RingCentral leverages the cloud computing model to offer a Web-based phone system for SMBs as an alternative to traditional phone carriers such as AT&T and newcomers such as Google Voice or Ifbyphone. RingCentral Office costs $99.99 per month for up to four users and includes several of the bells and whistles business users have come to associate with traditional phone and fax services.
Much is made about Skype and Google Voice,
applications that let consumers use the
Web as a medium for voice communications, but you don't tend to hear a lot
about business phone systems living entirely in the cloud.
aims to change that with the introduction of RingCentral Office,
a cheaper VOIP (voice over IP) phone
platform offering preconfigured Linksys IP business phones for workers in small
and midsize businesses.
RingCentral Office costs $99.99 per month for up to four users and includes
several of the bells and whistles business users have come to associate with
traditional phone and fax services from Ma Bell and others.
Callers will call a single toll-free 800 number or local phone number that
can be programmed to ring multiple phones, including existing mobile, home and
office phones, or PCs. Users can also send and receive faxes, route calls to
any worker regardless of his or her location and provide callers with an
auto-attendant and a dial-by-name directory.
The Office package also includes unlimited virtual phone extensions and
voice mail in-boxes; unlimited inbound and outbound faxing and calling; and the
ability to add an unlimited number of lines for $24.99 per month.
One might ask, What's wrong with existing phone systems from legacy phone
carriers? They tend to be reliable. Reliability is not the pain point
RingCentral is attacking, but price. Between the carrier's hardware
installations and calling charges, legacy phone implementations are expensive
to set up and maintain over time.
RingCentral aims to be a cost-effective alternative to this, saving SMBs thousands
of dollars per year over traditional phone systems, Praful Shah, vice president
of product strategy at RingCentral, told eWEEK.
Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of Thinkstrategies, told eWEEK the overall
growth of VOIP and business applications based on SAAS (software as a service)
has opened the door for a growing number of businesses to consider and adopt
cloud-based phone alternatives to traditional telephony.
"While this is particularly true among startups and SMBs, it also
includes larger enterprises that have situational needs that are best served by
a cloud-based solution," Kaplan said. "RingCentral Office offers a
cost-effective and easy-to-use alternative."
However, the cloud computing model still has kinks to work out. Google,
which offers its Gmail and Google Apps as alternatives to on-premises solutions
from Microsoft, IBM and others, has suffered several outages
that painted the cloud model in a
Moreover, a hacker's recent infiltration of a Twitter employee's Google Apps
account put another damper on the cloud model's image, this time with regard to
security. It's not that the software itself is insecure, but that the humans
who use it are careless with the way they keep and maintain their passwords to
access these applications.
Thanks to such events, RingCentral will have to fight the preconceptions of customers
concerned about the cloud, and it will have to battle phone carriers who have
had a lock on the land-line market for decades.
The company also faces competition
from insurgents such as Google Voice, which will eventually make plays for
businesses in addition to consumers, and startups such as VirtualPBX.com and