As the digital world expands, one of the most crucial things that a business needs to worry about is communication. While email and texting – both at the office and at home – have become commonplace, areas that can still cost a company a great deal of money are phone and video conversations over long distances. A technology now gaining ground with standard phone providers, cell providers, and Web hosts to solve this problem is voice over IP or VoIP, and it can offer a number of benefits to both host and user.
At its heart, VoIP is simply a new way to take analog audio signals – the type that are transmitted through standard telephone cables – and change them into digital signals. Once that has been accomplished, the signals can be sent over the Internet, rather than having to use phone lines, allowing users to bypass standard phone charges almost entirely. Of course, phone companies are now looking for ways to cash in on this service, and the FCC is seeking ways to regulate the use of VoIP communications in the long term.
For an end user, there are several ways to take advantage of VoIP technology. An analog telephone adapter (ATA) may be used, which allows you to connect a standard phone to a computer and make VoIP calls. IP phones may also be used, which have an RJ-45 connection for a router instead of an RJ-11 connector for a wall jack. Computer-to-computer VoIP calls are the simplest way to use this technology, and may be done by way of a headset or Web camera. Applications like Apple’s Facetime take advantage of VoIP technology, and many providers are able to offer international, unlimited calling packages for a fraction of the cost of standard phone plans. Currently, most of the international calling done, even from a standard phone, is done using VoIP technology.
For a business, running a VoIP server on a local computer can mean a significant cost savings for communications of all types, all over the globe. But while hosting such a server locally is an option, many businesses are also looking at ways to host a VoIP server elsewhere, and leverage the power of a VPS or VDS they are paying for. By making giving a VoIP program an entire virtual machine to work with, a company can create a VoIP VPS that will suffer less lag and experience fewer problems, in many cases, than one that is uses locally or through an online provider.
One of the most popular communications platforms that can be run on a VPS server is Asterisk, which allows a company to use IP PBX systems, power conference servers, and use VoIP communications anywhere in the world. In order to use an Asterisk VPS, a company must be running a VM with Linux, Windows, or the MacOS, and some limited support for an OS like Solaris exist too. Developments to Asterisk, which is open-source, can be made in C++, Java, C#, and Python.
As the VoIP market has grown, competitors in the marketspace have sprung up, including Elastix and FreeSWITCH among others. VoIP programs like Ventrilo and Teamspeak can also be placed on VPS servers, but are typically unable to support a broad range of communications beyond simple VoIP chats with multiple users.
While a remotely hosted, VoIP VPS solution can address many of a company’s needs for efficient communication, there are times when locally hosted versions may be the best choice. Remotely hosting a VoIP server will often cost less than hosting it locally, but a company may find that as the number of users on the system increases, and during peak hours, their calls are experiencing lag, or that it is difficult to establish a solid connection. This can be due to pressure being placed on the VPS bandwidth by other VMs. Often this can be alleviated by upgrading the system resources or bandwidth allotted for your VoIP server. But at some point in your future growth, you may see the need to upgrade to a dedicated hosting service with higher guaranteed availability.
A company may also wish to choose a remotely hosted VoIP VPS to allow the program room to work; often, a VoIP server can be bogged down by other programs on a local server or desktop, and giving it a private server can increase performance.
No matter what VoIP and VPS providers are chosen, it is possible for a company to find both significant savings and an overall performance increase in their communications systems with a hosted VoIP VPS choice.