Last week, Columbus Business Solutions launched their brand new ‘Cloud Portfolio’ in Trinidad. We were told that these cloud services will be available within the next couple of months on Curacao, but what can customers really expect?
First of all, the 3 products that were launched – Cloud Voice, Cloud IT Security and Cloud Video Conferencing – are all affordable business products. When you think of Flow, you probably think of their residential services, but these cloud services will make them a bigger player on the business side of things as well.
Which service will sell the best?
I think that business will be lining up for the Columbus Cloud Voice service, a sentiment that was echoed by Flow representatives in Trinidad as well. Telephony plays such a big roll for companies here in Curacao and this solution will save them money and have them working more productively, two variables that bosses seem to love.
We’ve already mentioned some of the benefits of this voice service that will be offered through partner Metaswitch and at the end of the day, it will be the best VoIP solution that a company will be able to get here on Curacao. And again, it’s scalable, meaning that you can implement it in your small, 4 employee company, but it can also be used by a big conglomerate.
Should UTS be sweating it?
Of course. Companies who are looking for cheaper ways to make phone calls will be switching to Columbus Cloud Voice, just like many residential users dumped UTS’ DSL service for Flow’s cable Internet.
It will be interesting to see though how UTS will react to customers who want to dump their land line service and switch to Cloud Voice, while running the voice service over a UTS broadband connection. You can use any broadband connection in combination with these cloud services, so theoretically, you can switch to Columbus Voice and use UTS’ own Internet connection at the same time you kill their land line service.*
* That’s what we call sweet, sweet irony
A Flow representative we spoke to expects UTS to put up as much resistance as possible, which means that you’ll probably be better off by switching to Flow Business Broadband, if you have not already.
Which service am I most exited about?
Well, it may have to do with my background as network administrator or due to the fact that I got hacked last month, but the Cloud IT Security service has me pretty pumped. We’re talking about being protected by products and services that are used by Fortune 500 companies and all you have to do is connect a small gateway and pay a fixed monthly fee.
Updates are immediately rolled out and installed and I love the fact that the customer can decide how hands on their own IT department will be. If you think your IT staff is capable enough, Columbus Business Solutions (and Checkpoint) will step back and let you run the entire show. If you’re intimated by security, you just step back and let the pros take care of everything for you.
During my admin days, I came across many small businesses where security was not a priority. Many factors are at play here, with cost probably playing the biggest factor. That’s where this Cloud IT service can take off. It will save customers money (no need to hire dedicated IT people, no need to purchase extra hardware) and you will have the peace of mind that you are protected and backed by a true industry leader.
Again, you connect the gateway, you run the set up wizard and you are done.
No love for the video conferencing service?
Of course. I used to work at a company where we did a lot of meetings via Skype and this Cloud Video Conferencing tool from Glowpoint would have been the ideal solution. From the moderator tools (look a meeting, remove participants, volume control, reception control), to the video switching – whoever is talking longer than 2 seconds is automatically seen in the main screen – it will make your video conferencing a pleasant experience.
So, how does Flow stack up now against the other providers?
Every provider has its advantages. UTS hangs its hat on offering clients “everything” (broadband, mobile Internet, digital television, business broadband, Blackberry services, cell service and land line service), TRES has a 100% Fiber Network, Scarlet offers mobile broadband possibilities, VoIP, hosting and business broadband, while Digicel, a mobile provider, can say that it was the first to introduce 4G on Curacao.
Flow can now offer a more complete package, with residential customers being able to take (the fastest) broadband, digital television (and soon telephony), while business customers can fill certain needs besides a business broadband connection.
I can see many small to medium sized companies start up with a business broadband connection (with static ip’s and on the region’s most advanced network), along with VoIP calling, a top of the line security suite and a conferencing tool to stay in touch with clients and other workers.
It bears repeating: quality, affordability and scalability. Now let’s see how the others react….