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Thread: VOIP / PBX advice

  1. #1

    Default VOIP / PBX advice

    Hi all,

    My office needs to upgrade its telecoms.

    - There are ~10 people in the office, half of whom are on the phone most of the time.
    - We currently have 4 analogue lines and would be keen to change to VOIP if the quality of service is acceptable.
    - Cloud PBX or 'normal' PBX? I'm not sure which would be better here.
    - We're also looking for extra features like call logging.

    Does anybody have any suggestions about which specific or what sort of offering I might want to look into?

  2. #2

    Default

    You are an ideal candidate for Cloud PBX use.

    PM me your telephone number and area, and I'll get one of our partners in your area to contact you. Meanwhile, you can visit www.1cloud.co.za for more info.

    PS. Don't let anyone fool you by running this setup over ADSL. 5 concurrent calls in todays condition of the DSLAMS paves the way to a very difficult road ahead. There are many other costs effective and stable non-ADSL based backhauls. The partner will discuss a professional, yet low cost solution with you.

  3. #3

    Default VOIP / PBX advice

    Cloud PBX will be cheaper. I agree running this over Adsl would be a big mistake. You can't guarantee quality of service over Adsl. If you don't come right, contact Internet Solutions on 0115751000
    Money and Sex, Bandwidth and Storage... Only too much is ever enough

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by FuLL_MeT4L View Post
    Hi all,

    My office needs to upgrade its telecoms.

    - There are ~10 people in the office, half of whom are on the phone most of the time.
    - We currently have 4 analogue lines and would be keen to change to VOIP if the quality of service is acceptable.
    - Cloud PBX or 'normal' PBX? I'm not sure which would be better here.
    - We're also looking for extra features like call logging.

    Does anybody have any suggestions about which specific or what sort of offering I might want to look into?
    Please bear in mind that even though cloud/hosted PBX's are great their biggest draw back is that you require connectivity to them, saying that though their biggest benefit is also that you can operate anywhere.

    If you want to go with a inhouse PBX, then I recommend you take a look at Elastix, it offers everything you require. If you are going to stay with an in house PBX, then change your analogue lines to ISDN with VOIP it's a match made in heaven.
    . An awesome util : DropBox
    . Mind blowing bandwidth

  5. #5
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    Default

    +1 for Elastix, currently have a large deployment and works like a dream even with a Skype sip channel
    Who cares?

  6. #6

    Default

    Warwick you will need connectivity to a VoIP provider no matter if you use an in-house PBX or a cloud PBX. One of the biggest drawbacks of running an inhouse PBX over a public network is they often get hacked as a result of incorrect security settings and setup. We see this alot, it often ends up costing clients tens of thousands of rands.

    I highly suggest opting for our Cloud PBX www.euphoria.co.za. We have a rapidly growing number of satisfied clients that can be seen here . Don't take my word for it, call one of our clients and find it for yourself.

    Our costings and details can be found on our website www.euphoria.co.za

    We offer a 2 week demo trial for clients with 10 extensions or more, the only obligation is to pay for the couriering of the 2 phones to your office and back.

    Feel free to contact us on 021 2000 500

    George

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hummercellc View Post
    +1 for Elastix, currently have a large deployment and works like a dream even with a Skype sip channel
    -1 for the vTiger exploit

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by georgegolding View Post
    Warwick you will need connectivity to a VoIP provider no matter if you use an in-house PBX or a cloud PBX. One of the biggest drawbacks of running an inhouse PBX over a public network is they often get hacked as a result of incorrect security settings and setup. We see this alot, it often ends up costing clients tens of thousands of rands.
    George, I disagree the OP wanted a comparison of normal pbx ie inhouse or cloud, not a mix. If he goes inhouse then he doesnt need any links to a VOIP providor. Hence why I suggested he changes from analogue to ISDN lines.

    As for the security of the PBX, there is no reason to have an inhouse PBX open to the world, especially in this situation that the OP has sketched. If he does ever want remote users then implement a strict security policy.

