On-Premises soft PBX



  • The cloud hosted PBX topic spurred some thinking juices.

    We landed a 500/500 fibre connection at the shop this summer and have moved our voice over to their coax based setup which is a separate cost and SLA. I'd be more than happy to drop the extra cost of their phone POTS replacement and run our own.

    It's been a very long time since I've ventured into or even thought about VOIP.

    We have our own redundant systems built-up on Hyper-V, Storage Spaces, and Storage Spaces Direct (HCI) along with the requisite power protection.

    As far as guest operating systems we have the given with Microsoft but also Ubuntu has been a go-to for our Grafana/InfluxDB/Telegraf graphing, monitoring, and history setup.

    What would all y'all recommend for us?

    We're in Alberta, Canada so that may play into the final setup I think?



  • Almost always FreePBX is what we recommend. Battle tested, super popular, has loads of features, and lots of experienced users (and two consultancies... @Bundy-Associates and @ntg ) here in the community.



  • 3CX runs on Windows and is "okay". Having been a partner with them, we dropped them because they were more expensive, less capable, and harder to use than FreePBX. So their value was... zero. If FreePBX didn't exist, then 3CX might have a place in the market. As it was, we couldn't find a reason for anyone to even test it. Too complicated, expensive, etc.

    It'll run on Linux now, so quite a bit cheaper than before. But the fundamental issues still remain.



  • Wazo is interesting, but not mature like FreePBX. Same with Isabella (the direct descendant of Elastix.)



  • The other player worth looking at is FusionPBX and they are here in the community themselves. @markjcrane



  • @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX runs on Windows and is "okay". Having been a partner with them, we dropped them because they were more expensive, less capable, and harder to use than FreePBX. So their value was... zero. If FreePBX didn't exist, then 3CX might have a place in the market. As it was, we couldn't find a reason for anyone to even test it. Too complicated, expensive, etc.

    It'll run on Linux now, so quite a bit cheaper than before. But the fundamental issues still remain.

    Actually, that is incorrect info.
    Yes 3CX is more expensive because it isn't free but to say it is less capable & harder to use is wrong info.



  • @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX runs on Windows and is "okay". Having been a partner with them, we dropped them because they were more expensive, less capable, and harder to use than FreePBX. So their value was... zero. If FreePBX didn't exist, then 3CX might have a place in the market. As it was, we couldn't find a reason for anyone to even test it. Too complicated, expensive, etc.

    It'll run on Linux now, so quite a bit cheaper than before. But the fundamental issues still remain.

    Actually, that is incorrect info.
    Yes 3CX is more expensive because it isn't free but to say it is less capable & harder to use is wrong info.

    Having run both, it was dramatically less capable and moderately harder to manage. It took more work to do the same tasks, and some key common tasks could not be done. There was a decent capability gap between the two. If you only do really basic or specific things, 3CX might seem to be up to par, and maybe they've closed the gap a bit, but it seems unlikely. But when we were a 3CX partner, it just wasn't up to par with FreePBX and was way too much work to justify using it, even when free.



  • @scottalanmiller When was the last time you ran 3CX?
    What exactly is "dramatically less capable"?
    What key common tasks could not be done?



  • @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX runs on Windows and is "okay". Having been a partner with them, we dropped them because they were more expensive, less capable, and harder to use than FreePBX. So their value was... zero. If FreePBX didn't exist, then 3CX might have a place in the market. As it was, we couldn't find a reason for anyone to even test it. Too complicated, expensive, etc.

    It'll run on Linux now, so quite a bit cheaper than before. But the fundamental issues still remain.

    Actually, that is incorrect info.
    Yes 3CX is more expensive because it isn't free but to say it is less capable & harder to use is wrong info.

    Having run both, it was dramatically less capable and moderately harder to manage. It took more work to do the same tasks, and some key common tasks could not be done. There was a decent capability gap between the two. If you only do really basic or specific things, 3CX might seem to be up to par, and maybe they've closed the gap a bit, but it seems unlikely. But when we were a 3CX partner, it just wasn't up to par with FreePBX and was way too much work to justify using it, even when free.

    The free version of 3CX has too many limits to have any use for anything.



  • @JaredBusch said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX runs on Windows and is "okay". Having been a partner with them, we dropped them because they were more expensive, less capable, and harder to use than FreePBX. So their value was... zero. If FreePBX didn't exist, then 3CX might have a place in the market. As it was, we couldn't find a reason for anyone to even test it. Too complicated, expensive, etc.

    It'll run on Linux now, so quite a bit cheaper than before. But the fundamental issues still remain.

    Actually, that is incorrect info.
    Yes 3CX is more expensive because it isn't free but to say it is less capable & harder to use is wrong info.

    Having run both, it was dramatically less capable and moderately harder to manage. It took more work to do the same tasks, and some key common tasks could not be done. There was a decent capability gap between the two. If you only do really basic or specific things, 3CX might seem to be up to par, and maybe they've closed the gap a bit, but it seems unlikely. But when we were a 3CX partner, it just wasn't up to par with FreePBX and was way too much work to justify using it, even when free.

