Good VoIP phone systems for mid-sized business? Alternative to Cisco UC preferred

willp2
willp2 used Ask the Experts™
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Hi, looking for options / opinions on small business VoIP phone systems. We really want something that is versatile and easy to manage that can scale to 100+ users.

We've been working with Cisco UC500 class systems but find them to be much harder to manage everyday than should be needed for basic tasks and the implementation and reliance on Cisco support end up making them extremely pricey to own over the long haul.

Are there any good options out there that are versatile, scalable and actually easy to build and manage at a reasonable price?

We’d like to stay away from open source and go with something branded with support, but would consider anything.

Thanks for any thoughts on this!
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We had some good luck with Shoretel serving 22 locations & 600 users at 1/3 the cost of Cisco.
tigermattSite Reliability Engineer
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Commented:
You say you want to stay away from open source, but sometimes, open source is an incredibly reliable option which makes good business sense.

Check out Asterisk. Digium (the parent company) offer support contracts; it's one way they have of funding Asterisk's development, and Asterisk is also well supported in the community.

If you don't want open source, then Switchvox (also by Digium) is a great system with a web management interface.

Either way, the ability to extend Asterisk with AGI scripting (just about any scripting language you like) can make it invaluable. If a feature doesn't exist, or you want to integrate with local databases or applications, chances are that with the right programming knowledge, you can.

-Matt

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the comments. I'll have a look at Shortel and Digium's offerings.

I have used Asterisk a number of times in the past with mostly very good results on a small scale.

For the record, I have no problem with using open source from a technical side. The problem is more political than practical. If there's ever a big problem the question inevitably comes up as to why we aren’t using something name brand like Cisco. So even if the product isn’t as good and costs more there are some that will always question the decision.
leakim971Multitechnician
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
tigermattSite Reliability Engineer
Most Valuable Expert 2011

Commented:

>> If there's ever a big problem the question inevitably comes up as to why we aren’t using something name brand like Cisco

Absolutely. That's why you would need to get buy-in early on in the process, and get your support options lined up.

Open source software gives you a toolkit which proprietary tools don't without costly add-ons or custom programming languages.

Asterisk can scale, and scale very well, but of course, test, test, test before rolling your phones out to any new system, open source or not. :)

-Matt
IP office hands down... We sell Cisco , Avaya, NEC, Asterisk, and shoretel. The only one that we sucessfully train our customers to maintain is the IP Office. Drag and drop visio style interface on the voicemail and a logically laid out system management. Slightly more expensive, but definitely the lowest TCO
I would second IP Office being simple to manage, I prefer a terminal session onto a CM system, but I've been using them since 95...

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the IP Office thoughts, looking at it now.

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the comments

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