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What is the best VoIP system for small muli-office business?

Posted on 2007-11-20
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Last Modified: 2008-02-24
I am building a network for a client who will be getting a VoIP phone system.  They will have 2 locations that would be connected to each other.  I will be helping them choose a system and select a vendor to install it, provide some consulting, and some really basic support.  Does anyone have any recommendations of a good system that is reliable, has the ability to integrate between multiple locations, and has good functional options?  Clients are willing to spend money for a good system, but I want to keep it out of the stratosphere if possible.
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Question by:dempsedm
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grblades earned 100 total points
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The most well known are probably Cisco (callmanager), Avaya and 3COM.

I dont have any personal experience of them. I use Asterisk myself which is an open source IP PBX which I entirely support myself. There are however commercial versions of it which include support contracts.
http://www.digium.com/en/products/software/abe.php
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by:RDAdams
ID: 20331721
How many users at site 1, and site 2?  Projected future growth for both sites?  (Scaleability)  

What type of features does the client want?
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by:dempsedm
ID: 20351818
Both sites will have 5-10 users with their own extentions, and some exam rooms with phones. This is planning for (near) future growth which should last for a while.  Ideally, it would be scalable to add another location, or some more phones/users, if necessary.

Features would be
1. reliability
2. ability for a receptionist/operator to manage call flow for both locations
3.  Any other slick features that will help them save time, money
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by:wally2k7
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ID: 20357971
If your are looking for a simple, reliable and above all cost effective solution. I would consider using an asterisk?? exchange, it is a software based solution, and although not trouble free comes in a variety of flavours to suit different budgets and requirments ranging from freeware to £2000 odd licences.

There are so many solutions available and almost all are scalable, in general cards will support anywhere between 4 and 16 lines each, and shelves can support maybe 10 shelves, and you can have possibly 4 shelves in a rack, and 3 or 4 racks, all scalable as and when you need them.
I have used alcatel IP phones, a great system, and Realatis PABX's not so good. Personal opinion of course, but I cannot really fault Alcatel OXO's for there performance.

Hope this helps, Rich
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by:wally2k7
ID: 20357993
P.S. Cgheck out the asterisk web site at http://www.asterisk.org/

That will give yoiu more information that I could even pretend to try.

Also search on google, read different reviews etc, although I havn't used it, it is certainly worth considering.
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by:dempsedm
ID: 20367586
Thanks for the info about Asterisk.  I would like to look at a turnkey solution that is well established.  (Not saying Asterisk isn't, but I will probably be looking for an Avaya, ShoreTel, Cisco, etc. that I can have a vendor support).  Any other feedback on any of these, or similar?
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by:wally2k7
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In that case if you are looking for a hardware rather than a software solution then I can highly reccomend the Alcatel series of switches etc. I have no idea on cost, we use them in our small and larger offices because they are so scaleable. You can integrate, Digital and Analogue Extensions, also VOIP Extensions, ISDn Lines, fax and data etc, you name it they do it. The interface is incredibly easy to use, very powerful, and so simple. Hope this helps.

Alcatel OXO or summit I think we use. The best of the 3 systems I have used.

Including the cisco's!!
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by:michofreiha
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ID: 20374603
Make a search on something named trixbox, this is the same as asterisk but much more easy to use and configure
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by:grblades
ID: 20376521
Yes and I believe Trixbox are now selling an appliance version so all you need to do is plug it in and configure it through a web interface.
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by:hattmardy
ID: 20385302
Trixbox!
You really can set one up in less than an hour.
We just hook up to external SIP trunks and are good to go.
We got one of the complete Rhino appliances from www.voipsupply.com and it works very well.
-Matt
www.matthardy.info
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by:dempsedm
ID: 20397262
Thanks for the info, I will have a look.  Any other comments or suggestions?
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by:bandacoo
bandacoo earned 100 total points
ID: 20416281
The situation you have would be perfect for the Avaya Quick Edition System.  It is their smaller (around 25 phones) VoIP system.  I would set up a VPN between the 2 sites.  You could have the sites work as one site, one directory, or you could set up 2 sites.  The system is easy for a customer to administer themselves.  The Quick Edtion does not have all the functions of the IP Office, but will work for most smaller installations.  Also, if you have SIP in those areas, the Quick Edition will support that.
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by:DreamAngel
ID: 20958978
Just Use Trixbox CE, I have a personally deployed over dozen customized solutions for different offices with different needs. Currently I'm working with one company that has 6 branches around the world, they will be interconnected using trixbox ce 2.2.8 using IAX2 trunks for inter-server connections (i.e. will have local extensions, to place calls one office to another over the world branches) Write me email if you need an assistance or consultation.

Thomas
Atlanta, GA
tmasaitis@gmail.com
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by:dempsedm
ID: 20972072
Hi Thomas, what is the benefit of using CE vs. Pro?
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