Posts Tagged: pbx

Advice – Communications for Enterprise

Lets address some points that should be taken under consideration for IT managers looking at packetized communications for their Enterprise.  Below are the highlights and my thoughts:

Highlights

Look For SIP Support

I couldn’t agree more!  SIP is a protocol used to establish, teardown, modify, etc communication sessions.  It’s very diverse and relatively simple when compared to past mechanisms.  Most importantly, it has become the defacto standard within the world of telephony.  There’s native SIP support in nearly all the major vendors that supply VoIP gear. (Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Microsoft)

Consider The Benefits Of Hosted PBX

This topic has be discussed numerous times in the past, and even before that within a TDM context (PBX vs. Centrex).  The thing that’s different within an IP context is the feature and functionality available.  When comparing a PBX to a Centrex offering, one key difference was additional feature and functionality in a PBX.  Centrex offerings didn’t have the same “whiz-bang” features.  In today’s Hosted Telephony offerings, there’s near feature parity, so the key determining factor becomes cost of ownership.

Think Unified Communications

VoIP (or Telephony) MUST be seen as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of Unified Communications.  IT managers should consider the roadmap to UC when choosing a Telephony solution.  Real-time communications need to become multi-modal, meaning there should be options to transition communications from IM to voice to video to online collaboration on a document, and then back again – all within the same context and within a common look/feel.

Traversing NAT

Though the issue of Network Address Translation (NAT) is well known to negatively impact SIP sessions, the real point for consideration here for the IT Manager should be around considering the deployment of a Session Border Controller (SBC) within their Enterprise as part of an overall design.

Know & Apply Codecs

There are more ways to packetize voice and video communications than one can shake a stick at.  The author points out the predominant technologies of G.711 and G.729.  Issues of bandwidth consumption and quality of user’s experience must be balanced.  Generally speaking, the more bandwidth consumed, the better the experience.  But the more bandwidth used, the greater the cost to upgrade the LAN/WAN infrastructure to accommodate.  If you skimp on cost, the result would be poor quality, and then adoption and experiences would suffer.  It’s a delicate balancing game.

Some further comments :

• Make sure to have 100k in bandwidth free and available for every conversation when determining whether the enterprise really has enough bandwidth for VoIP.  With multiple calls made from one location a simple DSL  won’t cut it.

• Get VoIP phones that are both wired for Ethernet and wireless for Wi-Fi connectivity. That way, people can wander, and all internal calls within the building are free of charge because they stay on the network. Check the mobile voip solutions, few of them even work without need of data plan.

• Make sure the vendor is going to be around to support the purchase.  An older vendor with roots, commitments, and financial means is an obvious choice. A new vendor with strong management, skills, and reputation who proves out through considered research can also be a sharp choice.

VoIP Considerations for IT Decision-makers

VoIP Decisions

Lets address some points that should be taken under consideration for IT managers looking at packetized communications for their Enterprise.  Below are the highlights and my thoughts:

Look For SIP Support

I couldn’t agree more!  SIP is a protocol used to establish, teardown, modify, etc communication sessions.  It’s very diverse and relatively simple when compared to past mechanisms.  Most importantly, it has become the defacto standard within the world of telephony.  There’s native SIP support in nearly all the major vendors that supply VoIP gear. (Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Microsoft)

Consider The Benefits Of Hosted PBX

This topic has be discussed numerous times in the past, and even before that within a TDM context (PBX vs. Centrex).  The thing that’s different within an IP context is the feature and functionality available.  When comparing a PBX to a Centrex offering, one key difference was additional feature and functionality in a PBX.  Centrex offerings didn’t have the same “whiz-bang” features.  In today’s Hosted Telephony offerings, there’s near feature parity, so the key determining factor becomes cost of ownership.

