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    April 3, 2024

    Keep Holding On: Integrating a PBX in UCaaS & CPaaS Solutions

    PBX systems have been around for a long time. But these days, these systems and the phones connected to them, are becoming a bit like vintage cars. They still start and still get you from point A to point B, but they’re not often your first choice for getting around except in vintage car rallies. Many will end up relegated to the garage.  a man transferring a call from an office phone to a cell phone.

    Back in the day, the PBX was  the cornerstone of business communication. With features like voicemail, call forwarding, and auto-attendants, these systems  really took calling to the next level. Now, however, other solutions provide these same features in the cloud, making them more flexible and cost-effective than an old PBX. And, well, people often hesitate to “do away” with their trusty phone systems. The question is, do you have to? 

    We suggest that, if you’ve got one around, you may as well keep it. Ripping out and replacing old systems is a difficult and often cost-prohibitive process. Also, if your PBX already has all the features you need, why run the risk of adopting a totally new system? 

    In the modern world of communications, with all its cloud architecture and “as-a-service" models, PBXs can still be useful in your environment. 

    Moving Beyond the Copper Sunset 

    Before we talk more about your legacy systems, let’s address the elephant in the room: the copper sunset. Phone companies have been steadily decommissioning their copper lines, meaning between now and when they finally go away for good, managing phone systems with copper wires will be unnecessarily difficult and expensive. 

    Fortunately, there are ways to continue using your PBX system by transitioning from landlines to an internet-based network solution. 

    It’s all very self-explanatory. Rather than transmitting voice signals through copper lines like they used to, a PBX with VoIP capabilities sends voice over the internet, usually with session initiation protocol (SIP) trunks. With this set up, the phone companies can do whatever they want with the copper lines. The internet’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and that means neither is your voice infrastructure. 

    VoIP integration is the first key step to creating a communications environment where your PBX and a UCaaS or CPaaS solution can live in harmony. 

    Integrating a PBX with UCaaS and CPaaS 

    Let’s briefly review what UCaaS and CPaaS are. 

    UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) provides communication solutions that combine messaging, calling, and other channels in one package. This includes platforms like Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom. 

    CPaaS (Communication Platform as a Service), on the other hand, provides an integration platform that allows multiple applications to interoperate. These applications, which may include UCaaS, become one multi-faceted solution, becoming the glue that holds your communications together.  

    For more information on what CPaaS is and how it works, read here. 

    UCaaS Integration 

    Each of the three major UCaaS platforms – Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom – have their own methods of leveraging PBX systems.  

    For example, Teams has what it calls Direct Routing. Direct Routing allows Teams users to set up Teams with a session border controller (SBC), which can be either hosted or cloud-based (and even provided as a service). This SBC then also connects to the PBX via SIP trunks, and from there to the PSTN. 

    Webex and Zoom have features like Direct Routing, just without the clever name. 

    With SBCs on hand, connecting UCaaS solutions to existing telephony is cost-effective, and it can make your cloud migration much smoother. Once the SBCs are properly set up, connecting the old technology and the new solution will be as easy as hooking up a game console to the TV at your friend’s house. 

    CPaaS Integration 

    Integrating a PBX with a CPaaS solution can go one of two ways. 

    The first is almost indistinguishable from the main UCaaS integration method. SIP trunks and SBCs allow the PBX and the new solution to communicate with each other via the internet. This method works great if your CPaaS solution has been built separately from your existing infrastructure.  

    The other method is slightly more complicated, but it can lead to more interesting results. The application programing interfaces (APIs) used to build CPaaS solutions can be added onto the PBX itself rather than an entirely different solution. 

    Integrating APIs can enable omnichannel communication, enhance security with advanced encryption and threat detection, and add AI integration to automate calling and messaging. 

    A Scalable and Flexible PBX 

    It’s hard for a PBX to keep up in the world of modern communications on its own. UCaaS and CPaaS solutions help extend its lifespan and create a more flexible and scalable environment. 

    What was once old technology destined for the junk heap, dreading the onset of the copper sunset, can become an integral part of your cloud strategy. Integrating a UCaaS or CPaaS solution is a cost-effective way to create a hybrid workspace, add futureproofing to your voice environment, and break down communication barriers across your organization. 

    To get the most out of this solution, however, you’ll need a strong and knowledgeable integrator on your side. If you’re not careful, you may wind up with an integrator that doesn’t have your organization’s needs in mind. They’ll try to convince you to rip and replace your old systems or spend money on upgrades you don’t need. 

    Continuant hasn’t done that in its whole 28-year history, and it isn't about to start now. Our goal is to design and deploy a solution that aligns with your business goals without breaking the bank.  

    We’re all about the power of choice. If your choice is to keep your PBX for as long as possible, we’ll make sure you get the most out of it. 

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    David Shelby

    David Shelby graduated from George Fox University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in English and began writing for Continuant soon after. With the help of Continuant's world-class engineers and subject matter experts, he's dedicated himself to understanding all things business communications. When it comes to UC, AV,...

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