FreePBX



  • After many, many hours of research and discussions, I have convinced one of my clients to give FreePBX a try. I'll be honest in saying I have no "real world" experience with it other than testing it in a VM at home. I've worked with plenty legacy PBX equipment - all the major players that come to mind.
    They were in the market for a new system and looked to me to give them ideas. At first, I was going to go with Cisco, but I couldn't justify the cost to implement a 25 extension system. Next was Avaya. I have a few clients with the IPOffice 500 system and they have no complaints. I am trying to get away from the "nickel and dime you for everything" model and vendor lock-in too. FreePBX feels like a good fit. I believe we will go with a Sangoma appliance and phones. I though about running it as a VM but they only have 1 legacy server (physical) and no VM host. The cost of a host to run VMs outweighs the appliance cost.
    I don't mind learning on-the-fly and will gain tons by setting up the new system. Anyway, enough rambling. If you folks have any pointers or advice, feel free to blast away!


  • Service Provider

    A PBX should never be an appliance. it's a critical workload and should be a VM like anything else important. Don't treat it as less important than a normal server.


  • Service Provider

    We've got only one Sangoma phone right now, but so far it's been good. Yealink and Snom are very good, too.


  • Service Provider

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    . I though about running it as a VM but they only have 1 legacy server (physical) and no VM host. The cost of a host to run VMs outweighs the appliance cost.

    Just saw this. If they have no infrastructure, why run it in house at all? or why not fix the problem of the server? This will turn into massive technical debt that could be fixed now.


  • Service Provider

    If they can use VoIP, they can do hosted. I'm sure that hosted would be cheaper than the appliance, even over a really long period of time.



  • I will be purchasing a pair of VM hosts around the same time as the VOIP equipment. I could easily put FreePBX on one of the hosts. I thought about it a lot because the cost of the appliance could go towards the cost of the new servers. I just assumed there were more benefits "license-wise" to purchasing a Sangoma appliance versus just downloading their software. I have not purchased anything yet so the options to have a VM is still an option.


  • Service Provider

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    I just assumed there were more benefits "license-wise" to purchasing a Sangoma appliance versus just downloading their software. .

    Even if the appliance were free, you don't want it. If it costs one penny, it's even worse. It's just non-business class hardware running FreePBX. That's not something you want even at home.


  • Service Provider

    They wouldn't put any special features into the appliance that the VM doesn't have because this would cripple them. All serious deployments are VMs, so the customers potentially going to spend the big money are the software, not the appliance, customers. So they have to keep that on par or above compared to the appliance.



  • @scottalanmiller said in FreePBX:

    A PBX should never be an appliance. it's a critical workload and should be a VM like anything else important. Don't treat it as less important than a normal server.

    Except that FreePBX if you use their installer is an appliance, just happens to be a software only appliance that you toss your own hardware at :P



  • Most people around here run FreePBX in a VM on Vultr. A $5/10 a month VM is all that is typically needed.



  • @Dashrender said in FreePBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in FreePBX:

    A PBX should never be an appliance. it's a critical workload and should be a VM like anything else important. Don't treat it as less important than a normal server.

    Accept that FreePBX if you use their installer is an appliance, just happens to be a software only appliance that you toss your own hardware at :P

    He's using the term "Appliance" like you'd describe going to the appliance store to pick out a new microwave.

    Microwave's aren't mission critical. So you just pick one up at the local store.

    An artificial heart on the other hand has a ton of engineering to ensure you don't die once you have it installed. It's not an appliance because you can't just pick it up at the local Appliance Store.


  • Service Provider

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Next was Avaya. I have a few clients with the IPOffice 500 system and they have no complaints.

    Avaya needs to die in a fire. Horrible equipment from a horrible company. I can never understand how so many people ever bought their equipment.

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    At first, I was going to go with Cisco, but I couldn't justify the cost to implement a 25 extension system.

    Tell us something we don't know.

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    After many, many hours of research and discussions, I have convinced one of my clients to give FreePBX a try. I'll be honest in saying I have no "real world" experience with it other than testing it in a VM at home.

    Obviously biased opinion incoming:
    If you value your client, then do not wing it. Pay someone to do it right. Take the opportunity to learn the process yourself if you want. But do not hurt your client just because you know legacy phone systems.

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    FreePBX feels like a good fit. I believe we will go with a Sangoma appliance and phones.

    FreePBX is a great fit for that size. The Appliance? Not so much. Never use hardware. Always use a VM. There are exactly zero reasons that you should run a PBX as anything but a VM for a small business.