Think Unified Communications

VoIP (or Telephony) MUST be seen as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of Unified Communications.  IT managers should consider the roadmap to UC when choosing a Telephony solution.  Real-time communications need to become multi-modal, meaning there should be options to transition communications from IM to voice to video to online collaboration on a document, and then back again – all within the same context and within a common look/feel.

Traversing NAT

Though the issue of Network Address Translation (NAT) is well known to negatively impact SIP sessions, the real point for consideration here for the IT Manager should be around considering the deployment of a Session Border Controller (SBC) within their Enterprise as part of an overall design.

Know & Apply Codecs

There are more ways to packetize voice and video communications than one can shake a stick at.  The author points out the predominant technologies of G.711 and G.729.  Issues of bandwidth consumption and quality of user’s experience must be balanced.  Generally speaking, the more bandwidth consumed, the better the experience.  But the more bandwidth used, the greater the cost to upgrade the LAN/WAN infrastructure to accommodate.  If you skimp on cost, the result would be poor quality, and then adoption and experiences would suffer.  It’s a delicate balancing game.

Some further comments captured in the article.

• Make sure to have 100k in bandwidth free and available for every conversation when determining whether the enterprise really has enough bandwidth for VoIP, according to Andy Abramson, blogger at VoIP Watch and founder and CEO of Comunicano (www.comunicano.com). With this understanding, it’s easy to see that DSL or a cable modem line won’t cut it.

• Get VoIP phones that are both wired for Ethernet and wireless for Wi-Fi connectivity, notes Abramson. “That way, people can wander, and all internal calls within the building are free of charge because they stay on the network.”

• “Make sure the vendor is going to be around to support the purchase,” Abramson says. An older vendor with roots, commitments, and financial means is an obvious choice. A new vendor with strong management, skills, and reputation who proves out through considered research can also be a sharp choice.

 

How to Choose a VOIP Provider and How Important Is It For Your Business

 

VOIP is a telecommunications technology that replaces and upgrades the legacy Public Switched Telephone Network cabling. Its only drawback is that it requires Internet, but in return VOIP provides secure access and lots of extras important to business telephony.

VOIP BENEFITS

 

Transferring to VOIP is almost mandatory if you are running business that relies on telephony or if you are simply planning to change your telecom system. VOIP offers important benefits, both financial and operational. It simplifies the infrastructure and reduces call, maintenance and moving costs.

A growing trend

Growing numbers of businesses have already moved to VOIP realizing these benefits. The trend is not surprising considering the lower costs for businesses. According to analysis switching from legacy systems to SIP trunking lowers the total cost by 50%.

Upgrade legacy systems

VOIP gives the business access to the all the benefits of Internet telephony. With the new infrastructure Voip connects your PBX to an Internet Telephony Provider, benefiting you from the lower cost of long distance calls and professional pbx functions. You can even use rented cloud PBX to lower maintenance and infrastructure costs.

Connect your branches

If have interstate branch offices and want to connect them to the communication facilities of head office, you can connect them with VOIP. This can be done by connecting the sites to your infrastructure or using a service provider that can connect your facilities with cloud PBX. Both ways, you provide your branches with improved communications eliminating duplicate infrastructure while effectively halving the support staff needed.

Simplify infrastructure

Operate separate networks for data and voice is not cost effective and is even harder to backup. You can make significant savings with VOIP transition. using a single channel for data, voice and video will reduce network complexity and you will cut the costs for upgrades, backup lines and maintenance.

Mobile communications

As mentioned before the main disadvantage of VOIP communications is the requirement for internet connection. It is not much of a problem when you are calling from the office but field workers don’t have that privilege. Some VOIP providers like MIXvoip recently solved that issue by using DTMF allowing mobile VOIP calls to be made even without internet connection.

