Reliable communications systems are obviously critical for any operation, but a surprisingly large number of organizations depend upon aging telephone technology. As long as they have dial tone, few get in a hurry to replace premises-based phone systems that have reached end-of-life or end-of-support status.

That approach carries some risk.

After about 10 years, phone systems begin to bump up against the back end of the so-called “bathtub curve” — an engineering measure for product reliability. The idea is that mapping reliability over a technology’s lifecycle typically produces a tub-shaped curve with high but rapidly decreasing failure rates upon implementation, a stable rate during most of the lifecycle and finally a rising failure at the end.

Companies clinging to functional but aging systems are likely to see rising maintenance costs along with heightened risks stemming from functionality or compatibility issues. Here are four of the top challenges from aging phone systems:

  • At end-of-support (EOS), you essentially become responsible for the maintenance of all your own equipment — an IP-PBX server, routers, cables, gateways, phones and other devices. That’s a lot of extra work, and it can be tough to find replacement parts and components after EOS. Vendors may still have some of what you need, but they aren’t making any more. Eventually, you’ll have to scour after-markets and alternate sources to find components at premium prices.
  • The vendor will stop providing patches, updates and bug fixes. That leaves your system exposed to elevated cybersecurity risks and hardware compatibility issues. An unpatched PBX can potentially expose your organization to toll fraud, data theft, data tampering, denial of services and more. The remediation efforts alone can take a serious bite out of your bottom line.
  • Without ongoing updates, the system could become unstable due to hardware compatibility issues. Any kind of network upgrade or change could affect the quality or reliability of your phone system. Of course, a full-on system failure is the worst-case scenario. Even temporary outages can result in lost business and a sullied reputation.
  • If you’re running a unified communications (UC) solution, compatibility issues could cause some of your collaboration and productivity applications to become unavailable. Additionally, you won’t be able to integrate newer applications, modules or features.

Nothing lasts forever. Most premises-based PBXs were built to last about 12 years, although vendors usually begin issuing EOL and EOS notifications a couple of years before that. If it is time for an upgrade, most organizations should strongly consider whether they really want to invest in another on-premises solution.

There’s a growing preference for cloud-based services, particularly for UC solutions. Garter predicts that by 2021, 90 percent of organizations upgrading on-premises UC systems will switch to the cloud due to advanced features, functions, portals, analytics and dashboards. Plus, putting UC in the cloud just makes great economic sense — the infrastructure is there, the support mechanisms are in the place, and fewer IT resources are required to manage it.

An aging phone system may have served you well for years, but it can also cause big trouble. Beyond the hard costs of service and support, aging phones also have significant opportunity costs. Outdated features, limited mobility capabilities and fragmented applications create quality and operational issues that restrict productivity, inhibit innovation and frustrate customers. Give us to call to learn how cloud-based UC can help your company reduce risks and costs while enhancing communication and innovation.