Anyone with a broad knowledge of VOIP systems?

Topherhead

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I had been looking at phone systems for a couple of months and had finally more or less decided on ShoreTel. Then I found new employment. And one of the first things they put me on was finding a new phone system! Only these guys aren't sold on one system or the other (All of management had already been sold at the old office)

I'm about ready to shoot myself over this now :mad:

So I'm looking at the following four in alphabetical order

Avaya
Mitel
ShoreTel
SwitchVox

Anyone have experience with any two of these? How do they compare?

Things we're looking for:
Softphone support
Android/iPhone Apps (This is optional, IT has an on-call phone and I don't want to carry two phones :D)
Were looking for about 90 seats, of those only 20-40 will be new phones purchased with the system. The rest will be Aastra desk phones or soft phones, so interoperability with third party hardware is a must
Plan is to go SIP but with possibility of going PRI also just because POTS is so damn easy
Few conference phones (So we would like decent phones for that)

We like how open and exposed the Avaya system is (from a CRM integration standpoint)
We don't have a dedicated phone guy(and don't particularly want one) so we would like something that can be managed by a few sysadmins
Our users don't really require many features the only musts are voicemail/fax to email, basic reporting, small scale call center functionality (8-12 users)

I might have left something out but this is already becoming a wall of text so I'm casting it off to the masses to digestion

Recommendations?
 

goodcooper

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i'm an overworked sysadmin and i still went w/ freepbx based asterisk box...

freepbx distro it up... look into the aastra provisioning scripts (i use endpoint manager addon for freepbx, but the standalone scripts aastra has put out for asterisk are impressive)... can't find a cleaner setup for the money...

i ended up with yealink phones, but aastra's are probably technically the "best" phones for freepbx/asterisk...

i've got like 5 PBXs in disparate locations, adding ~10 more in the coming weeks, all trunked together w/ routes...

if i were you i'd get my manager to send me to the next OTTS that the freepbx people put on, if you're even a decent sysadmin, you'll have the knowledge to do all of the things you want easily...

i went and enjoyed it immensely... will probably go again next year and bring my net admin along...

get a sangoma card for your PRIs if you do go that route... you can pretty much put the card in, give them ssh and they'll do everything for you.... absolutely outstanding service, and if your card gets hit by lightning, just call 'em up, they'll send you a new one...
 
Last edited:

Topherhead

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The switchvox system is based on Asterisk and people seem to be pretty happy with it. I'll definitely look into freepbx but I posted this to help narrow my options down not expand them! :eek:
 

thedocta45

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I used to work for an Avaya vendor.
They are decent.

1. Yes, they have good softphones you may need additional licensing for them.
2. Yes, there was some app I used for android/iphones, the name escapes me.
3. The Astra desk phones may or may not work, not sure.
4. Avaya can do any of those options.
5. Polycom SoundStations and work just fine.
6. Yes very open and easy to maintain.
7. Yes I maintain a system at my current position, about 70 users or so.
8. You might have to get some licenses for those 8-12 users dependent on needs.

I am not saying Avaya is perfect, but its a really simple system to learn and understand.
They do have some issues now and then, but nothing I would consider to be a major issues.
Most issues are caused by poor or non standard programing changes.

Just get a quote before you jump all in on Avaya, I never did money stuff but they are not cheap, and additional licensing can add up quickly.

But they are really easy to maintain.
 

Topherhead

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I'm personally bouncing back and forth between ShoreTel, Avaya and SwitchVox. I've had experience with Mitel in the past and while they weren't bad, I prefer something else.

Avaya is really cool in that they actually have their database completely open (and it's just SQL I believe). With that you barely even need an API.

I hear nothing but high praise of ShoreTel though and I've seen their stuff and it looks pretty awesome.
 

aaronearles

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We're on a Nortel (now Avaya) BCM450, I'm not sure how it compares to Avaya's other offerings, but it's complete garbage compared to the Shoretel system we ran at my former employer.

