The good the bad and the ugly. Ok, so maybe not that extreme, but do not be confused or starry-eyed when considering a hosted call recording solution over an on-premise recorder.
As VoIP technology continues to develop, it is becoming the go-to phone solution for many small- to medium-sized businesses. Implementation costs are going down and set-up is getting quicker and easier. Hosted call recording is included by many VoIP providers for a small service fee, but do not assume apples to apples when comparing to an on-premise call recording solution.
Let’s break down the differences between the two in terms of security, features, storage, changing phone providers, integration, and costs.
Security: The cloud is not a cloud.
In the past decade, “it’s in the cloud” has become a common phrase. Some envision a magical place in the sky, storing all of our data.
The truth is, the cloud is here on Earth. It is most likely a massive server center, but it could also be in someone’s garage. Think of the cloud like the closet in your office that houses your networked servers. But, you do not have the key to unlock the door, someone else has the key. Hosted call recorders store your phone data on these servers (“the cloud”) controlled by them.
All the data stored in the cloud is accessible via the internet. While convenient, it leaves the data open to potential hacking from anywhere in the world. Although many praise the significant advances in security on the cloud, the risks are still present. If your data can be access via any internet connection, the likelihood it will be hacked grows. Additionally, you may not be the intended target, but other data stored from another company may be the hacker’s intention. Your data, on the same cloud server, is merely an incidental victim.
With an on-premise server, there is complete control over access. For additional security, external access can be blocked entirely and the data can be made accessible only within your intranet. Your restrictions and security protocols can be tightly controlled because you only need to provide access to your internal users, and are not concerned with providing a server environment that needs to accommodate a wider audience and other companies access to the same server.
It all comes back to the value of your data. Storing your phone calls in the “cloud” can pose a higher risk than opting for an on-premise solution.
Features: What can I do with all these recordings?
When a hosted VoIP provider offers call recording, it is usually an add-on to the phone system itself. The features provided with the included call recorder are typically basic in nature (search and play-back).
Think of it like this:
When you are craving a cup of high-quality coffee, do you head to your car dealership’s waiting room? Probably not. Although car dealerships offer coffee in their waiting rooms, it is an afterthought. They specialize in selling and maintaining cars, and the coffee is a perk when you are waiting for an oil change. Can you get a single-origin micro-lot pour-over? Doubtful.
That is how many hosted call recorders work. The phone providers include a basic call recording option with minimal search and playback tools. Their focus is providing phone service and an IVR system and managing phone extensions and groups, but not necessarily a focus on recording the calls, and for that matter, not a focus on providing a user interface to interact with recorded calls.
In comparison, on-premise recording companies focus on call recording as their primary function. The user interface is designed around call recording, not accessing settings to your PBX or auto attendant. Playback of calls is done within the software, no downloading. Calls can be live-monitored, edited, muted, flagged, noted, scored for quality control, emailed, extracted, and more. The user interface and functionality of the recording software is to provide the best use and interaction with the recorded calls.
Storage of all your calls
Due to the limited storage on hosted call recorders, providers limit the number of calls that can be retained on their servers. You have to periodically do a mass download of all the calls for a given period, in fear that they will eventually be removed. Over time, you end up with a huge folder of randomly downloaded and stored calls and no user interface to search and sort for specific recordings.
What happens when you change your hosted phone provider? What happens to all of those recordings stored on their server? Typically, you will also need to do a massive download of all the calls to your local hard drive. Because once you stop paying for the host providers service, they are unlikely to allow you access to their servers indefinitely.
An on-premise recorder stores all calls locally. Hard drive space is only limited with what you have in the original server, and many times, the software can auto-archive the recordings to networked hard drives. Thus, creating virtually unlimited storage. Additionally, depending on the type of on-premise solution you chose, you can always access and search the calls with the call recording user interface. Allowing you unlimited access to your call recordings and the ability to run past searches and reports on years of stored data.
Changing phone providers/systems
Hosted phone providers are not in limited supply. A quick google search will show businesses have many options when it comes to having their phones and service provided for. A business may choose Company A as their service provider, only to discover a year or two later the service is not meeting their expectations. Thus, changing to another hosting phone provider becomes a priority. However, if you were recording with Company A, now you are limited in your search to looking for a phone provider that also provides call recording. Additionally, your calls, stored on Company A, need to be removed and downloaded on-premise. Storing, and then later accessing such recordings may prove to be a bit of a burden.
Contrast with an on-premise recorder, changing phone systems is a fairly easy and straight forward task. If you are already recording Company A’s service, changing to Company B is a simple reconfiguration of the on-premise call recording solution. Additionally, you are not limited by only choosing a hosted provider, you may decide to bring your phone system in-house, and by doing so, changing your on-premise recorder over is also a simple matter of re-configuration. With an on-premise recorder, you are not tied to a specific phone provider, thus, an on-premise recording solution provides more flexibility with whom you do business with in the future.
Integration with other software
If you ever want to integrate with other internal systems, such as a CRM, or accounting software, a hosted call recording solution may be limited with how you integrate. Especially if your CRM or software is already on-premise, trying to integrate with cloud software may prove challenging. As mentioned before, most cloud recording solutions are considered an afterthought and not the main product line. Thus, built-in API’s may not be available, nor a dedicated staff that works on customer integration with your third-party software.
On-premise call recording is designed to be available to other third-party software, as API’s are typically already available, and, since call recording is the main product line, there usually is a dedicated department geared towards custom development for integration.
Costs vary, from hosted to on-premise, there are a plethora of factors. Most hosted call recording can be a lower entry point. The cost is typically a month-to-month expenditure, rather than an initial capital investment for on-premise solutions. Additionally, for hosted, the servers are maintained by a third party. However, with the steady reduction in the cost of hardware, the cost for maintaining a server has gone down, and in fact, most of the time, the cost to a comparable cloud-based server is significantly less when purchasing your own hardware in-house.
Although a subscription model is appealing because of the low initial cost, this cost is continuous, and, at the discretion of the hosted company to raise their rates. On-premise solutions also may offer a subscription model or term license model, but most offer a one time fee. Thus, once purchased, the licenses are owned, and the recorder will continue to operate as long as the server is properly maintained. SaaS offerings are designed to turn a profit for the hosting company over time, and typically over a period of 3-5 years, a business will have put more money into a SaaS solution than a one-time purchase solution.
Thus, hosted and on-premise have their pluses and minuses when it comes to costs. But such differences can be overcome depending on the type of purchase options the call recording provider has, as well as how your internal IT operations are managed.
We receive a lot of inquiries from businesses who initially added call recording as an add-on by their provider, only to discover the usage is limited and cumbersome. For some, a simple recording add-on is suitable to meet their business needs, but for those who want to actually use recorded calls to improve their business, reduce liability, and run reports and improve their overall business productivity, an on-premise recording solution is a preferred choice.
Go with the business that specializes in what you want. Go to the car dealer if you want a car, go get a cup a coffee from your local coffee house, and get call recording from a company that focuses on developing call recorders as their main product line.
By selecting a business that focuses on the specific tool you need, your business will operate more efficiently, and be able to grow and take advantage with the proper tools.