N/APosted on - 05/25/2011
I was wondering if you can help me with a problem. My office is using a PBX phone system from Panasonic and although it's working just fine, my boss thinks that it's not exactly suitable for the office anymore. We're looking for alternatives, for a new PBX system; when one of my colleagues mentioned about IP Phones from Cisco. The problem is, I have never used an IP Phones before. So I kind of lost on the system.
I have tried finding information from Cisco website, but all seems too technical for me and makes me more confused with all the information overload. We currently have around 60 extensions and planning to get more extensions. Since more users will be joining soon (about 20 – 40 more users) and 25 phone lines are already prepared for it. 10 extensions for managers, 1 extension for reception, and the others are for users.
That's the only information I know and I was wondering what kind of Cisco IP Phones are suitable for me. I also want to know the range price for it, so I could include it in the budget to be submitted to my boss. I think if anyone ever see or done, or ever been in my situation, I'd really appreciate some suggestions and ideas on how to do that, since my boss is hinting about it several times a day.
IP Telephony for office usage
Finding the right PBX system may be difficult, as upgrading to a larger setup may seem a monumental task. But given the right tools, and pointed in the right direction, that can be made to feel just like a passing breeze. I don’t know about the Panasonic PBX system model you have right now; So I’m kind of in the dark with regard to that. But perhaps my extensive experience in the VOIP industry; working as an IT analyst for several contact centers, should provide you with some ideas to work on.
The contact centers I’ve worked for, where an average 200 seats having a combination of inbound and outbound calls, with a lot of features in them. The setup always involved the use of the Asterisk PBX system.
The Asterisk PBX is Linux based in most part, meaning that it’s a typical 2 server setup involving the use of a dialer for one server, and a web server to another. Why 2 if you may ask? It’s because putting both functions, in a single server produces choppy calls, when more extensions are added. But don’t be misled by the thought as the 2 server setup can handle hundreds of users running off an E1 or a T1 line. Its high speed voice and data that can be upgraded with the addition of more users. It’s better than getting 25 analog phone lines.
Now as for the Cisco IP phones, you can choose any model you want to, as IP phones connect via the network to the servers I mentioned, allowing them outbound/inbound dialing capabilities. These Cisco IP phones need to be configured for every added user extension. The web server mentioned above now functions as your configuration manager where every bit of feature can be explored, like having one of the extensions pick up the calls and transfer them to other extensions on demand, customized IVR (Intelligent Voice Response) greetings, call queuing, and many other useful features.
Software phones are also an alternative to Cisco based IP phones, since they utilize the same server setups used by hardware phones, use computers running windows operating systems with soft phones like the Counter path “Xlite” http://www.counterpath.com/x-lite.html that emulate hardware phones so well, and even beat them on the number of features present. All it takes is a PC running the software and a pair of Plantronics headsets.
Our office runs a mix of the following technologies above. We have the Asterisk PBX server connected to a network, where a mix of PC’s running soft phones like Xlite, and Cisco hardware based IP phones coexist peacefully. It’s quite a perfect solution for those wanting value for money.
As the source of reference from where you can start your research, I’ve listed the asterisk brands we’ve used in the past. All of them performed remarkably well in huge setups so I’m sure your requirements are far lesser than what we had.
All these companies have excellent client support even for the less technically inclined people, so all you have to do is choose the best option based on your requirements and departmental budget.