Which Words Work for What?


When it comes to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems, there’s a surprising number of terms that get thrown around. It all may seem like techno-mumbo-jumbo, but there are key differences between the various kinds of functionality that are important to be aware of.

Hosted VoIP vs Cloud VoIP vs Business VoIP: Three kinds of VoIP walk into a restaurant. The hostess asks, “Table for one?” But how is this possible?

Hosted VoIP and Business VoIP are often used interchangeably depending on the environment in which they are being utilized. Hosted VoIP refers to a VoIP platform in which the provider hosts everything from the servers to the actual services. Business VoIP offers features and functionality that are specifically designed for businesses.

Cloud VoIP services are subtly, but importantly, different. Rather than setting up PBX (Private Branch Exchange) or hardline connections between servers, we manage those communications through the cloud. This helps keep infrastructure costs lower and allows us to pass those savings onto our users. It also means that all of your devices (physical phones, laptops, softphone applications, mobile apps) can be accessed from anywhere with a stable network.

SaaS (Software as a Service): Sit back, relax, and let us do the work.

While the SaaS model does go hand in hand with many VoIP systems, the two are actually quite distinct from one another. At its most basic level, cloud-based SaaS is a business model in which a company provides access to software on an ongoing basis without the user needing to download the software directly or build any infrastructure on their end. For our users, this means the full power of the FluentStream system is available from any internet-connected device anywhere there’s a stable connection.

Instead of a desktop application, your phone system is managed through the my.fluentcloud.com web portal. By keeping that interface in the cloud, it’s possible for us to push updates, make changes remotely, and help troubleshoot devices all without a single download. The SaaS model also allows for much easier integration with various platforms.

UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service): This ain’t your grandpa’s phone company.

‘Unified Communications as a Service’ may just sound like a series of buzzwords cobbled together, but the distinction between a UCaaS and strict VoIP or SaaS systems is an important one when considering your specific business needs. At its core, that distinction comes down to the amount of features you receive from the platform. Many VoIP services bundle fax or conference lines. Most SaaS providers make it easy to integrate other applications. But with a UCaaS, it all comes together in one convenient business communication package.

For FluentStream specifically, that means VoIP phone service, efaxing, SMS messaging, conference calling, video conferencing, Local Area Presence, Voicemail Drop, Live Manager active monitoring, in-depth reporting, SalesForce integration, and much more all under a single service.

Can a single phone system provider fall into more than one of these categories? Yes, absolutely. These terms exist to describe various types of functionality, and while some providers may just fall into one, others like FluentStream can be described by all of them.

As devices become more integrated through the cloud, the lines between individual services have gotten increasingly blurred. Refer to this quick guide when keeping track of the different VoIP variations.

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