    An alternative would be a mixed environment, where he runs his own Elastix install inhouse, but with no analogue or ISDN links but rather port his number ranges to a VOIP providor, if he wishes to do that I recommend porting to Switchtel, if going this route then a dedicated VOIP ADSL link would be best, also ensure use of the G729 codec and run an IAX trunk to minmise the bandwidth requirements. Only concern I have with doing this is Telkom's SLA on ADSL is not fast so plan for the downtimes, ie think of an alternative providor for the VOIP link for backup purposes.
    Last edited by warwickw; 12-04-2012 at 07:45 AM.
    . An awesome util : DropBox
    . Mind blowing bandwidth

  9. #9

    Default

    Since George runs his Cloud PBX company he will naturally punt it I suppose George, in what situations, if any, are you a proponent of traditional in-house PBX's?

    Im going to try and be objective here. If you're a small group of people that dont rely heavily on your telephones then Cloud PBX is probably the way to go. Connectivity to the cloud is likely your key consideration, because if that goes down, then you have 0 telephony. I guess it would be quite unlikely that all 4 of your analogue lines would go down at once, so you probably have not been in this situation before. You will have a lower overall capital outlay, but you're renting telephones monthly and I'm not certain thats good on the long term basis - maybe look into buying!

    In getting an in-house PBX, you would need to consider the cost of doing it properly, because if you do it half-assed, it will cause you grief. There are alot of proponents of Asterisk and its various flavours based largely I'm sure on the fact that you can download it for free from the internet. I dont imagine that the support will be too cheap either, and setting up advanced features will probably cost you.

    So its more than a discussion about just getting some voice lines in. It's really about what functionality you want. You mentioned call logging. I dont know if you mean call recording or call accounting per extension, or both. Maybe you would like to have one number ring on multiple devices (like your desk phone and mobile at the same time?). Maybe you want presence as well, voicemails sent to email, hunt groups, call queing and management etc. etc.

    For a PBX youd need to see which of these features (and others) are available, and which require licensing and configuration and how much that costs. A Cloud PBX provider will likely charge you for the feature. So if you want x it costs you y per month, making it likely that your operation could outgrow the value initially provided by a cloud pbx provider.

    Too often we just look at the cost of getting a voice line in place. It's so simplistic - too simplistic. If thats all you want it will be hard to beat out the value provided by a Cloud PBX provider. If your needs are more complex it becomes a whole lot more interesting
    www.nuzzle.co.za - Get the best pet products from Nuzzle, and get them delivered to your door.

  10. #10

    Default

    Warwick I agree with you but OP does not have to go with Elastix/FreePBX as there are solutions like MyPBX available, this will eliminate the need to invest in 1. data cabling if nothing is present and 2. purchase of IP phones as he can utilize his existing voice cabling and analogue phones.

    Centronix: how exactly is cloud going to be cheaper ? by my calculations if he opts for a cloud based system and wanted all the functionality a local system can offer like call logging etc, it would cost R1450.00 per month based on 10 extensions, this excludes the DSL line rental.

    If he opted for a local based system it would cost him R5250.00 once off (3.6 month ROI as compared to hosted solution), he can connect his 10 analogue phones and 4 telkom lines to the system, if he wanted to move to VoiP after that he can look at ECN SME lite for R699.00 it gives him the IPC link, patton gateway, and 4 simultaneous calls no extra charges for DID's or for sending and receiving faxes.

    If you cancel the telkom analogue lines and associated services it will easily cover the cost of ECN, and on top of that you will get great per second rates whether you are on pre or post paid. local-27c national-25c mtn/vdc-85c other-95c

  11. #11

    Default

    MyPBX is an awesome device, actually forgot about that. Yes that would be a great VOIP pbx for a small business like this, allowing for lots of growth as well.
    . An awesome util : DropBox
    . Mind blowing bandwidth

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by warwickw View Post
    George, I disagree the OP wanted a comparison of normal pbx ie inhouse or cloud, not a mix. If he goes inhouse then he doesnt need any links to a VOIP providor. Hence why I suggested he changes from analogue to ISDN lines.
    Warwick I disagree with you. If you are not connected to a provider to terminate your calls you cannot communicate. If that is Telkom or a VoIP provider you 100% need to be connected to a provider. The point I am making, is that if your PBX is in-house or hosted at your provider, if you loose connectivity to your provider you cannot make calls.