I administer the BCM450, I did not manage the Shoretel, so I can't offer any experience from that perspective, but as an end user, Shoretel wins hands down. Managing the BCM is simple but it's lacking a lot of features that I would consider pretty basic.
 

Topherhead

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Well since it was a Nortel system it was fairly old I would assume?

It seems like with the advent of smart phones the PBX vendors have all improved from a UI view quite a lot
 

Protoform-X

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I'm currently supporting a ShoreTel environment. I used to support Cisco and Avaya, and man... ShoreTel puts those two to shame. It will fulfill all of your requirements listed. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to discuss further.
 

thedocta45

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BCM450 is a piece of garbage.
2008 I think?

The new UIs are much better.
Don't want to program a Meridian ever again.
 

Topherhead

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Oh wow I was expecting something closer to 2003-2004... The stuff were looking at with Avaya looks pretty solid though.
 

Topherhead

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I'm currently supporting a ShoreTel environment. I used to support Cisco and Avaya, and man... ShoreTel puts those two to shame. It will fulfill all of your requirements listed. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to discuss further.

I will probably do that. Thanks!
 

dashpuppy

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I had been looking at phone systems for a couple of months and had finally more or less decided on ShoreTel. Then I found new employment. And one of the first things they put me on was finding a new phone system! Only these guys aren't sold on one system or the other (All of management had already been sold at the old office)

I'm about ready to shoot myself over this now :mad:

So I'm looking at the following four in alphabetical order

Avaya
Mitel
ShoreTel
SwitchVox

Anyone have experience with any two of these? How do they compare?

Things we're looking for:
Softphone support
Android/iPhone Apps (This is optional, IT has an on-call phone and I don't want to carry two phones :D)
Were looking for about 90 seats, of those only 20-40 will be new phones purchased with the system. The rest will be Aastra desk phones or soft phones, so interoperability with third party hardware is a must
Plan is to go SIP but with possibility of going PRI also just because POTS is so damn easy
Few conference phones (So we would like decent phones for that)

We like how open and exposed the Avaya system is (from a CRM integration standpoint)
We don't have a dedicated phone guy(and don't particularly want one) so we would like something that can be managed by a few sysadmins
Our users don't really require many features the only musts are voicemail/fax to email, basic reporting, small scale call center functionality (8-12 users)

I might have left something out but this is already becoming a wall of text so I'm casting it off to the masses to digestion

Recommendations?

sip app is built RIGHT into the Android phone :) love this feature, Currently use FreepbX at home because i can go to the states connect to a wifi and use my phone from there as a phone and call where ever / receive calls.
 

RocketTech

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I like Polycom- super, super SIP compliant, very easy to remote provision and manage, superb sound quality. The SoundPoint IP 335 is an incredible value, I like the vvx 500 for managers/group receptionists.
I like sipXecs for call control. The polycoms also integrate with Lync, have a desktop app.
Conference phones are hands-down Polycom. Their low-end deskphones have better speakerphones than most premium conference phones.
I see the cost benefits for SIP phones as follows:
First is the ability to avoid lock-in with proprietary solutions. If you want a solid, sort-of open system but works best as proprietary, go Cisco. I believe Polycom has been 100% SIP compliant on their past several releases (since at least UC 4.0) and integrates well in virtually any environment. One of the 'A' companies is the official phone of Asterisk (digium) but what does that really get you? If you get a SIP compliant system, you avoid proprietary lock-in and associated expenses- why use SIP to repeat all the cons of proprietary phone controllers?
Next is the quantity of solutions in the market and corresponding price competition. More competition and portable installations means lower prices
Last is reduced transport costs- VoIP is a maturing and increasingly stable transport offering competition and pricing which does not include subsidizing old technology or propping-up failing business models.
 

Topherhead

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I'm not concerned about the install really. If we have to do it then we have to do it but most likely we'll be having the vendor do the install. Future management is another thing all together.
 

thedocta45

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What it comes down to are two things.
Budget and time

If you have a good budget get a services from a vendor, be it Avaya, ShoreTel, or another.
If you don't go freepbx or the like.