    The free version of 3CX has too many limits to have any use for anything.

    Wasn't the free version that we used. But you are correct, the free version is totally useless. But the paid version isn't good enough given other options in the market. It just lacks benefits. It's not "bad" per se, just bad in the market landscape.

    Kind of like Minix. It's an OK operating system, but there is always something else free that does it better (Linux, BSD, etc.)



  • @JaredBusch said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    The free version of 3CX has too many limits to have any use for anything.

    You're not telling us anything that we don't already know. I already said 3CX is more expensive than FreePBX.



  • @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller When was the last time you ran 3CX?

    Been a couple of years, ran into serious ethical issues with the vendor and would never do business with them since, they require unethical behaviour from their VAR partners (they are contractually required to say the product is good no matter what they found in testing) so under no condition would I trust anyone involved with them.

    What exactly is "dramatically less capable"?

    Simple things like flexible SIP trunks had to be done in very specific ways and using standard SIP clients wasn't an option (officially, not a configuration thing, they said straight up that it couldn't be done.) You needed special end points for things to work.

    What key common tasks could not be done?

    We could not roll it out to existing infrastructures without ripping and replacing. Whereas all open products like FreePBX, Elastix, FusionPBX, etc. are interchangeable with the same end points, no rip and replace needed.



  • 3CX monitors SW for negative reviews and goes after partners if they don't claim it to be the best product (or keep silent.) If you have issues with it, you are forbidden to talk about it publicly. Nothing can tell you what a bad product it is more than that. Think Nutanix.



  • @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller When was the last time you ran 3CX?

    Been a couple of years, ran into serious ethical issues with the vendor and would never do business with them since, they require unethical behaviour from their VAR partners (they are contractually required to say the product is good no matter what they found in testing) so under no condition would I trust anyone involved with them.

    What exactly is "dramatically less capable"?

    Simple things like flexible SIP trunks had to be done in very specific ways and using standard SIP clients wasn't an option (officially, not a configuration thing, they said straight up that it couldn't be done.) You needed special end points for things to work.

    What key common tasks could not be done?

    We could not roll it out to existing infrastructures without ripping and replacing. Whereas all open products like FreePBX, Elastix, FusionPBX, etc. are interchangeable with the same end points, no rip and replace needed.

    Re SIP trunks & existing infrastructure...now you're just making stuff up...that info you stated above is just not correct!



  • @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller When was the last time you ran 3CX?

    Been a couple of years, ran into serious ethical issues with the vendor and would never do business with them since, they require unethical behaviour from their VAR partners (they are contractually required to say the product is good no matter what they found in testing) so under no condition would I trust anyone involved with them.

    What exactly is "dramatically less capable"?

    Simple things like flexible SIP trunks had to be done in very specific ways and using standard SIP clients wasn't an option (officially, not a configuration thing, they said straight up that it couldn't be done.) You needed special end points for things to work.

    What key common tasks could not be done?

    We could not roll it out to existing infrastructures without ripping and replacing. Whereas all open products like FreePBX, Elastix, FusionPBX, etc. are interchangeable with the same end points, no rip and replace needed.

    Re SIP trunks & existing infrastructure...now you're just making stuff up...that info you stated above is just not correct!

    I'm not, direct SIP to certain end points was not supported.



  • I believe the issue was off LAN, it wouldn't work without a VPN to make it all appear as LAN.



  • We had a look at what was available for our own small office about two years ago. We are not resellers of voip so could care less about that. We wanted something that would fulfill our needs, would require a minimum amount of work to setup and maintain and would work well with Yealink phones. We installed and tried a couple of the popular options during a few weeks and for our needs 3CX was the clear winner.

    We are running the debian version of 3CX on xenserver. It has worked very well.



  • @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    We installed and ran a couple of options to see what would work best for us and for our needs 3CX was the clear winner.

    We are running the debian version of 3CX on xenserver. It has worked very well.

    What did you test against? Was FreePBX one of the options?

    There are loads of things worse than 3CX, like Mitel or Cisco that we've found. No question there.



  • @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    We had a look at what was available for our own small office about two years ago. We are not resellers of voip so could care less about that.

    I can't think of any time I don't care about the ethics of my vendors. Not sure how being a reseller would change that. It's not being a reseller that affects us the most.



  • @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    We installed and ran a couple of options to see what would work best for us and for our needs 3CX was the clear winner.

    We are running the debian version of 3CX on xenserver. It has worked very well.

    What did you test against? Was FreePBX one of the options?

    There are loads of things worse than 3CX, like Mitel or Cisco that we've found. No question there.

    Of course we tried freepbx.



  • @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    We installed and ran a couple of options to see what would work best for us and for our needs 3CX was the clear winner.

    We are running the debian version of 3CX on xenserver. It has worked very well.

    What did you test against? Was FreePBX one of the options?

    There are loads of things worse than 3CX, like Mitel or Cisco that we've found. No question there.