    My point on security is that in the real world we see clients installing freepbx or asterisk and not fully understanding the implications. Hence they do not apply a strict security security policy and they get hacked. We have seen costs go as high as R170 000 in 9 hours as a result of weak security measures. Unless you want to be an asterisk and network security guru i do not suggest running a local pbx. I truly believe its best left up to a company that is dedicated to ensuring the systems are secure and running smoothly 100% of the time.

    On backup procedures we highly recommend ViBE technology, it creates a VPN tunnel to our server environment and reduces the bandwidth requirement by 70%, reduces jitter and latency. On top of this it can auto fail over preserving calls in session to a backup line such as your data ADSL line or a 3G connection. When the primary line returns it will switch back automatically, preserving all calls. Our primary lines for clients these days are usually 1-1 256k wireless links with ViBE we can manage 24 simultaneous calls. The cost of the 256k 1-1 link is +-R 750 per month, we would use a 1MB adsl line for automatic fail over.

    (www.euphoria.co.za) can offer a 10 user cloud pbx with long list of functionality, a full blow telelphone management system and free telephonic and email support for any change requests or trouble shooting. You simply ask and it the task is completed swiftly. We do not believe businesses exist to play with setting up PBXs, inbound routes, IVRs etc, they should be focused on sales, while the provider looks after the technical aspects. It just makes sense. The cost is R 50 per extension, so R500 per month for all of the above and of course low cost pure per second billing. The business can rest easy while their telephony requirements are looked after 24/7 by experts at fair value.

  13. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by InfinityMVS View Post

    Centronix: how exactly is cloud going to be cheaper ? by my calculations if he opts for a cloud based system and wanted all the functionality a local system can offer like call logging etc, it would cost R1450.00 per month based on 10 extensions, this excludes the DSL line rental.
    I am not sure where you get the cost of R1450 per month for ten users, with www.euphoria.co.za it would cost R500 per month ex vat for 10 users with literally all the functionality and reporting a small business would require. We even offer the option of pre-paid so absolutely no long term commitments what so ever. If you don't like it, simply switch to a different provider. Remember the R500 includes support during working hours, including change requests to IVRs routes etc. Why hack with it yourself, get back to business.

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Markd View Post
    Since George runs his Cloud PBX company he will naturally punt it I suppose George, in what situations, if any, are you a proponent of traditional in-house PBX's?

    Im going to try and be objective here. If you're a small group of people that dont rely heavily on your telephones then Cloud PBX is probably the way to go. Connectivity to the cloud is likely your key consideration, because if that goes down, then you have 0 telephony. I guess it would be quite unlikely that all 4 of your analogue lines would go down at once, so you probably have not been in this situation before. You will have a lower overall capital outlay, but you're renting telephones monthly and I'm not certain thats good on the long term basis - maybe look into buying!

    In getting an in-house PBX, you would need to consider the cost of doing it properly, because if you do it half-assed, it will cause you grief. There are alot of proponents of Asterisk and its various flavours based largely I'm sure on the fact that you can download it for free from the internet. I dont imagine that the support will be too cheap either, and setting up advanced features will probably cost you.

    So its more than a discussion about just getting some voice lines in. It's really about what functionality you want. You mentioned call logging. I dont know if you mean call recording or call accounting per extension, or both. Maybe you would like to have one number ring on multiple devices (like your desk phone and mobile at the same time?). Maybe you want presence as well, voicemails sent to email, hunt groups, call queing and management etc. etc.

    For a PBX youd need to see which of these features (and others) are available, and which require licensing and configuration and how much that costs. A Cloud PBX provider will likely charge you for the feature. So if you want x it costs you y per month, making it likely that your operation could outgrow the value initially provided by a cloud pbx provider.