Selection factors

With that many benefits, how would you proceed when choosing a VOIP provider? Which are the most important factors to consider?
As people that have been in the VOIP business for quite some time now, we recommend you to choose by:

  1. Security
  2. Quality of Support
  3. Extended Services
  4. Pricing
  5. Mobility
  6. Call Quality

 

Security

Security the most important factor because VOIP is an Internet technology. As such it can be subject attacks and other risks that come with that environment. Service providers offer different security measures and techs. Software measures include authentication, encryption and the use of secure real time transport protocols. Hardware security is mostly done with the use of separate network access routers it is called transport-layer security and is used to protect your network against attacks that can disrupt the phone service.

Quality of support

Quality of support really important too and definitely should be considered. As with every service, at some point problems will arise and you should be confident that your provider can minimize the downtimes. VOIP is an Internet service often hosted on cloud servers, as such businesses don’t need support staff on site, the service provider support teams have the responsibility to keep everything running.

Pricing and mobility

Pricing and mobility are mostly self explanatory. They are both very business specific and depend on individual business structure and needs. Some providers charge flat, based on number of devices, others charge based on the number of calls your business makes. Most VOIP providers do not offer unlimited calls but there are exceptions. If you have lots of field workers you should make sure the company offers a mobile app.

Call quality

Call quality is not that important but shouldn’t be neglected. Most providers promote on call quality but you should know that sound quality requires more data. When more data is used you can make less simultaneous calls without call interferences and you will need to upgrade your internet plan.

VOIP is essential if you want to enjoy the advantages of business communications, save money and achieve business, financial and operational benefits.

Top 10 Free PBX Solutions – detailed comparison

Which are the top free PBX business solutions

Adopting an existing VOIP service from the top PBX providers will get the job done for most businesses. But no one said it is easy to find the right one. Providers do their best to fit the needs of every business on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, with gaps in usage cases, business team sizes, required features or safety, it may be about impossible satisfy everyone. For all those cases where a service won’t fill in the gaps, businesses can turn to open source solutions or platforms. And yes there are open source PBX software solutions out there. With them any business can develop and tailor their own in house PBX applications. Since these platforms are open source, all the source is available for free online, and can be tailored for every specific scenario.

Asterisk

Asterisk is the godfather of all open source PBX and VOIP solutions. And it continues to function as gold standard. It is the leading open source telephony platform, with an enormous feature lists which only continues to grow each year. The Asterisk tool kit is used by a mass quantity of developers around the world. Many of the suppliers on our list have either begun with, or are based completely on the Asterisk project. It is packed with the standard PBX VOIP features. Consisting of automatic telephone, an interactive voice response menu, conference calling, and voicemail. Asterisk makes it easy workable to turn any computer. The program is free and open source. To help get you started, Asterisk provides live web classes, as well as an Asterisk Definitive guide. Asterisk can be considered The Platform when it comes to creating your own VoIP or PBX.

SIPFoundry

SIP Foundry provides much of the solutions that the Asterisk engine can power. With SIPFoundry you can construct your own voice and video communications. In addition it support conference calls, messaging and chat. Like with Asterisk, the platform includes everything you might need to build your own PBX solution. Nevertheless, whilst Asterisk is 100% free and open source depending on guides. SIPFoundry has a somewhat different spin. It offers professional paid assistance to developers based upon customer needs. While an excess cost to think about, adopting a support team might be a essential step for some businesses looking to build their own system. With a focus on the marketplace, the tool is free for commercial or private use. The project has also brought in features from other open source projects. HylaFAX, FreePBX, Openfire and Postfix.

Elastix

Elastix intends to bring in Asterisk’s features and other such projects, all under 1 easy-to-use interface. Elastix boasts support for a wide range of hardware consisting of Yeastar, Dinstar, Digium, Yealink and Snom. It was actually 1 of the first distributions that included a call center module. And it proceeds to supply the solutionfree under the GNU General Public License. It’s come to our attention that Elastix appears to provide up to 8 SIM calls for approximately 25 users, since writing this post. FreeSWITCH was also based off the Asterisk platform, and was created and developed by 3 of the original programmers of the Asterisk platform. Anthony Minessale II, Brian West and Michael Jerris.

