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VoIP solution: Cisco CM vs. CME vs. Nortel, 3Com, etc.

Cyclops3590 asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-03-10
I am looking at going with a Cisco VoIP solution for a new site for my company.  The site will only have at most 15 people so a moderate 2800 series router with CME should cover it.  I will be looking at wired and wireless phones over a cisco aironet wireless network.  At any rate, I'm pretty confident I am going to go with a CME solution for that site.  

However, there is the potential that a larger site (around 100 people) might be upgraded to a full VoIP system (right now on a digital POTS style network.  I know I can get CME to work with a more beefy router, but I am looking at a fuller solution and link atleast those two sites.

From most of my research, most providers have the same features (just depends on the model you go with).  My question is what is required in a CME implementation (my current understanding is that I only need a gateway router with CME loaded and the proper interfaces to take the PRI) versus going with a full CM implementation (I know you need a gateway router and a server--HP or IBM is certified--but I don't know what else).  I'm looking at for a 100 user network (assume one phone per person, plus one voice mail box per person) what equipment would I be looking at needing for a CM implementation (phones can be disregarded as I can determine that) and what is the potential cost.

Also, just out of curiousity I was wondering if anyone knew about other VoIP solutions that they would recommend over CM and why?  I know that CME can be upgraded to CM which is why I want to go with that.  I can get something fairly cheap and fairly easily upgrade it without having to buy all new hardware.  My site uses a 3Com box (NBX 100).  It is fairly limited in what it can do, I think mostly because of it being one of the first to the VoIP market.  The last site uses a Nortel box (don't know the model).  That one does well, but they don't use L3 connectivity.  (They didn't buy that license).  That is another item I would like to stay away from if at all possible.  I really don't like licensing every little feature.

As I said before, I'm pretty set on Cisco, but want to keep an open mind to see if anyone thinks I'm making a mistake going with them.
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Cyclops3590Sr Software Engineer


One thing I forgot to mention.  I want the ability to use softphones.
For the price of a Cisco unit, you can get Altigen with a Goldmine Convergence Application.  This way when customers call in, their info appears on the screen right before your eyes.  And yes, it not only works with Softphones, but in addition, if someone logs in with their softphone from a PC at a hotel room, they can have their Extention redirected to the Softphone so it's like their in the Office.  To me Cisco is a bit overpriced in this area, plus they're fairly new to it, so they don't have the best Apps.
Cyclops3590Sr Software Engineer


you say, "for the price of a cisco unit, you can get Altigen", but I was wondering are you comparing this against the CallManager Express or the full blown CallManager. Just curious of what the price range is.

Also, to get more perspective on your selection, when was the last time you looked at Cisco.  Only reason I ask that is although, yes they are playing catchup, they have made quite a few updates within the last year and I just want to get a feel for why you like Altigen more.

Thanks for the help.  It is much appreciated.  Also the little checking I did so far on Altigen, I like the call recording option.  Never really looked for that option before, but now that my mind is jogged of that option I believe we'll need that one.
I guess I'm a bit biased, because I tend to deploy full blown solutions based on Goldmine & Altigen.  To me one of the advantages of deploying VoIP is to do Voice & Data Convergience, which Altigen allows you to do, espcially with Goldmine, but you could also do it with Outlook/Exchange As well.  I have customers that use these systems to do things like Intelligent Call routing.  To give you an example, I've deployed this solution at a call center, where if a prospect calls in, their call is automatically routed to the last person who talked to them, and if they're not available, then it goes to the owner of that contact record and if they're not available it goes to the "Receptionist Group".  As soon as the call starts ringing, there's a screen Pop with the Goldmine record of that customer, along with a Call Completion Box, to enter notes based on this conversation, you even have the option of recording the conversation and attaching it to the client's record.  Another example is a Property Managment Company, where they have individuals that are in charge of different properties.  The first time a Homeowner calls in, a record is created for them, along with their Account Manager's name.  Each subsequent time that homeowner calls in, the record gets routed automatically to the correct account manager, this way you don't have 50 different people dealing with that same customer and the customer having to start all over again.

As for the price range, I've setup Altigen/Goldmine configurations for around $1000.00 - $1500.00 per user, depending on the options desired, and that's between the hardware & Software, smaller setups of course tend to run a bit more per user and larger setups a bit less per user.

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Cyclops3590Sr Software Engineer


Ya that's a bit much for the small site I need to deploy a VoIP solution for, but I like what I hear.  I've never heard of them before so I'll have to look into them a bit more.

Thanks for the suggestion.
NP.. Also, keep in mind that if you're not going with a lot of the upper end solutions, along with the Data Convergience, they do have some fairly inexpensive setups.  It's worth taking a look at.
Cyclops3590Sr Software Engineer


Well, it looks like this question is not going to get any more posts.  Juan, thanks for the input.  However, I really wanted to know the requirements of the full blown Call Manager next to the Call Manager Express.  The "other" suggestions was only part of the overall question.

Juan, you don't know whats involved in a Call Manager/Call Manager Express setup do you?
Don't really know too much about Cisco's Call Manager line.  When call manager first came out, I called to find out if it had the features that I needed to integrate with Goldmine or MS CRM and I found it lacking so I never really looked into it again.
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