    Too often we just look at the cost of getting a voice line in place. It's so simplistic - too simplistic. If thats all you want it will be hard to beat out the value provided by a Cloud PBX provider. If your needs are more complex it becomes a whole lot more interesting
    Hi Mark

    Fair point, I do my utmost to give unbiased opinons, however being part of a cloud pbx system that is growing from strength to strength, I see the benefits of cloud systems far more than I do in-house systems. Secondly I agree with you on how people approach there telephony requirements. There is far more to their requirements than they initially think, IVR's, Hunt Groups, Ring Groups, Queues, Recording, Reporting, etc. 99% of businesses we have come across owners are not interested in how the PBX works, they just want it to do what they want. This is why we do all configuration changes and routing on behalf of the client, we find our clients are far happier when things are done right the first time and all they had to do was ask.

    I used to suggest an in-house PBX for medium and larger businesses with a single office location and more than 50 users onsite. The reasons being with so many users making internal calls the traffic still has to travel over the WAN link utilizing and increasing the bandwidth requirements and costs. Secondly if the link goes down you can link your PBX to your old Telkom analogue BRI or ISDN lanes in the case of an emergency.

    These days I do not even think this is true anymore. We use ViBE which reduces the bandwidth requirement for VoIP to 8kps per call. It is tiny so not much of a concern, we also have auto fail over to alternate links hence ensuring 99.9% up time. We offer reduced costs for users with a single location and more the 50 users at a single site to balance the cost equation of purchasing an onsite PBX. I would say my opinion for an in-house PBX has migrated to a single offices with more than 150 users at a single location.

    I would also say if your a tech enthusiast, and get a kick out of configuring and learning about open source systems and you run your own small business from a single location, install and manage a system like Elastix. Ensure your security policies are very strict and do not be upset when you are called on to make pbx configuration changes and or fix a problem while you're trying to land that next deal or leave the office early.

    Another problem I have with onsite PBX's is the reporting. Yes you can get your CDR's but they do not match the bill from your provider. Your provider sends you an excel sheet with time, duration and number called and the cost. You cannot tell who made the calls (ie what extension or pin code). With a cloud pbx you can instantly see who made the calls based on actual billed costs in real time by extension or pin code. This real time reporting increases the value of the Cloud PBX to a businesses dramatically. You can easily monitor and manage costs from a browser. This surely should be taken into account as part of the value proposition? With onsite PBX's you need to purchase a separate management system such as the MAN300 at extra cost. Now you have two devices that can fail and need to be upgraded or attended to at your office from time to time. The worst aspect of onsite pbx's for me is if you purchase a a system that can handle 60 users, what happens when you need 61? You need to replace the entire system. Often I see system that use phones that only work with the purchased PBX. I am not saying this is the case with Elastix or Asterisk as they use open standards, but I see it happen in the marketplace and it hurts the bottom line and upsets business owners.

    From my point of view (although I agree it is probably is biased as a result of the environment I work in), a true Cloud PBX truly benefits businesses who are small and or distributed. A small 5 user business can afford R250 per month for a Cloud PBX with a TMS and Support. Distributed businesses can centralize the sales office, reduce inter branch calling to zero and improve overall workflow. It allows employees to work seamlessly from home or remote locations. Our operations director works from home until 9am to avoid the traffic and takes a ten minute trip into the office instead of a 1hour trip. To our clients he is in the office and available from 8am. Your company can grow simply by adding extensions, if you close an office simply remove extensions and pay less. It really couldn't be easier.

    We are a passionate bunch, and have chosen to develop our Cloud PBX alongside excellent customer service and we do nothing else, we are focused as our clients should be on their business offering. We are dedicated to providing a world class service for South African SME's at fair value. The technology is owned and developed by us so when there is a problem we know exactly where to look and how to fix it. We are not agents or re-sellers of a system developed in another country or by a different company and we believe this is a strength. I often see, what I call box movers, installing systems they did not develop or own and when things go wrong, they on the phone to company in the USA trying to work it out? That just seems wrong to us.

    Did I answer your question, not really sure
    Last edited by georgegolding; 21-04-2012 at 07:49 PM.

  15. #15

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    I've been watching this thread and observing. As a provider of both cloud based pbx and trunks that can be used with an on-site pbx and the ability to swap between either service offering as and when it pleases you, what is of most interest to me is see people's opinions and what drives them to select one approach over the other.

