Virtual PBX

If you’ve been looking into business phone systems, chances are you’ve heard the term “virtual PBX” come up a time or two. But what exactly is a virtual PBX? And is it the same as virtualization? If not, what’s the difference between the two? Here we’ll go over what a virtual PBX is and how it differs from virtualization, so you can make better-informed decisions regarding your business or organization’s phone system.

Generally speaking, a virtual PBX is a phone system where the components that actually power the phone system live someplace other than the location where the phone system is being used. Virtual PBXs are commonly referred to when talking about hosted PBXs, as the two are basically the same. In fact, the terms “virtual” and “hosted” are often used interchangeably, but they generally refer to the same type of phone system.

Here’s an overview of what a virtual PBX is and how it can help your business.

Virtual PBX: Cloud Devices

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What is a PBX?

To understand what a virtual PBX is, we first need to understand what a PBX is. The term PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, which is basically a business telephone system that allows calls to be “exchanged” (or switched) between different “branches” (or lines) within a business.

The term PBX originated with call switchboards of the past, where operators would manually switch calls to the correct line or extension by unplugging and plugging cords. As technology evolved, machines took over the actual switching of phone lines, but the same general concept remains.

What is a Virtual PBX?

So if a PBX is simply a phone system that receives calls and routes or switches them to the correct extension, then a virtual PBX is just what it sounds like - a virtual version of a phone system. The important thing to note about virtual PBXs is, as we mentioned before, many people use that term to simply refer to a hosted PBX - which is essentially a complete “virtual” phone system where most of the phone system hardware lives someplace other than your actual place of business (typically at a data center or “cloud” center, which is why hosted PBXs are also sometimes called Cloud PBXs).

Remember how we said that a PBX, in the traditional sense, is a system by which incoming calls are “exchanged” (switched) between several “branches” (users or extensions) ultimately allowing multiple users to share phone lines within a business? That’s the same concept of a virtual PBX, it just exists virtually instead of having physical hardware.

A virtual PBX, or hosted PBX, can include all the features of a VoIP phone system. They typically include an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) or an auto-attendant to answer calls and route them to the correct extension, landline, or cell phone as well as call forwarding features such as find me/follow me.

So while the terms virtual PBX and hosted PBX are often used differently in various scenarios, they both generally refer to the same type of phone system.

To learn more about our virtual PBX and hosted PBX solution, check out our Switchvox Cloud page.

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What is Virtualization?

Another term that often times gets confused with virtual PBX and hosted PBX is the term “virtualization”. Virtualization refers to the method by which software is used to enable one single on-site server to run multiple applications and systems at the same time. Without virtualization, each technology used within your business might have its own dedicated server.

So for example, you might have one server for voicemail, one for file storage, one for call control, one for email, etc. To eliminate the need for all these servers for each individual technology, Virtualization software basically puts them all on one single “virtualized” server, saving your business money, resources, and complexity. Again, virtualization refers to the process of consolidating technology and IT resources, while virtual PBX simply refers to the virtual phone features that answer and route calls.

The dual uses of the term “virtual” can get confusing, but the main thing to remember is that a “virtual PBX” refers to a component of a hosted phone system, while “virtualization” is a process that allows on-premise phone systems to consolidate resources to a single server.

To learn more about virtualization and how it saves businesses money, time, and resources, take a look at out our virtualization page.

Next Step:

If you’re unsure which system would be best for your situation, check out our “Hosted vs. On-premises UC: Which is Right for Your Business” guide. It will help you determine which phone system deployment strategy offers the best value for you and your business or organization.

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