If you have time go freepbx.
If you don't have time get it from a vendor.

If your trying to pick a vendor go with one that will provide what you need at a good price.
Also ensure that they will provide adequate training on the system, so you don't get locked into an oppressively expensive contract or have to make $250/hr calls to them when a 5 minute fix comes up.
But if you have the budget get the contract it will make your life easy, and you have someone else to blame and yell at when the phones fuck up. Even if you broke them in the first place.
 

Topherhead

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Messages
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I'm not really talking budgets or support at the moment. I have vendors from each that all seem up to the task at the moment.

What I'm really interested in is the qualities and management of the specific systems listed.

Thanks all
 

aaronearles

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BCM450 is a piece of garbage.
2008 I think?

The new UIs are much better.
Don't want to program a Meridian ever again.

I agree! I would suspect 2008 is about right, not sure exactly when it went in. They're still selling them though.
 

marty9876

[H]ard|DCer of the Month - February 2006
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Messages
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I don't have too much experience with this stuff, installed a Shoretel system here for ~ 35 users (vendor installed) and it's pretty simple to admin. For something not to take up too much of my time it's pretty nice.

Soft phones are hit or miss at best, thinking of outlawing them. Performance issues, suspect more network/VPN/source network based than anything else.

Shoretel nickle and dollars you as does everyone, some of feature sets (mobility) are stupidly expensive. They lag in functionality (can't archive IM traffic yet) generally but it's been stable for me.
 

Blitzrommel

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I've limited experience with the Mitel system I'm now in charge of, but so far I'm reasonably impressed. It's a new thing for me -- having supported bigger systems like Avaya IP Office or Cisco CallManager.

The other one I thought of is NEC Sphericall. http://development.nec-unified.com/pdf-download/538_sphericall_ip_pbx_brochure_060106.pdf

We used Polycom SIP phones with that, it's a simple system to work with. I don't think it's PRI-capable though, but I am not sure.
 

Nate7311

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What's wrong with it? Is it a fundamental flaw or just programming issues by the current vendor?
 

Topherhead

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It seems to have some stability issues, and we have these weird issues where if one or two people are on the phone then all five lines will be locked and no one can get a line until those one or two hang up. After that all five will work. Not being a telephony guy myself (and they've apparently been dealing with this for a while) I'm not exactly sure how to fix it.
 

Haven

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In 2010 the company I was working for was looking to join 5 remote offices into a single phone system and eventually maybe adding in our overseas location as well. We were joined via MPLS to all domestic locations.

We looked at Avaya, Cisco, and Shoretel. Avaya had the highest cost over 5 years followed by Cisco and Shoretel was the most cost effective. We also looked at a product based on Asterix, but it didn't meet all of our requirements.

To give you an idea on price difference we were going to support 300 employees. One site had an old Avaya system that we were going to be able to port the licenses (300 licensed users) to the new system but Avaya was over $130K higher than ShoreTel, and $80K higher than Cisco.

We ended up going with the Shoretel and we were pretty happy with it. I think they still are, I am no longer at that company. The only issue that they ran into was the conference bridge system was a new purchase to ShoreTel at the time, so it was still being integrated into the product.

Though they did run into another issue with the ShoreTel Voice Mail system after I left, but that was one of their own making.
 

Topherhead

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Actually I'm pretty sure that I had read your post (I actually did search before posting :D) Assuming you're the same guy at least. The post was from a couple of years back IIRC, the thread was already necrod once.

Was the Avaya priced so high mostly because of licensing? How often were there hiccups with the ShoreTel system?
 

goodcooper

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In 2010 the company I was working for was looking to join 5 remote offices into a single phone system and eventually maybe adding in our overseas location as well. We were joined via MPLS to all domestic locations.