    I do wish to comment on a couple of the remarks made above because I feel that they are technically inaccurate:

    ---
    Another problem I have with onsite PBX's is the reporting. Yes you can get your CDR's but they do not match the bill from your provider. Your provider sends you an excel sheet with time, duration and number called and the cost. You cannot tell who made the calls (ie what extension or pin code).
    ---

    For the record, Switch Telecom will take the caller ID you send through and preserve it in a database field so that you can have your on-site PBX send through details of which extension made the call and then view this in the CDRs matched up with billing information.

    ---
    We use ViBE which reduces the bandwidth requirement for VoIP to 8kps per call.
    ---

    That is true under ideal circumstances but an extremely misleading statement. ViBE will, in optimal use (i.e. when there are at least three simultaneous calls), reduce the per-call usage to just above that level. That does not factor in SIP signalling. When utilising the benefits of a hosted switchboard, e.g. features like presence/BLF/BLA, spikes of bandwidth will be used for signalling - frequently - and ViBE does only a small amount to optimise this (it shapes the peaks to avoid disruption to active audio streams).

    ---
    [ViBE] reduces jitter and latency
    ---

    That is only 50% true. ViBE reduces jitter, not latency. It is not physically possible to reduce latency without changing the underlying data network. In fact, ViBE actually increases latency very slightly. The manner in which it trunks calls requires a buffer no less in size then the packet interval (generally 20ms) in order to accumulate payloads of voice packets for various calls. Because it is already creating this buffer, it has a natural de-jittering effect which is why the designers had the good sense to further develop the jitterbuffer capability of it and turn the slight latency increase into a feature (jitter reduction) rather than a negative.

    That being said, a slight increase in latency to achieve a decrease in jitter is no bad thing. In fact, it is the basis on which most VoIP devices ensure good audio quality in varying conditions.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that ViBE isn't a great technology and doesn't offer significant benefits in certain cirumstances, just that it is terribly hyped, often misleadingly so, resulting in people having higher expectations of it than it can deliver. ViBE is an excellent technology and I use it in a number of deployments, but over-selling it beyond what it can do only causes disappointment in the long run.

    What has been mentioned above and which I wish to echo and stress is the liability risk of a insecurely installed system. If there are insecure VoIP extensions, they can abused to make calls out whatever trunk you have (even if the trunk is not VoIP). If you're using a VoIP PBX and it isn't secured properly and someone gains access to it, you're in for thousands of rands of losses. And it is not viable to run a modern VoIP PBX offline. Software needs to be downloaded; systems needs updating; they need to be maintained; professionals will wish to maintain them remotely. If you're going to install an on-site PBX, whether is be a VoIP one (asterisk based or otherwise) or a non-VoIP one, there is a lot to be said for having it installed and maintained by an experienced professional and having some sort of service contract. With a cloud solution, professional maintenance is part of the overall value proposition and not an additional cost. With an on-site PBX, if the pro still doesn't secure it properly, you're still left with the bill. With a cloud solution, if the provider doesn't secure it properly, they're left with the bill, not you.

    Personally, I think the benefits of cloud PBX are becoming increasingly pervasive, in most scenarios, even very large deployments. It is extremely naive to do any cost/benefit comparison without factoring in the very real costs of maintaining an on-site pbx (traditional or IP, asterisk-based / hardware-based) including surge/lightning protection systems, human resource cost, risk of damage, spare parts (if you do it in house rather than using a company that carries stock), etc.

    And then there is the functionality and reporting aspect. In the past this was very similar between Asterisk/3CX and many cloud solutions. But the cloud pbx companies are forging ahead with functionality in excess of what you'll find in almost any on-site system these days (VoIP or non-VoIP, free or commercial). Best of all, as their functionality set grows, so you obtain the benefits with none of the upgrade costs.

    One way or another, don't limit yourself. Using a VoIP provider (rather than Telkom) and, especially one that offers both cloud pbx and pure trunking, will allow you to change your mind in the long-run. Starting with a cloud pbx solution is the cheaper approach, because most are on a month-by-month contract and require no capex outlay. But you can just as easily start with an on-site PBX if the capital outlay isn't a concern.
    Last edited by gmza; 21-04-2012 at 11:21 PM.

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