FreeSWITCH

FreeSWITCH is with a focus on modulator, cross-platform service, availability and stability. It provides 1 of the most flexible platforms to construct your own UC package. FreeSWITCH supports SIP, H.323 as well as WebRTC to leverage the latest advancements in the technology. It can integrate and interface with other some of the other open source PBX platforms. For less complexity FreeSWITCH utilizes open software libraries that preform the essential functions. FreeSWITCH delivers the calling features and some extras such as speech recognition. It even offers PSTN ports for digital and analogue circuits.

Voicetronix

Voicetronix is equipment supplier and a solutions that offers an open source platform, but also an assortment of hardware. The do-it-yourself OpenPBX of Voicetronix is a web enabled PBX program. It comes with a web based user management portal, in addition to a management GUI for easy and rapid configuration. It is feature rich with car attendant, automatic call distribution call routing search groups and even voicemail. Unique features like call hunt groups, music on hold and call records are good solution for businesses in need of a basic call center software. With CRM baked and enabled into the platform, users may not require to adopt a separate CRM solution, saving time and money.

PBXInAFlash

PBXInAFlash main feature is the ability set up your own PBX server in no time. The project has everything needed to set up a PBX system in under one hour. It uses CentOS, with integrated Apache web server, SendMail server, and MySQL database. In addition to firewalls and all essential protocols. Users have the option to pick from dozens of add-ons to tailor the system. Backups, Caller ID look up services, SSL keys, Google Voice integration, and fax support to name a few. With the number 1 goal of no bloat and no bugs, PBXInAFlash seems to be easiest and the quickest solution to adopt.

FreePBX (GUI)

FreePBX combines the best of both worlds, and leverages the work. While the project uses the Asterisk system, users may download either just the GUI to add on to their current system, or the whole package. It consists of a per-configured program OS, Asterisk, and the FreePBX GUI. So while by adopting Asterisk, some knowledge may be required to take advantage of, or to create your own GUI, FreePBX brings it all together. FreePBX makes it feasible to establish your SIP Trunks that are part of the platform thanks to the integration. FreePBX also contains a long list of commercial modules and add-ons to enhance your system with even more features.

OpenSIPs

With a focus on open source implementation of a SIP server, with OpenSIPs its easy to set up your own PBX. The platform supports video, voice, IM and presence services. It is using modular design, it is scalable, and very much customizable. OpenSIPs enterprise class SIP server solution and a very fast one at that . OpenSIP has made a list of benchmarks and performance tests to back their claim up. Similar to Asterisk, OpenSIPs often records webinars, and makes in depth manuals for configuration. A web interface makes it easy to collect data and shows on the fly configurations.

Kamailio

Kamailio is an open source project with 15 years of constructive development. And while the original company left the project, it continues to expand, both the SIP server and Kamailio project continue to build on. With features like UDP asynchronous TCP and SCTP, TLS to ensure secure communications. VoIP data consisting of voice video and text, and even WebRTC support the hard work can clearly be seen. Kamailio also supports instant messaging, least cost routing, load balancing, routing fail-over. Realizing that security features are important they are offering the strongest level of security on this list. Authentication and authorization for enhanced security as well as the level of encryption that the platform gives makes it a good recommendation for any staff or business that needs to keep everything as locked down and protected as possible. As a result of all that, Kamailio may be a bit more challenging to adopt.

3CX

The 3CX Phone System is the last open source PBX based upon the SIP standard on the list. This solution allows extensions to make calls on the PSTN or standard services. The platform also offers an easy to understand web based GUI, and the process to is actually simple – an executable file. 3CX supports iOS and Android for mobile customers, of coarse Windows and Mac softphones are supported too. It appears to take out the hassle of development required to establish your own PBX server. WebRTC adoption makes web conferencing possible. Click2Call and CRM are also part of the features. As most others, internet training academy is readily available for users to understand how to manage the platform.