    Of course we tried freepbx.

    You'd be surprised how many places won't. Won't even consider it. It's not always the right choice, but it's nearly always a viable consideration.



  • 3CX' interface has come a long way in the last couple of years, probably coinciding with their move to support Linux. Their interface looked like something from the 1990s quite recently. But is pretty modern now.

    If you run it on Linux rather than Windows (it requires a Windows Server license because it is a server product) and compare to using FreePBX with commercial modules, the pricing is pretty flat between the two.



  • @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX' interface has come a long way in the last couple of years, probably coinciding with their move to support Linux. Their interface looked like something from the 1990s quite recently. But is pretty modern now.

    Again @scottalanmiller the info ^^^ is 100% incorrect!

    If you run it on Linux rather than Windows (it requires a Windows Server license because it is a server product) and compare to using FreePBX with commercial modules, the pricing is pretty flat between the two.

    Again @scottalanmiller this info ^^^ is also 100% incorrect!



  • @FATeknollogee said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX' interface has come a long way in the last couple of years, probably coinciding with their move to support Linux. Their interface looked like something from the 1990s quite recently. But is pretty modern now.

    Again @scottalanmiller the info ^^^ is 100% incorrect!

    If you run it on Linux rather than Windows (it requires a Windows Server license because it is a server product) and compare to using FreePBX with commercial modules, the pricing is pretty flat between the two.

    Again @scottalanmiller this info ^^^ is also 100% incorrect!

    Which info is not correct? That the interface has improved? That it isn't all that expensive? You say things are incorrect, but you aren't saying what IS correct.



  • I hope you aren't going to make the claim that 3CX can run without a server license because they told you you can. That's a blatant violation of the MS licensing and would really drive home why 3CX isn't someone you can trust. But I doubt that they would be so brazen as to encourage theft like that.

    Will it technically run there? Sure, and that's fine for testing. But can you use it in production on Windows 10? Of course not. Using Windows like this requires a server license. Nothing coming from the application company changes that.



  • @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX' interface has come a long way in the last couple of years, probably coinciding with their move to support Linux. Their interface looked like something from the 1990s quite recently. But is pretty modern now.

    If you run it on Linux rather than Windows (it requires a Windows Server license because it is a server product) and compare to using FreePBX with commercial modules, the pricing is pretty flat between the two.

    Yes, the web interface looks very professional and full featured. I've never had to do anything in the OS with it. They also have voip software for windows, android etc that works well and integrates with the deskphones (CTI).

    We also needed more than English and 3CX had the most professional IVR recordings.



  • @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    3CX' interface has come a long way in the last couple of years, probably coinciding with their move to support Linux. Their interface looked like something from the 1990s quite recently. But is pretty modern now.

    If you run it on Linux rather than Windows (it requires a Windows Server license because it is a server product) and compare to using FreePBX with commercial modules, the pricing is pretty flat between the two.

    Yes, the web interface looks very professional and full featured. I've never had to do anything in the OS with it. They also have voip software for windows, android etc that works well and integrates with the deskphones (CTI).

    We also needed more than English and 3CX had the most professional IVR recordings.

    Their soft phone was always solid. What got us was we needed to not use it and they used to have some big limitations around using non-3CX soft phones that made us essentially unable to consider them at the time. Apparently that stuff was fixed, but was, at the time a massive stumbling block when all their main competitors worked the same and didn't have the LAN limitation that they used to have.



  • @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    We installed and ran a couple of options to see what would work best for us and for our needs 3CX was the clear winner.

    We are running the debian version of 3CX on xenserver. It has worked very well.

    What did you test against? Was FreePBX one of the options?

    There are loads of things worse than 3CX, like Mitel or Cisco that we've found. No question there.

    Of course we tried freepbx.

    Okay, so we can look at 3CX or FreePBX as two options.

    What else do we need to make this work?

    I jumped on FreePBX's site for a boo and there's something there about a SIP Trunk?



  • @PhlipElder said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    @Pete-S said in On-Premises soft PBX:

    We installed and ran a couple of options to see what would work best for us and for our needs 3CX was the clear winner.

    We are running the debian version of 3CX on xenserver. It has worked very well.

    What did you test against? Was FreePBX one of the options?

    There are loads of things worse than 3CX, like Mitel or Cisco that we've found. No question there.

    Of course we tried freepbx.

    Okay, so we can look at 3CX or FreePBX as two options.

    What else do we need to make this work?

    I jumped on FreePBX's site for a boo and there's something there about a SIP Trunk?

    They make their money trying to sell you things. FreePBX is totally free and can use any SIP trunk you want. But you are welcome to buy SIP trunks from them directly, if you so desire.



  • FreePBX or 3CX are the PBX, the "phone server" if you will. If you want to make calls on the PSTN (the public switched telephone network) then you need a connection to it. That's what a purchased SIP trunk is for. Vendors like Skyetel (@Skyetel ), VoicePulse, voip.ms, Twilio, Sangoma (on the FreePBX site) all offer these. Only Skyetel is active in the community here.


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