We looked at Avaya, Cisco, and Shoretel. Avaya had the highest cost over 5 years followed by Cisco and Shoretel was the most cost effective. We also looked at a product based on Asterix, but it didn't meet all of our requirements.

To give you an idea on price difference we were going to support 300 employees. One site had an old Avaya system that we were going to be able to port the licenses (300 licensed users) to the new system but Avaya was over $130K higher than ShoreTel, and $80K higher than Cisco.

We ended up going with the Shoretel and we were pretty happy with it. I think they still are, I am no longer at that company. The only issue that they ran into was the conference bridge system was a new purchase to ShoreTel at the time, so it was still being integrated into the product.

Though they did run into another issue with the ShoreTel Voice Mail system after I left, but that was one of their own making.

curious, what was the limitation surrounding asterisk?
 

Haven

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I don't remember exactly, but I think it was that they didn't have a conference bridge with Web Sharing. We were spending huge amounts of money per month with WebEx to do screen sharing with clients, between teams, etc.

Our CIO wanted an integrated system where we would host our own Web Conference sharing instead of using WebEx or one of those services.
 

Topherhead

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Well that actually tilts it towards Asterisk a little bit for us. We do screen sharing type stuff a little bit but we have TS Farms that our guys use. (We do alot...)
 

goodcooper

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I don't remember exactly, but I think it was that they didn't have a conference bridge with Web Sharing. We were spending huge amounts of money per month with WebEx to do screen sharing with clients, between teams, etc.

Our CIO wanted an integrated system where we would host our own Web Conference sharing instead of using WebEx or one of those services.

nice, i didn't know shoretel's could do that sort of thing...

that's impressive
 

jeffmoss26

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It's been a few years since I worked on any Inter-Tel/Mitel stuff but from what I see they are very solid.
We recently went from a 3Com NBX to a Cisco Call Manager system here at work...it works fairly well, there definitely a learning curve on the admin side. Fortunately, our CDW engineer and Cisco TAC have been excellent to work with. I have an 8961 on my desk, dig the color screen!
 

Haven

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Well that actually tilts it towards Asterisk a little bit for us. We do screen sharing type stuff a little bit but we have TS Farms that our guys use. (We do alot...)

We were doing around $15K per month with WebEx for just client meetings. Having our own solution would save us quite a bit per month. Once implemented we were down to around $2K per month with WebEx.

nice, i didn't know shoretel's could do that sort of thing...

that's impressive

It wasn't too bad, it was a little quirky at times, but it worked pretty well most of the time. I can only imagine that it has gotten better since then.
 

Onions

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Please enlighten me. I work as a second line tech for MXone, recentley started so quite fresh. But it would be intressting to hear someone elses opinions about it.
 

randyc

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I'm all about Avaya (I install and maintain these systems for a an Avaya vendor).

IP Office is good stuff, no redundancy or any fancy enterprise features but its stable.

As for CM (Formerly Definity, now called Aura CM), this is a rock solid enterprise system. There is a reason hospitals, the military and so on are so fond of these systems. They are easy to administer, have all types of redundancy, and tend to integrate with everything that exists.

Have you considered looking at Microsoft Lync instead of a standard PBX? You can do almost all the same things with it and it's a pretty awesome office tool on top of being a phone.

I would skip right past Mitel, they are probably going to go under or get absorbed.

Don't buy a Cisco PBX, just buy the network gear. I'm sure someone can elaborate more, but I've heard stories of lots of unhappy PBX admins with Cisco's solutions. They don't know phone standards or telephony in general.
 

Topherhead

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Can Lync actually tie into phones? Or are we talking just soft phones there? I haven't personally looked into it but I didn't actually know it acted as anything more than a web platform.

Yeah Avaya is still looking good. But I'm in indecision between them and ShoreTel really. I pretty much only ever hear good things about ShoreTel and generally good opinions of Avaya as well.
 

jeffmoss26

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I don't have experience with any of the newer/larger Avaya stuff but I've worked on Partners and Merlins. Those things will last forever.
 
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