exts assigned).




Testing and Adjusting the Existing IVR Scripts
Now for the fun part and to see if you have a basic grasp of how call flows, exts and auto-attendants work.  Assuming you have un-plugged your legacy adjunct analog line ports whether they be from an IVR, VRU, Voice mail, Fax Server, or anything with an analog adapter, you are now ready to swing over these system port(s) to your new ATA ports.  Note: keep a look out for dual line ports on your cards, if you are plugging directly from an ATA, you are only going to get a single line in.. two line splitters and multi-line cables is a sure bet and you may even be able to reuse them if they were jacked into wall boxes.  Otherwise, you will need to recreate the 2 line into the server(s) analog card(s) (Brooktrout, Dialogic, etc.), but I would suggest ordering or having them locally built by a cable maker.  Note: see image attached below of the ones I ordered as this makes a much cleaner solution and just looks professional. Once you are all hooked up, begin test calling into your auto-attendants and/or hunt groups (which I will have a future blog post on) and even direct dial each IVR Ext just to ensure every line is working as depending on how you setup your hunt groups, you may or may not be able to hit every IVR port depending on how you assigned round-robin, most idle agent, etc.  Pull out that ESPN Analog Football phone again and manually test ring off the back of every ATA line port to be even more anal!

Turning Over to Call Center Management for Final Testing and Feedback
After you hit your adjunct ports, you are just about there as now you need to do some menu select prompt testing to ensure things are working and you have compatibly with the new ATA’s.  You may need to edit the exiting adjunct scripts to make them compatible with your ATA devices as every system will be different and depending on what your legacy phone system was: Avaya, Nortel, Aspect, NEC, etc., you can sure bet they all have specific timeouts and PBX commands for the simplest of commands, such as off-hook and transfer, etc.



But this is the fun part and this is where you complete the journey specific to your endeavor or call Soteria, LLC. as we are ready to help.

Ready to try something new?  Bring your phone system out of the closet and experience the freedom.  Contact Soteria today!

*  FREE CloudConnect hosted PBX evaluation

*  30-day FREE hosted PBX trial

*  FREE 2-page comparison of hosted vs on-premise offerings


Click HERE to make your request for one or more of our FREE offers!


See how we can change the way you look at communications!


Cloud Managed Network with Meraki

Cloud vs. On-Premise

Cloud-managed networking vs. an on-premise network management is the difference between proactive vs. reactive when it comes to ensuring the availability of a hosted cloud solution.  Taking systems management from an on-premise console to a web-based browser gives several advantages to companies that want to ensure availability of their cloud applications while allowing their cloud providers to troubleshoot and measure availability of their applications.  The web-based browser is as important as ever as enterprises move in-house solutions to the cloud; giving networking capability and viability an even higher priority.

As far back as ten years ago, “convergence” was about data and voice combining together on the same network and today we’ve seen that transition become a reality.  Now we are seeing the convergence of data applications that carry with them embedded voice, storage, social, and mobile features and functionality.  Without a cloud-managed network – proactively monitoring, measuring and prioritizing a hosted application – you are setting yourself up for failure.

Customer Experience

On a recent customer installation, we saw the value of a Meraki cloud-managed network.   The client was deployed with a cable broadband solution with a contracted download speed of 80.00 Mbps and an upload speed of 36.00 Mbps.  Reading through most standard broadband contracts, you are not guaranteed the delivery of those speeds are they are often dependent on several factors: quality of coax to-and-from the demarcation point(s), networking equipment and structured cabling.   Cable provider service have other contributing factors as it is a shared service (varying number of users on a local loop), the geographical area  and the time of day.

Utilizing Meraki’s reporting capabilities, we were able to see the peaks and valleys of the client’s broadband  with speeds of 30.00 Mbps down and 12.00 Mbps up.  These Meraki reports, with graphs and associated data, allowed us to analyze the cloud-managed network (facts are difficult to argue) and provide this information to the broadband carrier’s support desk.  Upon dispatching an on-site technician, it led to the discovery of a faulty trap.  (The result of an older, non-scrambled system in which the cable provider installed these trap(s) to remove signals the client was not paying for.  As a result of this trap, the broadband signal between the CO and demarcation point was significantly truncated by this out-of-date trap and, once removed, the speeds more than doubled.


One issue solved but there will be more in the future as Meraki will continue to alert Soteria and the client to future trends, should the quality of service degrade over time.  Moreover, Soteria will also be provisioning a redundant broadband connection to ensure dual paths for business continuity and proactive management to the network.




Soteria LLC. (a Meraki Business Partner) builds wireless and wired cloud-managed networks as well as providing network acceleration and security capabilities.  We deploy solutions that allows remote management through web portal control to centrally manage an enterprise network with immediate and full control over applications, devices, policies and all users.  The alternative: dispatching an on-site technician or a high hourly-rate technical resources with specific certifications in router, layer 3 switching, firewall and general security.  As well, upgrades, patching or firmware efforts are moved to the cloud and receive 24/7 managed update and scheduled control; meaning, customers no longer have controller hardware or management software to install and maintain.

So what does this really mean for our customers?  In our opinion, the power of cloud-managed networking is the ability to leave maintenance, secure system access and device integration to the cloud, while allowing enterprise IT professionals to focus on the areas which optimize their organization’s access to cloud hosted solutions.  With the additional time, administrators can ensure that content shaping, protocol priority, firewall rules and content management is fully optimized and continuously managed and measured to ensure the most optimal environment.  Call Soteria, LLC. as we are ready to help.


Good Luck!