I remember the days when I used to live in an apartment building and when my analog home phone used to stop working due to a line problem, the first thing we used to suspect is one of my neighbor has missed up our building PBX wiring while fixing his phone line or installing a new phone line (more than likely, they did not mean to). I used to call the building maintenance and walk down with them to the PBX box and the fun begin when you try to identify which cable is my home phone line.
As that PBX grid grew, that wires spaghetti got out of hand. It got to a stage where it was almost impossible to add new lines or fix old ones without disturbing someone else phone line. The sad part, this PBX fun is not limited to old apartment buildings but many enterprises still depend on it. If one of the below images remind you of how painful this sometime get, then keep reading as the solution might be Virtualization Again! And might be cheaper than you always thought.
As many companies has over grown their PBX system to unmanageable state, VoIP seems to be the natural choice to replace that old hard to manage PBX till companies look at the cost of switching to VoIP and complexity of traditional VoIP solutions they shy away and stick with what they have. In the past, I have passed by a full rack of equipment that is dedicated to VoIP equipment at medium size companies, not to mention the highly trained army that had to manage it.
Luckily things are changing and there is few virtualized solutions out there today that can do the task at a much lower cost and in a much simpler way. One of these solutions that has got their VMware Ready Status early this year is 3CX Phone System. What nice about their solution is that it can be fully virtualized and will require a very small foot print in your datacenter while reducing cost and providing you with functionality that were never possible with your older PBX setup. Not to mention a free version exist that has plenty of features backed into it. I was able to setup my own home system with four different softphones using 3CX Phone System for Windows in virtual machine running on vSphere 5.1 within less than an hour without any prior experience with their system and by just fuzzing with the setup on my own. After finishing I have discovered they had a nice video tutorial out there that demonstrate having the inital setup in less than 10 minute. Below is the video in case you want to try it in your home lab or so on.
Moving to a virtualized software driven PBX will not only provide adapters with a great cost saving, but as well an enhanced manageability and rich functionality that were not possible with traditional PBX. Just referring to my 3CX Phone System example in here, below is the benefits that can be obtained from such a system:
- Easier to install & manage via web-based configuration interface
- Far less expensive to purchase and expand than a hardware-based PBX / PABX
- Improve productivity with presence, desktop based call control and extension management
- No need for separate phone wiring – phones use computer network, easy hot desking!
- Deliver mobility by allowing employees to work from home using a remote extension
- Choose between popular IP hardware phones or softphones – no vendor lock in
- Receive & make calls via the standard PSTN using VoIP Gateways or cards
- Save on monthly call costs using SIP trunks, VoIP providers or Skype Connect!
As mentioned earlier 3CX PBX have a free edition that blend much more features than your traditional PBX is currently offering you. The below sheet demonstrate what 3CX PBX is offering you in the free edition, so go ahead and get a copy try it out on top of your vSphere environment and see if it can help you get rid of that spaghetti PBX box without having to pay an arm and leg for it. This is another case where the software approach flex its muscles :).