    You can run FreePBX in a VM on Vultr for $5 a month in a datacenter of your choice that gets good response times to your client site. You can add automatic snapshot backups for $1 a month.

    I do not recommend the Sangoma phones unless you specifically want some random feature that your client has never even heard of.

    The Sangoma phones are about the same build quality as Yealink and Snom, but they cost ~$25 more for similar features and lack gigabit connectivity on any model less than $150.

    The only thing you get with the Sangoma phones in FreePBX is that the Endpoint Manager module will work without buying it.

    Might be another paid module that works for free, but I do not recall.


  • Service Provider

    For reference, on a 25 phone system, I can set everything up from start to finish in about 5-7 hours. Including creating the config files for Yealink phones.


  • Service Provider

    @Dashrender said in FreePBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in FreePBX:

    A PBX should never be an appliance. it's a critical workload and should be a VM like anything else important. Don't treat it as less important than a normal server.

    Except that FreePBX if you use their installer is an appliance, just happens to be a software only appliance that you toss your own hardware at :P

    You know what is meant by appliance here. And it's not really an appliance. It's a distro. Installing this way makes it not an appliance.



  • I really appreciate the feedback. I have zero issues running it as a VM.

    Don't cringe - I also have to have a gateway device to utilize an FXO/FXS to tie the new "PBX" into the building intercom. This is not my choice but is a requirement of the vendor. I tried to convince them to use the phones as an intercom but the other parts were bid as part of a construction job. I have NO control over the other components. I just have to make everything work.

    As for the phones - I have heard Yealink is good kit but a vendor gave us a quote on the Sangoma phones that were very competitive. Nothing has been purchased yet but will be soon.

    I do value my client. I will be maintaining the system so I have no issue learning it from start to finish.


  • Service Provider

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Don't cringe - I also have to have a gateway device to utilize an FXO/FXS to tie the new "PBX" into the building intercom. This is not my choice but is a requirement of the vendor. I tried to convince them to use the phones as an intercom but the other parts were bid as part of a construction job. I have NO control over the other components. I just have to make everything work.

    This is normal. Buy the Snom PA-1.



  • @JaredBusch
    The intercom is already spec'd and has the amplifier, interface, etc. I just have to provide them the FXO.


  • Service Provider

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    As for the phones - I have heard Yealink is good kit but a vendor gave us a quote on the Sangoma phones that were very competitive. Nothing has been purchased yet but will be soon.

    You are not mentioning models. This is not like a state secret. If you want advice, you need to give details.

    Regarding the Yealink series, I just rechecked a few sites for pricing. Yealink just switched from the T4XG to the T4XS series and it looks like costs are up a bit compared to how it was on the T4XG series.

    The new features are nice to see, but the price change means the Sangoma phones are now in line with the Yealink Phones.



  • I don't see any mention of internet bandwidth at the site or if this will be PRI / analog. I only saw mention of the gateway to allow use of the intercom. Internet bandwidth is something you need to consider when using a hosted PBX (on Vultr, for example) since in that scenario both internal and external calls would take internet bandwidth. If you had the FreePBX instance on site and brought your own SIP trunks, you're only spending internet bandwidth for inbound / outbound calls (not internal extension calls). With G711u, you can estimate 100Kbps per concurrent call on the high side. It isn't a ton of bandwidth if everyone is on the phone at the same time with 25 phones, but if you were trying to run all this on DSL or a T1 (which I hope not), you may not like the results.

    Be sure to keep QoS in mind on the upload side for voice traffic as well.


  • Service Provider

    @NetworkNerd said in FreePBX:

    I don't see any mention of internet bandwidth at the site or if this will be PRI / analog. I only saw mention of the gateway to allow use of the intercom. Internet bandwidth is something you need to consider when using a hosted PBX (on Vultr, for example) since in that scenario both internal and external calls would take internet bandwidth. If you had the FreePBX instance on site and brought your own SIP trunks, you're only spending internet bandwidth for inbound / outbound calls (not internal extension calls). With G711u, you can estimate 100Kbps per concurrent call on the high side. It isn't a ton of bandwidth if everyone is on the phone at the same time with 25 phones, but if you were trying to run all this on DSL or a T1 (which I hope not), you may not like the results.

    Be sure to keep QoS in mind on the upload side for voice traffic as well.

    In some cases that is true, but there are lots of times that hosted phones use less bandwidth not more. Like home users, remote users, mobile users, voice mail and so forth.


  • Service Provider

    You also have more bandwidth control on hosted. With your SIP trunk you normally are stuck with G.711. But when you go to hosted you can change the codec for extensions. So you can cut a ton of bandwidth in that way if you need to.

    It's really just the one case of extension to extension single PBX calls that you save bandwidth the one way, but loads of ways to save with hosted.



  • @JaredBusch
    I'm definitely not keeping back info on purpose. As for the models and quantity:
    S300 x 2
    S400 x 21
    S500 x 4

    The 300s will be for the MDF and a meeting room. The 400s will be in classrooms for the teachers. The 500s will be for staff/admin.



  • @NetworkNerd The internet bandwidth is 100/100 from AT&T. Everything was analog but I plan to port everything to a SIP provider with the exception of the single fax line. Because I have to have the gateway as well, I can use the fax line as a failover should the internet go down and they need to make an E911 call. I know everyone has cell phones but it's also a CYA thing.



  • Again, I have no issue with running FreePBX as a VM or on a cloud provider such as Vultr. I am meeting the powers-that-be on Wednesday to discuss a pair of host servers to replace their aging physical servers. The pbx VM would be no problem.

    I've had the software running about 2 months as a VM in Hyper-V 2016 with zero issues. I've kept it up to date and monitored it. It has 1 vCPU and 4G RAM.

    Back to the subject of letting a communications company do the install/setup.... Aside from myself, the only other local company will happily sell them an Avaya system. That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.


  • Service Provider

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Back to the subject of letting a communications company do the install/setup.... Aside from myself, the only other local company will happily sell them an Avaya system. That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    But you never use someone because they are local. That no one local is any good is of zero consequence. You want the right skills, not local skills. This is IT, local isn't just irrelevant but unless you are in NYC or London you almost want to avoid local because no one in a small market has the skills you want.

    http://www.smbitjournal.com/2015/08/avoiding-local-service-providers/



  • @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Back to the subject of letting a communications company do the install/setup.... Aside from myself, the only other local company will happily sell them an Avaya system. That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    @JaredBusch and @Minion-Queen individually setup and support phone systems. This could even be done remotely, no need for onsite staff besides your self to connect the phones.



  • @DustinB3403 said in FreePBX:

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Back to the subject of letting a communications company do the install/setup.... Aside from myself, the only other local company will happily sell them an Avaya system. That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    @JaredBusch and @Minion-Queen individually setup and support phone systems. This could even be done remotely, no need for onsite staff besides your self to connect the phones.

    And if it's cloud hosted in something like Vultr, then it's remote support almost exclusively, all the more reason why location of the support person/company doesn't matter in this case.


  • Service Provider

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Back to the subject of letting a communications company do the install/setup.... Aside from myself, the only other local company will happily sell them an Avaya system. That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    So setup, is simply plugging in phones unless you need network drops ran.

    So that has to be decided based on physicla needs. If you just need to plug in phones, then you pre-configure them and send them out with the extensions labeled on the box.

    If wiring, then yeah, you need someone hired.



  • @JaredBusch said in FreePBX:

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Back to the subject of letting a communications company do the install/setup.... Aside from myself, the only other local company will happily sell them an Avaya system. That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    So setup, is simply plugging in phones unless you need network drops ran.

    So that has to be decided based on physicla needs. If you just need to plug in phones, then you pre-configure them and send them out with the extensions labeled on the box.

    If wiring, then yeah, you need someone hired.

    I.e. JB can order the phones be sent to him, he will config them and mail them to you. Or he can train you how to configure the phones, you order them, and you config/install them.


  • Service Provider

    @Dashrender said in FreePBX:

    @JaredBusch said in FreePBX:

    @brandon220 said in FreePBX:

    Back to the subject of letting a communications company do the install/setup.... Aside from myself, the only other local company will happily sell them an Avaya system. That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    So setup, is simply plugging in phones unless you need network drops ran.

    So that has to be decided based on physicla needs. If you just need to plug in phones, then you pre-configure them and send them out with the extensions labeled on the box.

    If wiring, then yeah, you need someone hired.

    I.e. JB can order the phones be sent to him, he will config them and mail them to you. Or he can train you how to configure the phones, you order them, and you config/install them.

    Super busy morning, sorry.

    More or less, yes. But one of the benefits of the sangoma that I have not tested yet is their zero touch provisioning. You simply deliver the phones and power them on.


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